Josh Gottheimer and His Merry Band Are Not 'Moderates' or 'Centrists.' They're Conservative Democrats.

·3-min read
Photo credit: Kevin Dietsch - Getty Images
Photo credit: Kevin Dietsch - Getty Images

As the Just-So-Crazy-It-Might-Work double-dip infrastructure creature groans its way through the House of Representatives, having hit its first serious roadblock Monday night, it’s helpful to keep our terms as clear and as accurate as possible. Here’s the first rule: Rep. Josh Gottheimer and his merry band of DLC nostalgics are not “moderate Democrats.” There is nothing “moderate” about attempting to derail your party’s best chance in 40 years to repair the economic and social damage that began with the first Reagan budget in 1981. There is nothing “moderate” about opposing measures that are popular not only with the most dependable Democratic voters, but also with the general public. Calling Gottheimer and his allies “moderate” is loading the dice in an unacceptable way. They are “conservative Democrats,” a designation that somehow has passed almost completely from use.

(And these people are even less “centrist” than they are “moderate.” The centre of the Democratic Party is best represented by most of the provisions in the budget that these people are trying to monkey-wrench.)

There is nothing “moderate” about what Gottheimer is trying to do, nor is there anything “moderate” about the high-falutin’ rhetoric with which Gottheimer and the others are adorning what is clearly an attempt to stay in the good graces of the donor class. From the Washington Post:

Gottheimer, meanwhile, faulted progressives and the “far-left” portions of the Democratic Party for jeopardizing an infrastructure package that would improve the nation’s roads, bridges, pipes, ports and Internet connections. Waiting until after reconciliation, he said, could prevent the passage of widely backed public-works spending until late in the fall. While Gottheimer added that he supports a reconciliation package, he stressed moderates are “holding strong to our principled beliefs.”

Gottheimer at least is doing some constituent service; his “principled beliefs” undoubtedly include fending off tax increases for all the hedge-fund vultures in his district. But I wish someone would explain to me what the hell Rep. Stephanie Murphy, Democrat from Florida, is talking about here. From the Orlando Sentinel:

This week, the House will seek a path forward. My intention is to be constructive and make principled compromises. Despite misgivings, I would vote to pass the Senate-passed budget resolution, thereby allowing the reconciliation process to proceed, but only if the House is also given an opportunity to vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill. I cannot in good conscience vote to start the reconciliation process unless we also finish our work on the infrastructure bill.

How in god’s name is this an issue of “conscience” one way or the other? This is essentially an argument about two legislative strategies, both of which are ethically and morally neutral. Is Murphy seriously telling us that her conscience would be offended if the House passed the budget resolution before the infrastructure bill, which is going to sail through the House whenever the House votes on it? That’s preposterous, and it’s 90 percent posturing. It also lends a bit of credence to the opinion of the mainstream progressive members of the House that the conservative Democrats will pass the infrastructure bill and then torpedo the budget resolution anyway. That’s the way I’d bet, anyway.

So there was no vote on anything as Monday became Tuesday. The administration, its progressive allies, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi are still trying to pull off an unprecedented two-rail shot while members of their own party are blocking the pockets. Democrats, boy, I dunno.

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