The reluctance of moderate Democrats in both Houses of Congress to support key elements of the Obama administration’s agenda has unsurprisingly angered others in the progressive coalition.
Among the angry, OpenLeft’s estimable Chris Bowers has come up with a new strategy that’s more immediate than his site’s general argument for launching or threatening primary challengers to “centrist’ Dems: molding the Progressive Caucus into a more aggressive faction that will withhold votes for unacceptable legislation, just like the Blue Dogs:
Instead of 60 votes in the Senate, what progressives need is Democratic control of both branches of Congress, control of the White House, and a progressive block of at least 13 Senators and 45 House members that will vote against Democratic legislation unless their demands are met. What we need is our own version of the Blue Dogs and Evan Bayh’s “conservodem” Senate group that is large enough, and staunch enough, to be able to block Democratic legislation by joining with Republicans.
We need this group to draw hard lines in the sand for the two biggest legislative priorities of 2009: health care and climate change. The group needs to make it clear that, if their demands are not met, then no climate change or health care legislation of any sort will be passed. Demands like:
1. Health care: A public health insurance option that is immediately available to all Americans.
2. Climate change: Restoring the EPA’s ability to regulate carbon and renewable energy targets that surpass those put in place by China..
The impact of such a group of Super-Blue Dogs, of course, totally depends on the credibility of its threats to vote with Republicans against Obama and leadership-sponsored legislation. Chris Bowers obviously thinks they should and would, but the administration’s point of view on this dynamic will be crucial. Maybe they’d actually like a left-counterpart to the Blue Dogs,or maybe they think there are enough dogs-a-barking right now.