GOP Senate Moderates Back in Business

December 19th, 2010 at 2:16 pm | 37 Comments |

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The moderate wing of the Republican Party was reborn Saturday in the United States Senate.  Eight Republicans — Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Richard Burr of North Carolina, John Ensign of Nevada, George Voinovich of Ohio, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Maine’s Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins — crossed party lines to vote with the Democrats to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  If you add Senator Richard Lugar, who is leading the charge to ratify START and Senator Lindsey Graham, the Obama administration’s go to Republican in the Senate, the number of Senate Republicans with established moderate credentials moves to double digits.

What makes this bunch so appealing is that they actually seem to think about the issues before they vote on them.  For example, while the party ideologues on both sides voted for (or against) both DREAM and DADT repeal.  Senator Kirk voted for repealing DADT (“As a 21-year Navy Reserve officer, I believe it is important for military leaders, not federal judges, to run our armed forces”) and against DREAM (“The American people believe our borders are broken.  It is a fundamental duty of our government to know who is entering the country, making illegal entry nearly impossible.  In the coming Congress, we have an overwhelming bipartisan consensus to restore confidence in the security of our borders — before we pursue other immigration proposals,”)

Socially moderate.  Fiscally conservative.  Thoughtful.  Wow.  Kirk isn’t the only one in the bunch with an open mind.  Senator Graham opposed DADT and DREAM but drew the ire of virtually everyone in the party when he and Senator Lieberman teamed up with the White House to see if they couldn’t create a workable energy bill (Harry Reid killed it).  Senator Lugar didn’t join the team for DADT or DREAM but is the President’s go to senator on START.   Senator Murkowski lives to stick it to Palin, so she scores moderate points for that.  Senator Brown has showed an ability to tip-toe the line between the parties as deftly as anyone.

What does this all mean?  First, it means that RINOs like myself can rest easier knowing that there is a group in the Senate to check the Palinites’ crazier tendencies.  But more importantly, it means that the President has no excuse for not getting Republican support in the Senate.  There are, at the very least, ten Senators that are open to crossing the party line.  If the President can’t get six of them on every single piece of legislation that he attempts to pass, it means that he isn’t trying.


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37 Comments so far ↓

  • Charles M. Kelly

    While you are praising Sen. Luger, you might want to add that he worked with then Sen. Biden in 2008 to craft legislation that increased federal funding for Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces. These state task forces fight traffickers in child porn–a horrific combination of profit, slavery and rape–with federal dollars. At the time, the Bush administration had cut funding down to something like $17 or $18 million.

    Biden and Luger were pushing for $60 million.

    I don’t recall what the final figure came to–I think it was $45 million, but my memory could be wrong.

    Some fiscal conservatives were opposed to the increased, citing legitimate deficit concerns. Yet fiscally conservative Sen. Luger apparently thought some things are worth spending money on–and working with the other side of the aisle to accomplish.

    I can disagree with the man on some issues, but I have to respect him. He gives me hope America can still function.

  • TerryF98

    Where were they during the last 2 years of complete obstructionism?

  • politicalfan

    Let’s hope that they work together. I think more people are in the middle. There are a lot of fiscal conservatives who have social beliefs. Why do we want a government intruding on the most private things in our life? We don’t like paying taxes but yet we need to pay taxes to get things done. We may disagree how the money is spent but when it comes down to it. Not center left/nor center right. I think the Republican party is making a big deal out of their wins. Impressive as they were, can they maintain them? That will be impressive.

  • PracticalGirl

    TerryF98- You’re 2:40 comment

    My pessimistic thought exactly. One must always remember that behind every moderate GOPer is a capital “R”.

  • SkepticalIdealist

    I appreciate the moderate Republicans, but Jeb’s comment that “Obama now has no excuse for not winning Republican votes” is laughable.

    DADT repeal had over 70% support from both the American people and the soldiers themselves. It also had many many military leaders come out in support. If they didn’t vote for that, what would they vote for?

