What passes for moderation

As Occupy demonstrations reached Maine this week, some activists want to know why their “moderate” Republican senators didn’t hesitate to kill a credible jobs bill this week, despite its inclusion of popular, bipartisan provisions. Jamison Foser noted that Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) has already explained her position, though I don’t imagine protesters will find it especially satisfying.

In her five-paragraph statement about her vote against the jobs bill, Snowe indicated an objection to only one of the bill’s provisions: the surcharge on adjusted gross income in excess of one million dollars a year, which would affect only one-tenth of one percent of Maine residents.

So it’s pretty clear what side Snowe is on: She sides with the richest one-tenth of one percent of Mainers, and against 99.9 percent of her constituents. It really doesn’t get much clearer than that. But just to drive the point home, Snowe spoke to group of businessmen [Friday] morning, where she courageously told them their taxes are too high and they are over-regulated.

Also remember, this comes just a few weeks after Snowe tried to argue that government spending is “clearly … the problem” when it comes to the nation’s finances, which is a popular line among conservatives, despite being wrong.

To reiterative a point from last month, there’s some prime real estate in the political landscape for genuine GOP centrists who could have a significant impact. Real Republican moderates, if they existed, would not only generate considerable attention, but could potentially have an instrumental role in shaping policy and helping Congress actually function for a change.

But that’s not an option. The best of the best — relatively speaking, of course — is Olympia Snowe, and she’s so terrified of a primary challenge and breaking ranks with her party, she’d rather kill a jobs bill without a debate during a jobs crisis than ask millionaires and billionaires to pay just a little more.

Where have you gone, Mark Hatfield; a nation turns its lonely eyes to you.