The Progressive Caucus Becomes a Political Force

Simulposted at Daily Kos

There is nothing more influential and powerful in American Politics than a united and unswerving voting bloc.

If a group of (in this case) Representatives can mange to hold together, while holding a consistent political and policy viewpoint they are able to wield a great deal of power. Not just in the power of their votes, but in how legislation in general is approached and crafted.

We have all seen, much to our regret, how much power the Blue Dog bloc can wield. Because they are united and have a clear agenda that they represent, they are a force that simply must be reckoned with.

Well now there is a new Bloc on the block. The Progressive Bloc. And not only do they outnumber the Blue Dogs, but they are rising stars that have the potential to…IF they show they are powerful, attract new members and become even more of a force.

Wikipedia puts the number of ProgCauc (Gotta get a better name!) members at around 80.

From Wiki:

The CPC’s founding statement of purpose states that it was “organized around the principles of social and economic justice, a non-discriminatory society, and national priorities which represent the interests of all people, not just the wealthy and powerful.”


According to their website, the CPC advocates “universal access to affordable, high quality healthcare,” fair trade agreements, living wage laws, the right of all workers to organize into labor unions and engage in collective bargaining, the abolition of significant portions of the USA PATRIOT Act, the legalization of same-sex marriage, strict campaign finance reform laws, a complete pullout from the war in Iraq, a crackdown on corporate welfare and influence, an increase in income tax rates on the wealthy, tax cuts for the poor, and an increase in welfare spending by the federal government.

In other words….these ARE the Better Democrats we have been looking for.

There is however, one serious, and very familiar, problem. The ProgCauc has traditionally been a herd of cats, Much like a certain website we are all familiar with. But just like that website, when they do come together and solidly get behind a cause or an idea, they have the potential to be VERY powerful. As we are now seeing in the Health care debate, with their insistence on a Public Option…and their victory in getting Obama to at least include this much in his HCR speech last night.

For example, some have suggested that that the public option go into effect only in those markets where insurance companies are not providing affordable policies.  Others propose a co-op or another non-profit entity to administer the plan.  These are all constructive ideas worth exploring. But I will not back down on the basic principle that if Americans can’t find affordable coverage, we will provide you with a choice.  And I will make sure that no government bureaucrat or insurance company bureaucrat gets between you and the care that you need.

A bit of weak tea….from anyone but Obama, who at this point still seems to be a bit disingenuous regarding the Public Option that the ProgCauc has fought so hard for. He seems in his infinitely non-committal, yet certainly more feisty style, to define it down. While at the seem time continuing the really disingenuous part, the…”Or something comparable that accomplishes the same thind” bit.

When everyone knows there is nothing comparable to the array of goodness the PO offers.

But still and all….what would he have said, what wiggle room would he have allowed, if the ProgCauc had NOT been holding firm on the PO?

We owe them a debt of thanks. And we owe them more!

We owe them our effort. Our effort to help them turn themselves from a herd of cats that has traditionally been scared off far too easily, into a REAL SOLID FORCE in American Politics!

As I said, these ARE the better Democrats. These are OUR Democrats.

And we need to find ways to empower them and encourage them and support them. Because empowering, encouraging, and supporting them is essentially empowering, encouraging, and supporting US. And our causes, policies and agenda.

And if you put on your Secret Translator Glasses and put them on the Centrist Rhetoric Needed to Get Elected setting and translate it into ProgCauc Talk….the agenda of the Progressive Caucus turns out to remarkably similar to Obama’s Agenda. At least the good parts.

The President and The Progressive Caucus are natural allies.

We need to emphasize that. And we need to make sure both the ProgCauc and The President know it. Because as they both come to realize it, it will make them BOTH more powerful……and help immensely in passing true Progressive Legislation. In the face (so to speak) of the Blue Dog and Republican opposition to a Obama/Progressive alliance and agenda.

That alliance, especially as more and more Representatives, and even Senators get on board, could become THE most powerful force in Congressional politics.

Right now, in the hangover of the Liberal bashing of the Bush Years and the (now failed) post-partisanship program of Obama, this seems like a bit of a pipe dream.

But as the Repubs and Blue dogs continue their overweening and omnipresent Policy of NO and fight The Pres at every turn…who WILL he turn to for Congressional support? Who WILL be his allies in Congress?

This alliance could be THE game changer.

If we and they can find ways to encourage and nourish it.

For now, please donate to the Standing Up For The Public Option ActBlue Page.

Send a note to Raul Grijalva and go rec teacherken’s diary to keep it up where more folks can see it and send their own note.

