Has Bayh's moment arrived?

October 28, 2009
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On paper, Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh has plenty of qualifications to be president. As a governor, he kept a lid on spending. As a senator, he has stayed close to the political center, which enables him to work with both sides of the aisle.

The soft stuff is there, too. Articulate, telegenic looks, great family.

Bayh’s attempts at higher office have fallen short, though. He’s been passed over a couple of times for vice president. And he ended his own shot at the Democratic nomination for president in late 2006 after it became apparent he couldn’t compete with the Obama and Clinton juggernauts.

Why the disappointments? Some observers say that despite the resume, he isn’t actually known for much. He hasn’t accomplished enough to establish a reputation. Voters don’t know what stirs his soul.

Maybe fiscal responsibility is just that calling. It’s been a consistent theme of his tenure in politics, and now he’s taking another step that ramps up his visibility.

Bayh is taking the lead in asking Obama and Senate leaders to create an independent commission to wrestle the debt into submission.

The political climate in Washington has become so poisonous that virtually any attempt to cut spending is torn to bits by opponents. Often it isn’t only the idea left in tatters; the people are, too.

So, Bayh suggests, a commission of Democrats, Republicans and the administration could make the hard choices. He wants to tie creation of the commission to a must-pass vote next month to allow the government to borrow nearly $1 trillion.

The commission would come up with budgets to send to Congress that then would be voted up or down. Sort of like the commissions that have made the politically unpalatable decisions about which military bases to close.

The nation certainly needs a type of savior to dig it out of its fiscal tar pit. Perhaps Bayh could pull it off.

How do you feel about fiscal responsibility as presidential mettle? Is it sexy enough?

  • Account Executive
    Evan Bayh is still too closely tied to the Democratic Party and may alienate the moderate vote in Indiana. The farther he can stay away from Obama, the better. He better be aware of the pitfalls of this endeavor.
  • Agreed. Evan has been balancing the conservative image at home while being a liberal in D.C. for a long time. In other words he acts way to conservative for the dems to nominate him. If he tries to go liberal, he will alienate his voter base. He needs to be nominated to some cabinet level post before he could ever think of running. Then he could go liberal and not worry about the voters back home. That said, chumming up to Obama right now is not a good idea for anyone.
  • Once in a lifetime
    Bayh is staring at a once in a lifetime opportunity. He should, at the appropriate time, come out strongly against the Health Insurance proposal. His reason, "the country just can't afford it now" and it doesn't fit his beliefs. He will instantly become the hero of conservative Democrats, and there are some of those. He enhances his Indiana standing and improves his reelection chances. His standing with Republicans will rise. And, he might emerge the leader of those conservative Democrats. If Obama continues to decline in popularity, what better position could he then be in to challenge for the nomination? The downside is that the liberals and Obama will not like him and will not treat him well. With his support of Hillary, I doubt they like him anyway. So he doesn't get invited to the White House or to the cocktail parties. So what, he has the chance to make history. His only shot at a nomination is to distance and differentiate himself from Obama.
  • Lid on what?
    Where were you living while Bayh was Gov of Indiana? Kept a lid on spending? No he did not! Don't you remember all the car bumper stickers asking "Where did the money go?"
    Evan Buyh has done nothing while in the Senate except enable his wife to serve on corporate board after board which made them millionaires. He has done Indiana a mis service his entire public career.
  • Fiscal Conservatives Should Support Health Care
    A new poll by Research 2000 puts support for the Public Option in Indiana at 52 percent and at 66 percent in Marion County. Here is a link showing the poll questions, http://boldprogressives.org/bayhpoll. This is something he will vote for because both the Indiana voters support it as well as it is the most cost saving option and can help reduce our massive deficit. All fiscal conservatives should support the best cost saver is actually a public option and health care reform.

    I think that Senator Bayh is silly for trying to look like he won't support something that in the end he will vote. His father crafted the 25th and 26th Amendments. Now, that is a leader.
    • I am suspect of all polls. There are many ways they can be intentionally or unintentionally distorted. From the time of day they are taken, to how the sample is determined to how the question is asked.

      That said, 52% is far from overwhelming. Pretty much the difference between Republican and Democrats. If I was Evan, I would want more than 52% backing the bill before I did.

      He will wait until they are ready for a vote. If they need his vote to pass it, he will vote for it. If they do not, he will vote against it. He knows if healthcare screws up because of this, he wants to be nowhere near it. It will destroy the Democrat party. Of course it will also destroy healthcare and possibly our economy with it.
    • Fiscal Conservative?
      When I go to Evan Bayh's website, all I hear about is how he is getting the military to buy more jets made in Indiana, and how he is working to cut taxes. When does that make somebody fiscally conservative. Fiscal responsibility means raising taxes. Until people are willing to acknowledge this fact, the deficits will continue. Now, if Evan Bayh thinks we need to put together a task force to figure out how to raise taxes without getting thrown out of office, that might actually be fiscally responsible. But until then, his claims of fiscal responsibility ring hollow. He's one of those Reagan/Bush/Bush II fiscal conservatives - the kind that talk a lot about fiscal responsibility but lead to enormous deficits. Does everybody think it is a coincidence that taxes went up in the 1990's and the budget was balanced? You want to be fiscally responsible, support tax increases along with spending cuts, and we might actually balance a budget.
    • Dem or Rep?
      Evan Bayh has been an embarrasment to the Democrat party. Perhaps he should consider a run as a Republican, based on his voting record.

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