    Many of them probably won’t even get on board for the start treaty, and that’s hilarious considering it was THEIR effin’ treaty in the first place. I just can’t stand when people like Jeb insist on not holding people accountable for their own votes. Obama isn’t their daddy and he isn’t a hardliner that insists on ideologically pure bills. If he can’t get Republicans on board, it’s because Republicans want to extort more compromise out of him than they deserve. Let’s be real. Obama is probably the squishiest Democratic president we’ve ever had in office. He gets a lot done, sure, but he’s always willing to neuter progressive provisions in a bill if it’ll earn him a kind word from a moderate Republican or the Washington media. In fact, he often does it preemptively for absolutely nothing in return like he did with his spending freeze theatrics.

    In conclusion, I’ll not only say that Jeb is 100% wrong on this, I’ll go even farther and say that it is moderate Republicans that have absolutely no excuse not to work with a president who has been as willing to bend over backwards for bipartisanship as Obama has.

  • Candy83

    Maine having Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins for its two Senators makes about as much sense as Arkansas having Democrats Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor. In other words, it makes no sense. Now that Arkansans have given the boot to Lincoln, Mainers need to do the same damn thing to Snowe in 2012.

  • balconesfault

    Serious? Are you alleging that Obama could have gotten 6-10 Republicans to support healthcare reform?

    This action on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is nice. It shows that not everyone in the GOP is an old anti-gay bigot.

    But if you think that we’re going to see 6-10 Republicans voting for an Energy Bill that includes some form of CO2 limits or taxes, for example, or for a return to a more progressive income tax that will be capable of funding our budget without grinding our economy to a halt, you’re delusional.

  • sinz54

    Golinkin: If the President can’t get six of them on every single piece of legislation that he attempts to pass, it means that he isn’t trying.
    Even if Obama does,
    his real challenge will be the new GOP-controlled House of Representatives–where according to the Constitution, all budget bills have to originate.

    There all the relevant committees will be controlled by Republicans, and chaired by men and women hand-picked by House Speaker Boehner. It’s highly unlikely that any legislation that looks remotely liberal will ever make it out of committee in the House.

    That doesn’t mean that Obama and Boehner can’t compromise–they just did, on the tax cut compromise that passed this past week. But the old model of Obama starting with most of the Dems and then picking off a few Republicans here and there doesn’t work when Obama’s party no longer controls the House.

  • sinz54

    Terry F98: Where were they during the last 2 years of complete obstructionism?
    When you see the kind of bills that the House Republicans are likely to pass, Senate obstructionism is going to start to look pretty good to you.

    I didn’t see any liberals denouncing Bernie Sanders for his “obstructive” near-filibuster lasting 8 full hours on the Senate floor, did you?

  • TerryF98

    8 hours out of 2 years, and he had the balls to actually get up and give an eloquent statement of his belief that the Tax boondoggle for the rich was unjust and would add 850 BILLION to the deficit.

    The GOP quite happy to add 850 BILLION to the deficit. Fiscal Conservatism my ass.

  • barflea

    Glad to see some moderates, most Americans want to have politicians who compromise and meet in the middle, it is the ideologues from the left and right who have polarized our country.

  • balconesfault

    That doesn’t mean that Obama and Boehner can’t compromise–they just did, on the tax cut compromise that passed this past week.

    In other words, as long as Obama is willing to include more tax cuts for the wealthy in a bill, he can address some other part of his legislative agenda?

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  • Freesmith

    Let’s see how fiscally conservative these RINOs are when California and Illinois come calling on Congress to bail them out of the budget messes those states created by being “socially moderate?”

    Or will they try to convince us that CA and IL are “too big to fail?”

  • balconesfault

    Texas is facing a budget shortfall of $25 billion going into our new budget cycle. Are we socially moderate too?

  • Freesmith

    balconesfault

    Yep, if Texas spent more money than it had revenue – that’s a definition of socially moderate.

