What's Brian Baird up to?

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

"I told people we would screw it up," Baird said of the Democrats. "You should never underestimate the power of liberals to shoot themselves in the foot."

Congressman Brian Baird is a Democrat who is leaving his congressional seat to a Republican successor - after declining to run for re-election in Washington's 3rd. Curiously, it seems that he's moving into Washington's 1st, where Congressman Jay Inslee is expected to run for Governor in 2012.

From the McClatchy Newspapers:

Baird has roughly $450,000 in his campaign account. He can't keep it personally, but can donate it to charity or other campaigns. There's one other alternative.

"I could use it for another race," said Baird.

Baird is moving to Edmonds, Wash., in the 1st Congressional District north and east of Lake Washington currently represented by Democratic Rep. Jay Inslee. If Inslee were to run for governor in 2012 as many expect, the congressional seat would be open.

The 1st Congressional District would be a more comfortable fit politically for Baird. He's represented the 3rd Congressional District in southwest Washington. Baird said the 3rd District has become increasingly conservative as Californians fleeing high taxes and illegal immigrants settle especially in Clark County. "Democrats always wanted to know why I wasn't more liberal," he said. "The district is getting tougher and the party doesn't understand it."

Baird is firing shots at the Democratic leadership on his way out the door - declaring that his strategy would have led to Democratic wins in 2010:

Baird, who read both the House and Senate health care bills during his weekly flights back to the state, said Democrats should have focused on containing the rising health care costs of the 250 million people who have insurance rather than providing coverage for the 50 million who don't have and don't vote.

"It wasn't a winner politically," he said, adding that he would have preferred an incremental approach. "We needed to do it in bite-sized chunks. We needed to start small and force Republicans to vote against (barring insurance companies from refusing coverage for) pre-existing conditions." ...

When the Bush administration needed votes to save the financial system with its Troubled Asset Relief Program, Baird and others Democrats supported it fearing inaction would lead to a wider economic collapse. If the Democrats had really wanted to play politics, they could have voted no and forced the Republicans to pass the measure on their own, Baird said.

"It could have been their Waterloo," he said. "We would still be in the majority today. Now we are paying the price."

And the capper:

Baird said he doesn't expect the Democrats to regain control of Congress for a decade, as Republicans will get credit for an economic recovery they had little to do with.

"I told people we would screw it up," Baird said of the Democrats. "You should never underestimate the power of liberals to shoot themselves in the foot."

Hard to imagine that he's going to get much support from either grassroots or national Democrats if he decides to run for Inslee's seat.

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    A man of real principle. Ignore the 50 million(now 60) who are without health insurance coverage. Ignore the 45 thousand who die each year from lack of health insurance coverage. (Harvard Med. School) Good riddance!

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    People w/o health coverage don't vote? That's news to my GF.

    And making the GOP pass TARP on their own? How? D's had congress so TARP needed some D votes to pass.

    What an ass.....

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    He has been a loose cannon for years. His views on the war in Iraq made no sense. If he was just pandering to the conservatives in his district he sure fooled me. We do not need him back in Congress, especially from a district that could elect a real progressive.

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    Containing rising health care costs was Obama's first priority also, until he abandoned that primary goal.

    Baird is a smart, independent, moderate Democrat. One might think the wash of the recent election would make people wonder if he isn't onto a point or two.

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      He is a Democrat Republicans love. That's why he has no love from Democrats here.

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        That's just too glib. Translates to me as: not a party hack.

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          Translates to me as, supported the Bush war on Iraq long after almost all other Dems could see they had been duped. Was he just slow, or playing political calculus in hopes he wouldn't get Swift-boated?

          Translates to me as, pick-and-choose "reform" makes it look as if we're doing something when really we're not. The GOP likes it, so I will too!

          Translates to me as, "the 40+ million uninsured don't contribute to campaigns as much as the insurance companies, so where's the political upside?"

          The only people in Clark County "fleeing high taxes and illegal immigrants" (GOP talking point if I ever heard one) are either idiots who still believe Ronald Reagan's lies (despite 30 years of proof that they ARE lies), or are in the top 2% of incomes who say, "Works for us--screw you!" Yes, Brian, they donate heavily to Republicans, but that doesn't mean you have to act and vote like one to get elected--you just have to prove you give a gosh-darned about the other 98% of us!

          Good riddance, I say. These reality-challenged tea-baggers like the one that snagged his seat will either be co-opted by the GOP mainstream "play-to-get-paid" crowd or be dumped on their absurdist behinds in 2012--preferably both.

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            He was in rare original opposition to the war. Years later at a different point he supported the surge.

            Talking point much?

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              Lack of principled stand (or common sense) much?

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                I disagree. I think Baird has been brave enough to take principled unpopular stands. Who is your idea of "principled" -- Pelosi? There's your tea party support right there.

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                  He shows a consistent lack of principal by trying to court Republicans in his district by "standing up" to the "librls" in the Democratic Party. Like the Blue Dogs who lost, try to be more Republican than Republicans (or trying the "Socially Liberal/Otherwise Reactionary" tightrope act) never works. Like Truman said, people will vote for the real Republican over the pretend one every time.

