Introducing the Congressional Populist Caucus

by: David Sirota

Tue Feb 10, 2009 at 16:30


This is good news:

The fierce populist streak that has been coursing through America will soon have an official voice on Capitol Hill: the Populist Caucus.

Rep. Bruce Braley, an Iowa Democrat, will officially announce the formation of the caucus later this week, with 21 founding members -- all Democrats. The initial purpose will be to influence legislation from within the Democratic caucus, but Braley did not rule out opening the group to Republicans.

Braley said that the caucus will give voice to the populist anger created by the plummeting economy and opaque bank bailout.

Looking over the initial membership of this caucus, I think we can expect some good stuff from it in the weeks and months ahead on the bailout, on regulation and on trade issues. It could become a key player in ratcheting up the "Make Him Do It" Dynamic.

David Sirota :: Introducing the Congressional Populist Caucus

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what is your take on the bailout? seems like there are wildly divergent views (0.00 / 0)
about what geithner's (non)announcement means (with some even suggesting that nationalization is in the cards).  

good job democrats (4.00 / 1)
your political survival will now hinge on how well you are able to put your ear to the ground and hear the stampede coming

Not needed (0.00 / 0)
this group is not needed. dems are the populist party already.

how about ideas on getting this economy off foreign oil instead of these "social groups."  


Er... (4.00 / 2)
There are two caucuses within the Democratic party that are closely identified with non-populist economic policies, so that statement seems pretty difficult to defend.  The New Dems and Blue Dogs both focus on balanced-budget corporate friendly politics.  Progressive caucus obviously doesn't, but as has been covered on this blog, it is an unweildy (open membership) caucus that has difficulty promoting policy in the unified fashion that the blue dogs do.

Without addressing the benefits of either policy perspective, it is pretty clear that there is a lack of organizing (a roots gap perhaps?) for the significant populist wing of the Democratic Party, compared to the more economically conservative wing.

I support John McCain because children are too healthy anyway.


[ Parent ]
Er... (0.00 / 0)
There are two caucuses within the Democratic party that are closely identified with non-populist economic policies, so that statement seems pretty difficult to defend.  The New Dems and Blue Dogs both focus on balanced-budget corporate friendly politics.  Progressive caucus obviously doesn't, but as has been covered on this blog, it is an unweildy (open membership) caucus that has difficulty promoting policy in the unified fashion that the blue dogs do.

Without addressing the benefits of either policy perspective, it is pretty clear that there is a lack of organizing (a roots gap perhaps?) for the significant populist wing of the Democratic Party, compared to the more economically conservative wing.

I support John McCain because children are too healthy anyway.


[ Parent ]
Great News (4.00 / 1)
Looking forward to coordinated pushback against the banksters and their shills. Also, I think it would be very good for the caucus to open up to Republicans, to forge our own, better bipartisanship -- a populist center.

http://www.funnyordie.com/jame...

This is an extremely interesting development (0.00 / 0)
They seem like a good bunch, ranging from members from the most liberal wing of the party, to those who are closely affiliated with unions, to those who simply run in conservative districts on populist economic themes.

I have a few questions that I think need to be answered to get real insight on the role they'll play with this administration.  One is whether, like the Blue Dogs, it is a group that requires application for membership.  A self-selected group will be able to accomplish far more in terms of coordinated and unanimous action than a group with open enrollment can.

What are the rules about being in multiple ideological caucuses in the House? Do the Blue Dogs allow members to be in multiple caucuses? Will the Populist Caucus? I can't imagine all these members in good standing are dropping out of the progressive caucus, but if the populists want to build real independent power, that may be necessary at some point.

How willing will this group be to stand up to Obama?  Take Schacowsky and Ellison, for example. Both are very liberal, but both have constituencies who voted overwhelmingly for Obama. The same is true for many others in the group. If they cannot act in unison to oppose Obama on some issues, they will not build real independent power. I guess only time will tell what their intentions and abilities are, in that respect.

Will they put the "Make Him Do It" dynamic into action? Will they threaten to block legislation until they get concessions? Will they be able to organize effectively? Those are the questions that will determine whether or not they can make a real impact in this Congress.

I support John McCain because children are too healthy anyway.


Braley has exceeded my expectations (0.00 / 0)
I don't agree with everything he's done, but he is very smart and solid on most progressive issues.

He was also very active in pushing Waxman over Dingell, and he is now a vice-chair of the oversight subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. They're holding hearings tomorrow on the salmonella outbreak in peanut butter.

Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.


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