    You see, you can’t be fiscally conservative and socially moderate. All those wonderful government programs that enact socially moderate reforms come with big, fat price tags. I’m sure that social moderation on border enforcement and illegal immigration haven’t helped Texas either.

    As Mark Steyn has written, blending fiscal conservatism with social liberalism is like blending ice cream and cow manure. You can do it, but you’re going to get a result that’s a lot more fecal than dairy, and one that is quite inedible.

    But let’s see how Governor Perry handles it – with the cliche of “draconian” cuts or with a trip to Washington, tin cup in hand.

    We already know what path the Democrats in California and Illinois are going to take, don’t we?

  • goldwater gal

    Oh come on, Mark Kirk for one is gay. It’s not some kind of big secret. He voted for repeal simply because he was afraid of a more public outing by gay activists if he voted like a hypocrite.

    Recall earlier this year when Kirk voted not to repeal DADT. Gay activist and journalist Mike Rogers outed him and that created potential big problems for Kirk in his bid for Senate in IL. But now that Kirk is in he’s not worried about Republican voters. He’s a lot more afraid of his fellow gays.

    You really look like a gullible fool praising a public official who just caved to what is essentially blackmail.

    Kirk also voted for cap & trade, the largest tax increase in American history. So that makes him a “fiscal conservative?” Crazy.

    Jeb, you must have an awfully big crush on Kirk to look like a moron on his behalf like this. I hope you two will be very happy together. Good luck to you.

  • balconesfault

    All those wonderful government programs that enact socially moderate reforms come with big, fat price tags.

    Like the billions we spend on keeping the world’s largest (on a per capita basis) prison population?

  • CentristNYer

    I’ll reserve judgment on whether this was a blip on the monitor or the sign of genuine brain activity. Like several others here, I have to wonder where these folks were the last couple of years. They largely shied away from genuine bipartisanship, instead choosing to quietly acquiesce to the Party of No strategy, which is why things turned so ugly. This is their opportunity to right a significant wrong. Ending DADT was a good start, but it’s just a start.

  • Are Moderate Republicans Back In Business? - Big Tent Revue

    [...] Jeb Gonklin over at Frum Forum thinks that in light of Saturday’s vote overturning “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” means that GOP moderates are back: The moderate wing of the Republican Party was reborn Saturday in the United States Senate.  Eight Republicans — Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Richard Burr of North Carolina, John Ensign of Nevada, George Voinovich of Ohio, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Maine’s Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins — crossed party lines to vote with the Democrats to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  If you add Senator Richard Lugar, who is leading the charge to ratify START and Senator Lindsey Graham, the Obama administration’s go to Republican in the Senate, the number of Senate Republicans with established moderate credentials moves to double digits. [...]

  • balconesfault

    Kirk also voted for cap & trade, the largest tax increase in American history.

    Bigger than Reagan’s Tax Equity And Fiscal Responsibility Act? Wow!

  • Freesmith

    balconesfault

    “Like the billions we spend on keeping the world’s largest (on a per capita basis) prison population?”

    You can’t be serious, comparing an essential, basic and legitimate government function – providing security for people and property within a commonwealth – with social programs and patronage schemes.

    If you want Texas’ convict population released, petition your government to do so. I’m sure you’ll garner plenty of electoral support.

    You’ll notice that California is facing just that end-result, judicially mandated.

    And people are leaving the Golden State in droves.

    Goldwater Gal

    And as regards Mark Kirk, Goldwater Gal has the truth spot-on.

    Kirk can trust Republicans to tolerate his homosexuality; he knows, however, that he can’t trust Democrats the same way.

    Those open-minded, tolerant souls will “Mark Foley” and “Larry Craig” him as soon as they can and as soon as it suits their larger political purposes.

    Elect no Democrat anywhere, ever.