                  A true progressive who can motivate the working and middle class people of Clark County to vote will wipe away all traces of faux-teabagger populism. And if Nancy had not tied one hand behind her back, she's still be Speaker instead of minority leader. In two years, I have little doubt she will be again.

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                    Maybe he doesn't want to be a "progressive." That word has no intrinsic political meaning. Maybe he doesn't buy into the code.

                    Brian Baird was my representative when I lived in Lewis County and I liked him. An aisle-crosser is not a wannabe Republican. He's good on natural resources issues, too.

                    Socially liberal/fiscally conservative is a wide swath of independents, including myself.

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                      "Socially liberal/fiscally conservative" is a pretend talking-point. Supporting wars without supporting tax increases to pay for them is neither, and that's just one example. It's a way for people to vote (or support) Republicans without losing sleep at night that they are in bed with the Religious Right. (Even though they are.)

                      It's not "bi-partisan" when only one side is expected to do it. It's a sham.

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                        Excuse me, sir, I've been "socially liberal/fiscally conservative" for longer than it was anyone's talking point. There's nothing pretend about it. I support nothing without the plan in place to pay for it, be it unfunded mandates, unfunded wars or debt shifted to future generations. I don't offload what I want or consider valid public policy to some other group to pay, either.

                        I think you're wrong about Brian Baird as well.

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                          So, do you support letting the Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest 2% expire, or letting all of them expire? Do you want to cut defense spending by 20% per year or 50% per year? Since Social Security does not, in fact, have anything to do with the deficit or the debt, do you agree it should have no place in any debt reduction plan?

                          Those are all "fiscally conservative" positions. Except hardly any politicians who run for office claiming to be "fiscally conservative" support them. Unless they're Democrats.

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                            Cutting military spending is a non-starter. I opposed the Bush tax cuts originally. Nothing happens in a vaccum. I would at lease the top 2%, other things equal. Continuing viability of Social Security should not depend on raising this very high (15+%) and regressive tax any further.

                            I would advocate eliminating subsidies for most agriculture, including ethanol which seems largely a boondoggle, one I fear will be followed with most so-called green technology.

                            I despise Sarah Palin and Nancy Pelosi. How's that for socially liberal/fiscally conservative?

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                              "Cutting military spending is a non-starter."

                              Then you cannot legitimately claim to be "fiscally conservative."


                              Since Social Security (and Medicare) are essentially self-funded (in other words, they have their own dedicated tax revenue sources), Defense is all there is, really (18.74%). Farm subsidies? The entire Department of Agriculture makes up a whopping 0.73% of the Federal budget.

                              Oh, and the only reason the Social Security tax is "regressive" is because of the income cap--raise the cap, and not only does it become a true "flat tax," you also solve, in one stroke, the supposed Social Security "crisis."

                              Cutting the obscene corporate welfare that goes to the military-industrial complex and returning our tax structure to what it was when the middle-class was thriving. Without those, any claims to being fiscal conservative simply don't add up.

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                                You don't get to tell me what does or doesn't pass for "fiscally conservative."

                                It is with no happiness that I say that cutting military spending is a non-starter; it is merely resignation.

                                I agree with you about the cap on social security taxes. But it puzzles me that is so rarely if ever mentioned that as a payroll tax it is effectively 15+%, not 7-something, taxes subject to no refund or rebate, and that have increased almost exponentially in the last 30 years.

                                You can't but wonder (or I can't) if people became cognizant of what they were actually paying if there would be some greater questioning of it, at the least. Because supporting more and more retired people, who live longer and longer, at the expense of proportionately fewer working people becomes at some point rather untenable.

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                                  a) The numbers prove it is not "untenable."

                                  b) The principal that those who are young(er) and working support those who are old(er) or disabled and not working is as old as humanity. Only, before Social Security, if you didn't have children or other family who could take care of you, you were s**t outta luck. Social Security simply spreads it around so that having no (or poor) children doesn't mean you have to live your last years in squalor and poverty.

                                  c) I "get" to have an opinion on what does or doesn't pass for "fiscally conservative," whether you agree with it our not! And accepting that we have to cut programs that help people because you have given up the battle against the military-industrial-corporate complex is, in my opinion, about as un-"fiscally conservative" as you can get. Now, I get that you identify strongly with this idea, and I'm not trying to belittle it. But so many politicians call themselves "fiscally conservative" only as a cover-up for what they really are: out to enrich themselves and their corporate friends at everyone else's expense. Every single person who vote "Yes" on the Bush tax cuts would call themselves "fiscally conservative." And those same politicians also voted yes on Bush's unfunded wars. So, unless you really want to fight their hypocrisy to reclaim that term, you might want to find another one to identify with (in my opinion, of course!).

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                                    "The principal that those who are young(er) and working support those who are old(er) or disabled and not working is as old as humanity."

