Disunity ’09?

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If the Campaign for America’s Future is taking the lead in opposing the formation of the “Moderate Dems Working Group”, then the group Third Way is their foil. When the group was announced last week, Third Way released a statement which read, in part, “We are pleased that a new working group of moderates has emerged in the Senate that is seeking to fulfill the mandate of transformational change, and we are pleased to have been asked to contribute ideas and policies to this vital group.”

And that should come as no surprise. Three of Third Way’s honorary Senate co-chairs (Evan Bayh, Tom Carper, and Blanch Lincoln) are also leaders of the new working group.

Matt Bennett, a Third Way spokesperson told me “we’re very involved…. We were disappointed that the Campaign for America’s Future came out against it.” He says the group knew that Harry Reid’s support would be forthcoming and disputes that the working group will stand athwart the president’s agenda.He says the goal is to prevent, not encourage a repeat of the stimulus debacle when things like health and energy reform and the budget move through the Senate by making sure the members of the group have a say in major legislation early in the process.

But that’s precisely what the working group’s opponents want to prevent. They’re worried that the group already has too much power and that, by consolidating, they’ll have yet more power to weaken legislation or subject it to the desires of powerful interest groups.

Incidentally, both groups are involved with a new coalition called Unity ’09, which will draw upon the resources of member organizations (money, grassroots, etc.) to pressure members of Congress to back the Whate House agenda. Third Way is part of that coalition and the Campaign expects to be shortly. Of course, the schism within Unity ’09 probably won’t stop conservatives from lashing out at it–recently Bill O’Reilly reacted to the news that Democratic groups participate in a daily strategy conference call by saying, “”This, ladies and gentlemen is, a threat to America.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM’s senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he’s led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com

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