  • think4yourself

    Sorry FreeSmith – Spending more money than you have in revenue is not a definition of socially moderate (you’re labeling like a Fox executive), it’s a definition of fysical imprudence and is owned by both parties. For example, you can cut taxes and spend billions of dollars on war without funding it; spending more money than you have in revenue and still not be considered socially moderate. Social Moderate (not to be confused with Socially Liberal) means you don’t march in lock step with the religious right and will evaluate such issues as homosexuality, abortion, poverty in America and the role of religion in public life in a nuanced manner.

    @ Balconesfault “In other words, as long as Obama is willing to include more tax cuts for the wealthy in a bill, he can address some other part of his legislative agenda?”

    In a word – yes. Compromise means give up some of what you want in order to get something else you consider more important. Obama wanted to show he could get things done, make sure he could provide unemployment insurance and get a short term tax cut extension. For that, he broke his campaign promise to raise taxes on the wealthy (although you can argue he did that already in the health care bill) and he colluded with the Republicans to raise the deficit. The Republicans for their part decided it was more important to give tax cuts to a few people than to be serious about not adding to the deficit.

    As for Jeb’s article, it’s way to soon to see if the GOP moderates have any clout. They did this week, but the next Congress is a whole different matter. I can easily see filibusters and veto’s when bills start coming out of the house next year. John Boehner will have to placate the Tea Party and their elected Representatives (especially after doing deals in the Lame Duck Session), so I’m sure we will see very conservative legislation that the Dems and the President will gleefully oppose so they can show their liberal base that they are fighting for them.

  • Freesmith

    Obama said this weekend that he supported the tax rate compromise to avert an economic catastrophe, not to show he could get things done.

    Interesting. Obama came into office intent on averting an economic catastrophe caused by the misguided economic policies of the Bush Administration.

    Now Obama and Larry Summers both say they are averting an economic catastrophe by continuing the misguided economic policies of the Bush Administration.

    Progressivism: The political philosophy that holds that only progressives should be in charge.

  • think4yourself

    @ FreeSmith – “Elect no Democrat anywhere, ever”

    Why – because you don’t like the name? Would you vote for a conservative Democrat (such as Zell Miller from Georgia was) instead of a socially moderate or liberal one (like Lincoln Chafee was)? Is it better to elect someone like Mark Foley (the man preyed on underage boys) than someone like Evan Bayh?

    I’d rather chose someone to represent me in Congress who was thoughtful, understood that just because people have different opinions doesn’t mean they are the enemy and soneone worked to find solutions that made America better, rather than vote for somone because of what party they are affiliated with.

  • balconesfault

    Obama said this weekend that he supported the tax rate compromise to avert an economic catastrophe, not to show he could get things done.

    Interesting. Obama came into office intent on averting an economic catastrophe caused by the misguided economic policies of the Bush Administration.

    Your point? Given that it took Bush 8 years to fully trash the economy, it’s going to take more than a couple years to get us out of the rut.

    Now Obama and Larry Summers both say they are averting an economic catastrophe by continuing the misguided economic policies of the Bush Administration.

    Well, everyone pretty much knows that the high end tax cuts and estate tax cuts are just deficit increasing payoffs to the GOP to be able to do the other things that needed doing. It would have been nice if by now the middle class tax cuts could expire and return to a long-term sustainable level, but it’s dangerous to the demand side of our economy right now to start taking an extra 3K from the average middle class taxpayer. If unemployment were down around 5%, the deficit would be more a concern.

    And the extension of unemployment benefits is not a part of the misguided economic policies of the Bush Administration. It’s a band-aid remedy for the consequences of them.

  • cdorsen

    Moderate and thoughtful is one thing, but Dem with an R by your name is another. Pragmatism is one thing, selling out your values is another. Working with the other side is one thing, stiffing the voters that put you in office to block the extremes of the other side is quite another as well. The GOP is supposed to be the party of the right. Self-called moderates may want it to be more center right, but please keep in mind there is and should be a difference in center right and center left….

