It Wouldn’t be a White House Proposal Without ‘Centrist’ Democrats to Undermine It

It Wouldn’t be a White House Proposal Without ‘Centrist’ Democrats to Undermine It

It Wouldn’t be a White House Proposal Without ‘Centrist’ Democrats to Undermine It

For the second time in as many weeks, “centrist” Democrats have emerged to criticize any semblence of liberalism from the president. 


After President Obama announced the American Jobs Act, conservative and moderate Democrats emerged to criticize the plan for its spending increases. Today, those same Democrats have followed up their complaints with attacks on Obama’s plan for deficit reduction, with particular disdain for the new taxes on high income earners. Politico reports:

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, who is up for reelection in 2012, has supported raising taxes on millionaires but was still weighing whether he’d support higher taxes on those who make more than $200,000 a year, said spokesman Dan McLaughlin.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), a key moderate who’s up for reelection next year, didn’t mince words: “There’s too much discussion about raising taxes right now, not enough focus on cutting spending.”

The Obama administration is far from perfect, and this latest push for jobs and higher taxes on the rich might be too little, too late. But before we unload on the Obama administration for its failure to hew to consistently liberal policies, we should reserve some opprobrium for the “centrist” Democratic senators who both attack proposals from the White House, and—in Ben Nelson’s case especially—work to block the president’s policies. Over the last three years, these senators have placed their narrow political advantage at the forefront, with negative consequences for nearly every liberal initative from the Obama White House.

Insofar that anyone deserves anger from progressives, it’s these senators. Indeed, in the long term, efforts to displace Democratic “centrists” with actual liberals will do more to advance progressive policy than any amount of disdain for the president or his administration.

Dear reader,

I hope you enjoyed the article you just read. It’s just one of the many deeply reported and boundary-pushing stories we publish every day at The Nation. In a time of continued erosion of our fundamental rights and urgent global struggles for peace, independent journalism is now more vital than ever.

As a Nation reader, you are likely an engaged progressive who is passionate about bold ideas. I know I can count on you to help sustain our mission-driven journalism.

This month, we’re kicking off an ambitious Summer Fundraising Campaign with the goal of raising $15,000. With your support, we can continue to produce the hard-hitting journalism you rely on to cut through the noise of conservative, corporate media. Please, donate today.

A better world is out there—and we need your support to reach it.


Katrina vanden Heuvel
Editorial Director and Publisher, The Nation

Ad Policy