Not surprisingly, the mainstream media - always ready to enjoy a good squabble among Republicans - is happily enjoying the centrist revolt that's been occuring through Congress this week. Are they playing it up? Or is there really some "there" there?
Today's Washington Post
has as least three pieces discussing the center's rising clout and increased vociferousness. First, Jonathan Weisman and Shailagh Murray write up yesterday's events
in Congress, noting that centrist Republicans in the House forced a holdup of the budget reconciliation bill, and Senator Snowe and others in the Senate put the kibosh on a planned committee vote to extend Bush tax cuts (and therefore more deficit spending) into the future.
The centrists are right. Budget cuts are
needed. But why, why, why, should we cut valuable programs like student loans, food stamps, and health care services and then pass a tax-cut bill bigger than the amount we've just cut? That makes the fiscal sense of a rotten-tomato farm, and the American people know that.
I have to say I've never been prouder of my congressman, Sherry Boehlert, who is standing up as a strong, proud centrist these days. Yesterday, he said "I've told the leadership they're asking for the dismantling of the Republican conference" if they go ahead with the current budget plan. "The clear evidence from Tuesday's election results is that Americans are moderate. They need to start listening to us."
Thankfully the tax cut plan is meeting plenty of resistance in the Senate: Murry and Weisman also report that "Bush's call to make his first-term tax cuts permanent has had so little support that Grassley drafted a bill that would simply extend some of the Bush tax cuts for a single year. Even that may go nowhere." Senator Voinovich said of that yesterday "It should go away. We ought not to be involved in it."
Dana Milbank's "Washington Sketch" today is "The Moderate Go to Extremes
." It basically reiterates the same points, but includes some more excellent quotes from moderate legislators. Backbones were appearing all over Washington, as the moderates, often stooped and weary, raised themselves up to their full, height and stood proud and tall. Rep. Charlie Bass, currently chairing the Republican Main Street Partnership, said at a press conference "sometimes we can't even agree what day of the week it is." But on this, "We will not waver." Rep. Wayne Gilchrest of Maryland seconded Bass: "We will hold the line on this. I think this is the dawning of a new day." Vern Ehlers of Michigan added "They know very well what our position is, and it won't change."
David Ignatius' column is titled "Rise of the Center
," and discusses the pendulum-swing just beginning to bring us back from the brink. Lots of quotes here from McCain and others, making it well worth a read as we move forward. And we will
move forward. This is the time to act. This is the time to stand up and say we will not be cowed any longer. If we are to have spending cuts (and we should), then it's (well past) time to recognize you cannot have tax cuts simultaneously.
As I said yesterday, if this revolt be treason to the GOP, then let us make the most of it. We in the center must stand for our values and our priorities, and if others would turn the party toward continued fiscal insanity, we must and will resist at every turn. There can be no surrender now.