  • lessadoabouteverything

    freesmith is a redstate troll, best to ignore him and his wacky definitions. Socially liberal Clinton’s balanced budgets were fiscally irresponsible, but social conservative Bush’s huge deficits were fiscally responsible because….Mark Steyn said so.

    practical girl, actually I do not think you can say Republicans were as obstructionistic as you imagine, with the ACA they were but there were a number of pieces of legislation that had high bi partisan support.
    If Obama does pass Start during the recess then what really is left of the obama agenda? Immigration and climate change, that is it. Most of the rest, national security, education, etc. he should be able to work with Republicans being that on these matters he is essentially already a Republican.

  • think4yourself

    “Self-called moderates may want it to be more center right, but please keep in mind there is and should be a difference in center right and center left….”

    You have defined moderate as Center Right – why? I think that the political parties themselves are source of much of our problems – This from George Washington’s farewell address:

    “The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism…the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.”

    http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/washing.asp

    I’m not suggesting selling out my values. I would suggest that in the desire to have one’s party beat the other party decisions are made not for value reasons but for political reasons (Does Jon Kyle really think that New Start hasn’t had enough time – or does he want to drag out the clock until the next Congressional session? Did Harry Reid really want the Dream Act to come to a vote and fail or did he want to show his Latino constituents in Nevada that gave him the win that he was doing all he could for them?).

  • lessadoabouteverything

    cdorsen, there are a host of areas where center left or center right do not apply as being distinct. The center left and center right are more likely to support our war in Afghanistan with the far right (the libertarians) and far left being opposed.
    on a host of issues I can see where there is and should be no difference in center right and center left….
    national security, defense, immigration (remember it was Bush who pushed the issue), education (Bush worked with Kennedy on NCLB)
    Look, I get your point that on some issues the distinctions between Dem. and Republican should be clear just that there are many issues they need not be, where the center left and center right are the middle party.

  • Freesmith

    think4yourself

    Please continue to split your ticket when you vote. I highly recommend that you do that.

    Remember the famous political maxim: In division there is strength.

  • think4yourself

    Not a problem, I always plan to vote for the best person for the job – not the best political hack.

  • Freesmith

    Great!

    Please encourage all your Democrat friends to do the same, especially those who are black.

    They haven’t seen the wisdom of your point of view yet.

  • balconesfault

    Please encourage all your Democrat friends to do the same, especially those who are black.

    I’m happy to encourage Dem friends to vote for the best candidate. I’d even be happy if on occasion an exceptional candidate came forward with an (R) next to his name. Unfortunately, here in Texas, the GOP Primaries generally preclude that from being the case.

  • lessadoabouteverything

    balcone, obviously freesmith has never heard of NYC which has had a non Democratic mayor for decades now, yet has Democrat registration majority of 5 to 1. But what can you expect from a troll.

  • Freesmith

    Right. Michael Rubens Bloomberg is Republican…no, an Independent…no, a “No Labels.” Whatever. He’s a member of the Bloomberg Party and nothing more.

    Mayor John Vliet Lindsay was a Republican too, until he ran for re-election in 1969 as a Liberal and then ran for President in 1972 – as a Democrat.

    Yep, lessadoabouteverything, I never heard of New York City. :)

  • lessadoabouteverything

    freesmith, having difficulty with reading comprehension? Notice this: NYC which has had a non Democratic mayor for decades now. Meaning millions of Democrats, including who knows how many blacks, voted for a non-Democrat.

    And now notice what you wrote: Please continue to split your ticket when you vote.

    You are aware that not voting for a Democrat constitutes as splitting your ticket, right? And Bloomberg ran as a Republican at first.
    The point is that there are plenty of people who choose to vote regardless of party label. Believe it or not, there are many sane Republicans, sadly though the lunatic tea bagger fringe has driven them to the shadow, but nationally Republicans have never nominated a nutjob for President and I don’t see them doing it anytime soon so I hope next year some sanity will return to the Republican party as they gear up for the 2012 elections.