CALL AND WRITE the Progressive Caucus members and both thank them for their efforts….and encourage them to stick together in their VERY powerful Voting Bloc. And encourage them to think about what a difference an  Obama/ProgCauc alliance could mean to American politics.

Feel free to send them a link or copy of this diary if you wish!

And put your thinking caps on to find ways to make this alliance a powerful reality!


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  1. Photobucket

  2. ProgCauc (Gotta get a better name!) members

    Blue Ponies ? ?


  3. Budhy, I am still trying to get a straight answer from the “Progressive Caucus” as to whether or not it has dropped its earlier demand for a ROBUST public option, or whether it is now satisfied with a public option which will be open to 10% of the public in 2013.  The latter option, as many commentators have suggested, will not curtail costs — the idea of curtailing costs is linked to the average individual’s ability to tell the insurance companies to get lost, no, we don’t want to buy your product any more.

    What is their thinking here?  Do they think, as Slinkerwink argued today, that they are doing this to “have something in place” when something is already in place, i.e. Medicare? Could you find this out for me?  

  4. about mandating people who cannot afford 16% of their income to pay a private entity that does nothing but extort? Great speech rhetorically but the bill they are proposing is so regressive I doubt it’s very constitutionality. Forced participation where instead of sucking it out of the treasury they just bypass the middleman and make you pay for a ‘product’ that is so expensive you won’t be able to live decently and you will still not have access to medical help. It won’t even kick in until this batch of crooks is gone daddy gone.

    Reform without public option is not possible it’s hardly possible with it and the little lecture Obama gave the progressive really pissed me off. But hey I’m irresponsible don’t want to pay a corporation for my rights. I want to be able to live a decent life and eat healthy maybe keep my house and business.. The progressive caucus I will support but I doubt they can do a damn thing to actually stop this bill from hell. This administration is  rapidly becoming not even good cop just enforcers for the thugs domestically and in the world at large. So the best we can get is 7% of people allowed to have and option.. That’s not progress it’s not even democracy it’s one party rule by and for the corporations. Pathetic to think that we must fight for our right to get screwed out of our real rights.        

    • socks on September 10, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    ………. that Obama’s “…”Or something comparable that accomplishes the same thing” bit.” could not be an introduction of the idea of dropping the Medicare age limit to age +-55. Anyone newly added pays a monthly premium until the usual age they would be covered. That would take in a load of folks and increasingly become evident how cost effective aditions under a not-for-profit run system is. And how simple and timly it can be put into effect. None of theis waiting 4 years to set up the waffel system now being contemplated.

    Single payer is not complicated or hard to add on to.

    • TomP on September 10, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    better in blue!  🙂

    • BruceMcF on September 11, 2009 at 3:27 am

    … my view of Axelrod’s talking points after the speech, as recounted in my essay, Axelrod: Government by Consent of the Corporation, the script is:

    A public option will be included in the House bill. It will not be included in the Senate bill. It will be killed in Conference. The argument will be made – indeed, the talking points by Axelrod gives us the entire argument that will be made – that the resulting bill will be better than nothing.

    Unlike the tea parties which we mocked for not having the impact we thought they were hoping to have, which in retrospect were clearly organizing tools for the Long Hot August campaign so that the organizers did not care whether they were impressive events in their own terms, since the target was to recruit the gullible and provide them with the tools to be a disruptive force that could be amplified …

    … we know precisely what is coming. We know that its coming down to a reconciliation report as amendments to the House Bill that will eliminate the public option. We need to have the parliamentary game planned out in advance including the various monkey wrenches that the Republicans and Hedge Fund Democrats can throw into the works.

  5. in this so called political reality the progressive caucus is toothless. I support them but feel that when the house speaker laughs at them and the WH won’t talk to them they are nothing more then a sop to the left a teaser to get real progressives on board. They are heroes to stand firm and it’s tragic that the party uses them  to stop progress and maintain the notion that we are the equivalent of the right wing fringe. Liberal is still a dirty word, and both party’s mean to keep it that way.

    Yesterday I lost all ‘hope’. Sorry if I was offensive in my negativity. Every path seems blocked, it’s surreal to work for what you believe to be pure evil, regardless of what your Dear Leader says about CEO’s of the extortion industry. Heretic that I am politically, here I am today not willing to walk away cause that’s what they count on. Proud to be a purity troll and a CT believer and a Nadarite? to boot. I really don’t like Nadar but you know I paraphrase him, jeeze.          

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