                                    Yes. But in the past, the old(er) unworking did not live so long and therefore rely so long on a young(er) generation, still employed (and as you Blue Oregonians are fond of noting, at relatively lesser income levels. This issue to my mind has to stay in flux to accomodate new realities. I don't see that 20 or 25-year retirements at other people's expense is realistic, "fair," or doable. Important point here: the "progressive" community should stop looking past the burden it is heaving on lower working class people to subsidize long retirements for people who no longer fit a definition of "old."

                                    I cannot give up the term "fiscally conservative" if or because it has been co-opted by self-servers. I'm the same way in my own life.

                                    Your figures on agribusiness subsidies, assuming they're accurate, are discouraging. How about throwing Oregon liquor sales to the private sector? Would that result in a similar (miniscule) savings? (I still think it ought to be done.)

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                                      Life expectancies are longer because it is now no longer up to an accident of birth (or death) as to whether or not someone has a younger generation to take care of them. People live longer after retirement because almost none of them die without basic necessities or health care any longer. In my book, that's a good thing.

                                      Raise or remove the cap on earnings subject to FICA and the problem goes away. Not for a little while, but basically forever.

                                      This illustrates the situation pretty well:


                                      The only reason we aren't fixing it this way is that the top 1% doesn't want to pay the same as the rest of us, and they have a disproportionate influence on our government. It has nothing to do with people living longer or fiscal conservatism.

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                                        You might be right.

                                        Interesting chart, but I'm not sold on the predictions of rising incomes.

                                        A political and social compact can be made to work X years and retire for Y years at whatever level people can, and want to, support. Pushing retirement out to 67 doesn't seem unreasonable to me, but it was within my lifetime that 67 was a common age of death rather than the early part of what for many people is now a long retirement.

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              Sally, he is a non Kool-Atd drinking democrat; anethma to blue oregonians. Look for him to run in Edmonds in 2010 as an independent.

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      Yeah, all of the Blue Dogs were defeated, and this idiot just quit, knowing he would be defeated. You Repubs love Dems like Baird, they don't last long, they don't believe in anything and they sabotage the Dem. message.

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    Baird was definitely not a party hack- he navigated according to his own lights.

    I appreciated Baird taking a more pro-Palestinian approach than just about anyone else in Congress. Seems to me that occupation and theft of land, in violation of law, is a serious matter. But, hey- I'm a sentimentalist about the international law!

    I'm sure the GOP (all of them) and Dems (about 95% of them) think the idea of Israel being forced to adhere to law is quaint.

    And I think Baird's way is the way to defuse a lot of the anti-West sentiment that radical Islamists hold.

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    I would note for the record that Inslee had also moved into that district to run. Inslee won a central WA seat (4th CD) in 1992 and promptly lost it to Doc Hastings in 94. He then moved to the 1st CD and ran in 1998. (after a failed run for Governor in 1996).

    This would be a strange legacy for that district. "The First District of Second Chances"

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    Maybe in the Washington open primary system he can sell himself to enough Republicans to get into the general elections in the new district.

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    I find myself in one of those dilemmas where I agree with points made by somebody I'm not especially comfortable agreeing with.

    When Baird says we should have started small and forced the Republicans to vote against popular moves, I think he has a point. My "small" would have been larger (I believe that massive and effective change could have been accomplished if the administration had simply based their health care reform on making Medicare available to everyone over 50 and people of any age who had been denied coverage on the basis of a prior condition) but it would still have forced the Republicans to vote against known commodities rather than grand and sweeping policies open to distortion and disinformation.

    That said, I'm not spending a lot of time grieving that Mr. Baird is returned to private life.

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      Larry, you make too much sense. A Medicare for tose denied coverage would have made too much common sense and would have done nothing to disrupt the inosrance coverage that 80% of U.S. families already have. It would also not punish health insurance companies. what are you thinking man; that HCR was actually supposed to be about enhanced coverage and lower costs?

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        Oh, sure. Send all the (sick) people the private companies can't profit on insuring to the public system. Nice plan for bankrupting Medicare!

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    "You should never underestimate the power of liberals to shoot themselves in the foot."

    Change "liberals" to "Democrats" and I'll concede his point. But I maintain that if the Democratic caucus as a whole had listened to their liberal wing (pushed for a real stimulus package big enough to create millions of construction jobs, not watered down health care reform, taken action on immigration reform and a tough energy/climate change policy, passed a middle-class tax cut while perhaps raising taxes on the wealthy and/or Wall Street) the party would have done a whole lot better at the polls a couple weeks ago.

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    Whether I agree with all of his votes or not, it's certainly refreshing to see a Democrat not afraid to put Republicans on defense, and to propose of passing good policy and doing it in a way that makes political sense.

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    So another lame duck Democrat criticizes the problem he helped create on the way out the door.

    Sounds a lot like Ted Kulongoski's City Club Bombshell which, while an accurate description of what his own party has done to the state, came too late to do anything about it.

    Baird deserves credit for breaking ranks and telling the truth about what his own party has done to the nation. He gets little respect from anyone for waiting so long to say it.

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