|Let's review the recent times when the New Democrats made their voices heard, as a caucus, on a legislative fight:
So, New Democrats seem to have made three major public appearances over the last six months: first, when they funneled $700 billion to banks, second when they vowed to prevent too much regulation of the financial industry, and third when they delayed a House vote on bankruptcy reform. Given this, I have to ask, are the New Democrats really anything except a congressional guarantee for Wall Street? Do they do anything as a caucus except protect, and funnel money toward, the financial services industry? These are the only three legislative areas where the caucus seemed to be making any waves at all.
- Back in September and October of 2008, they took the lead in supporting giving $700 billion to banks. Beyond Blue Dogs, beyond Progressives, beyond Republicans, on both the first and second bailout vote, no group in Congress supported the bailout more than New Democrats. In addition to the votes they supplied on their own, New Democrat actively whipped for the bailout among other House members, thus allowing Wall Street lobbyists to credit the New Dems for the bailout's eventual passage:
New Dems helped Democratic congressional leaders explain the legislation to resistant Democrats, and coalition leaders actively whipped votes for the measure. Financial lobbyists fighting for the legislation credit New Dems with helping TARP win congressional approval.
- Second, two weeks ago, New Democrats made their public re-emergence by claiming they will take the lead on re-writing financial regulations, seeking to avoid liberal over-reach:
Pro-business House Democrats are seizing on the high-stakes issue of writing new financial rules as a way to gain clout - and a few headlines - in the larger, crowded Democratic Caucus.(...)
The New Democrat Coalition, comprising 60-plus centrist Democrats, are planning a news conference early next week to unveil its principles for revamping financial market regulation, Politico has learned.(...)
"Congress can be very well intentioned," she said, "but in its best intentions sometimes so overreacts or overcompensates that it can create other unintended consequences that are problematic and stifling to our economy."
Because, you know, if there is one thing Congress has consistently done over the past thirty years, it is impose too strict regulations on the financial services industry.
- Next, last week New Democrats delayed House consideration of bankruptcy reform on mortgages:
Then a surprising thing happened. Pelosi, who disagreed with this critique, huddled at the side of the room with her top deputies - and then buckled. She suspended consideration of the housing bill so more thought could be put into the bankruptcy item.
This hardly amounts to a breakthrough win for party moderates - or a major concession by the speaker. But it was a consequential moment in the minds of moderate leaders who often find themselves marginalized in a caucus dominated by liberals.
"It shows we have bench strength, and it shows we can flex," said California Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher, who chairs the New Democrat Coalition and played a central role in negotiations over the bankruptcy bill.
Seriously, the New Democrats seem to be perfectly ordinary Democrats, but with one gaping difference: they consistently work to funnel money to, and prevent regulation of, Wall Street on all major legislation. Their website doesn't list any caucus accomplishments since April of 2008. The Politco puff piece on their new executive director doesn't list any policy accomplishments for the New Democrats except the Wall Street bailout. And speaking of their new executive director, he previously worked as a lobbyist for the financial services industry, trying to enable banks to get around predatory lending laws and make even more bad loans. He works out of New Democratic chair Ellen Taushcer's office, whose background includes work as an investment banker for Bear Stearns and served on multiple stock exchanges.
Is there any legislation the New Democrats work on, as a caucus, except limiting financial regulations and funneling more bailout money to zombie banks? Anything at all? And I'm not talking about individual members of the caucus, but rather when the caucus as a whole threw its weight around. Can anyone find any other recent accomplishments for New Democrats, as a caucus, outside of protecting, and funding, Wall Street? Is that their only purpose for existing?
Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?