THE PREDICTABLE HAND-WRINGING…. We should probably keep our “Profile in Courage” Award nominations on hold for Congress’ center-right Democrats.

Vulnerable House and Senate Democrats want their leaders to skip the party’s controversial legislative agenda for next year to help save their seats in Congress.

In the run-up to the 2010 midterm elections, they don’t want to be forced to vote on climate change, immigration reform and gays in the military, which they say should be set aside so Congress can focus on jobs and the economy.

Don’t make them vote, in other words, on anything that voters might find remotely controversial. Maybe, if they govern from a defensive crouch, and just skip over party priorities, Republicans won’t be mean to them and the public will respect their gumption.


The electorate handed Democrats huge majorities in the House and Senate a year ago. For these vulnerable incumbents, why do they think voters did that? To not tackle tough issues?

For that matter, a year from now when they’re seeking re-election, what to do these vulnerable incumbents intend to tell their constituents about their accomplishments? “Vote for me; I encouraged congressional leaders to put off important issues for some other time.”

That ought to get lawmakers’ supporters feeling motivated about turning out on Election Day.

The article quotes a variety of lawmakers, none of whom think the majority should just stop trying, but all of whom believe Democrats should put aside every issue except job creation. Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-N.C.) said, “Three things ought to be the top priority: jobs, jobs and jobs.” Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) added, “[J]obs should be our top priority and we shouldn’t do anything that detracts from that.”

That sounds fairly reasonable, except for the unspoken caveats. Lawmakers like Bayh a) don’t want to spend more money on public investment bills that would create jobs; b) oppose the climate change bill that would create good jobs in the energy sector; and c) would prefer to see policymakers emphasize deficit reduction immediately, which would undermine job growth.


Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.