Wednesday :: Mar 9, 2005

What To Do With The Breaux Brigade?


by rayman

Like many of you, I'm seriously depressed about the upcoming passage of the Loan Shark Protection Act. Not necessarily because it's a horrible bill and demonstrates how slavishly loyal Republicans are to their corporate masters (we already knew that). Rather, the not-insignificant support for the bill among Democrats in both chambers is what's giving us the blooze. Yes, I realize that some of the Democrats who voted for the bill are from Blue states and/or districts. But overall, the fact that a preponderance of Democrats who voted for this monstrosity hail from economically struggling Red States gets to the heart of what is a significant problem with some of the Democrats in our "big tent." This is what I call the "Breaux Brigade."

Louisiana Senator John Breaux, as you'll recall, was the famed "dealmaker" who gave Republican administrations bipartisan support on any number of horrendous bills for decades. As Jon Chait reminded us a few months ago:

In 1981, Breaux supported one of President Reagan's budgets on the condition that Reagan preserve tariffs on imported sugar — a loathsome form of corporate welfare that raises food prices and hurts the poor in order to subsidize the sugar industry, much of which is based in Louisiana.

At the time, he commented that his vote could not be bought, "but it can be rented."

Don't that make y'all misty eyed? Anyway, I have no problem with Democrats who are culturally conservative and economically populist (i.e. Harry Reid). For better or worse, this has been a defining feature of the Democratic Party since Andrew Jackson. The problem with the Red State Congressmen in the Breaux Brigade is not only that they're reactionary on many social issues, but they're shameless corporate whores to boot. In effect, we're getting the worst of all possible worlds from them. Even more disconcerting is that their constituents are going to be hurt the most from tort "reform," this week's bankruptcy farce, and the like.

So yes, I realize that Landrieau, the Nelson twins (no, not these guys), Artur Davis and the like are needed to achieve a Democratic majority in Congress. But we have to start asking ourselves at what cost, and what actions we should or can take to set our Red State brethren straight.

rayman :: 3:29 PM :: Comments (18) :: Digg It!