Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Evan Bayh lashes out at Congress, gridlock
Washington, DC—In a sign that political paralysis in Congress is taking a toll on its own members, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) on Monday unexpectedly announced he would not run for reelection this year, blasting the Senate for its recent failure to address major issues like reducing unemployment and the federal deficit.
“After all these years, my passion for service to my fellow citizens is undiminished, but my desire to do so in Congress has waned,” said Bayh, whose decision to step down was all the more surprising because he appeared almost certain to be reelected to a third term in November even though he represents a predominantly Republican state.
“There is too much partisanship and not enough progress—too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem-solving,” Bayh said in a statement. “Even at a time of enormous challenge, the people’s business is not being done.”
“Two weeks ago, the Senate voted down a bipartisan commission to deal with one of the greatest threats facing our nation: our exploding deficits and debt. The measure would have passed, but seven members who had endorsed the idea instead voted ‘no’ for short-term political reasons,” he said.
“Just last week, a major piece of legislation to create jobs—the public’s top priority—fell apart amid complaints from both the left and right. All of this and much more has led me to believe that there are better ways to serve my fellow citizens, my beloved state and our nation than continued service in Congress.”
Bayh blamed “so-called centrist Democrats” for enabling Republican obstructionism, claiming that they were exploiting Senate filibuster rules to extract concessions that capitulate to capricious Republican demands and water down White House initiatives. “A handful of ‘Blue Dog’ Democrats in both chambers did all they could to blunt Obama’s agenda, block meaningful health care reform, and reinforce the image of the Democrats as a party unable to govern,” Bayh said. “The Republicans couldn’t have done it all by themselves—they needed the help of a key group of Democrats who were willing to repeat their talking points and serve as all-purpose concern trolls. Some of them did it for personal gain, some for sheer pettiness, but it doesn’t matter what their motives were. What matters is that they have effectively sealed the Democrats’ fate for the foreseeable future.”
Bayh refused to name specific members of Congress in the statement, but a senior aide said privately that Bayh was “especially furious” at Senate Democrats who pose publicly as “deficit hawks” but vote repeatedly to lower tax rates on the very rich. “Evan wants those people out of the Senate altogether,” said the aide, “and he wants them out now.”