What No Labels is Up To

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 28 2011 11:39 AM

What No Labels is Up To

Were you curious? No? Too bad. The non-partisan (or trans-partisan, or unpartisan) political group, which debuted with some fanfare this year, has faded a bit because its regular calls for action are remarkably unspecific about what action is being called for. An effective third party group's agenda introduces some dynamic new element to the conversation; this group's agenda is based entirely on the congressional calender, which is a problem.

To wit, the new No Labels campaign is a call for members to write (actually, copy) letters to editors in support of the Gang of Six's deficit deal . (The "gang" is composed of Mark Warner, Kent Conrad, Dick Durbin, Saxby Chambliss, Mike Crapo and Tom Coburn.)

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Like my fellow Americans, I am deeply concerned about our nation's financial future. Our country will face a fiscal catastrophe if Washington can't address our crushing debt.

Fortunately, some in Congress understand the urgency. For months, a bipartisan group of Senators known as the "Gang of Six" have been working together to produce a comprehensive plan to address the ballooning deficit. Their approach has earned the backing of No Labels, a new political group encouraging bipartisan problem-solving. The Gang of Six could issue their proposal as soon as next week, but already some on the left and right have begun their attacks.

As Congress weighs its next move in the weeks ahead, we need our leaders to demonstrate real courage and exercise political restraint. Let's hope our representatives give the Gang of Six a fair hearing. If not, we risk more hyper-partisan gridlock, which we can't afford.

Problem: We don't actually know what the Gang of Six is working on, what their plans are, and what they want to reform. All we know is that it's bipartisan. Would a centrist group be using its time and resources promoting some policy or legislation, rather than the ideal of bipartisanship?

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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