Alaska's newly elected Senator, Mark Begich, has been flirting with the Blue Dogs. He's made it official:
WASHINGTON – A diverse group of 15 Senate Democrats today announced the formation of a new moderate coalition that will meet regularly to shape public policy. The group’s goal is to work with the Senate leadership and the new administration to craft common-sense solutions to urgent national problems.
The Moderate Dems Working Group will meet every other Tuesday before the Democratic Caucus lunch to discuss legislative strategies and ideas. The Moderate Dems held their second meeting Tuesday to focus on the upcoming budget negotiations and the importance of passing a fiscally responsible spending plan in the Senate.
Leading the new group are Democratic Senators Evan Bayh of Indiana, Tom Carper of Delaware and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas. “This group can be an effective advocate for compromise within a Senate that is often divided along party lines,” Sen. Mark Begich said. “We are about getting things done and finding common ground on issues of controlling federal spending and providing accountability to taxpayers.
When it comes to those issues and areas such as energy and health care, our coalition can be a voice of moderation.”
I'm sorely disappointed, but not taken entirely by surprise on this. Sen. Begich's press release goes on to name the team and feed a line of bullshit about their "goals":
Other members of the moderate coalition are Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet of Colorado, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Bill Nelson of Florida, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, and Mark Warner of Virginia.
At the working group meeting, Senator Bayh acknowledged that such a large group was unlikely to agree on all major issues before the Senate. Yet the Moderate Dems are joined by a shared commitment to pursue pragmatic, fiscally sustainable policies across a range of issues, such as deficit containment, health care reform, the housing crisis, educational reform, energy policy and climate change.
“We have a wonderful opportunity to break gridlock in Washington and accomplish big things for the American people, but we also have a responsibility to pursue sensible solutions that will work,” Bayh said. “Our group seeks to work collaboratively with the Obama administration and Senate leadership to make sure legislation is crafted in a practical way that will solve people’s problems. It’s going to take all of us working together in the Senate to get the 60 votes necessary to deliver the change the American people deserve.”
The Press Release isn't yet posted on Sen. Begich's site, so I'll post it in its entirety:
“The number of moderate Democrats has grown substantially in the past two Congresses – and in America. We can play a constructive role in helping our leadership and the Obama administration get things done in this new Congress,” Senator Carper said. “Now, more than ever, the Senate needs to put ideology aside, to find common ground on legislation, and to deliver results for the American people.”
“Arkansans are pragmatic and expect results from their leaders in Congress,” Senator Lincoln said. “I’m proud to play a constructive role as we work with the administration and Senate leadership to help reach consensus on important issues and serve as a voice for fiscal responsibility.
” Of the working group’s formation, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “If we are going to deliver the change Americans demanded and move our country forward, it will require the courage to get past our political differences and get to work. Established organizations like Third Way and new ventures like this group offer us a new opportunity to get things done, and I support every effort that puts real solutions above political posturing.”
As an officer of the Alaska Democratic Party, I'm fully obligated to put the most positive face on this possible.
Paint that smile on to my frown, will you?
The progressive fundraising group, Blue America, which hosted Sen. Begich for two online fundraisers and touted his candidacy through the 2008 campaign season, immediately reacted, removing Sen. Begich from their fundraising page.
Here's Sen. Evan Bayh announcing the group earlier today. Apparently, the White House has responded favorably to this coalition: