The Hill: Alexander warns Dems against 'excesses of progressivism'

Posted on December 3, 2010

Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) on Friday called on Democratic congressional leaders to move to the political center and reverse a two-year record marked by the “excesses of progressivism.”

Alexander used a keynote speech at the Hudson Institute to lay out a strategic vision for the 112th Congress, which will have 95 new GOP members, including six new senators. 

The Tennessee Republican described the 2010 election as a “recurring outburst” similar to 1994, when the GOP last took over Congress, and said GOP leaders need to be more disciplined to “keep our eye on the goals that matter most.”

“Fifteen years ago Republicans captured control of Congress during one of those recurring outbursts when American voters announced that they wanted less of Washington, and more freedom for themselves,” Alexander said. “That advice was not well-heeded, and now we find ourselves the political beneficiaries of another such outburst and an opportunity to lay the groundwork to be a governing party within two years.”

Specifically, Alexander said Republicans should focus on promoting the private sector, reducing spending and confronting terrorism. He also called for preservation of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts; repeal of this year’s healthcare reform law; rejection of the proposed card-check law for union elections; reduced capital gains taxes; repeal of the new consumer protection agency, and expanded promotion of nuclear power.

Alexander’s wish list has little chance of becoming reality in the near-term, since Democrats still control the Senate and the White House. However, with the upper chamber split 53-47 starting in January, there will likely be more centrist legislation moving forward.

Indeed, Alexander said the 111th Congress was marked more by excessive liberalism than most voters will tolerate, resulting in the November election results. At one point, Alexander remarked, he considered hanging photographs of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) in the Senate Republican cloakroom.

“They symbolize what the federal government has done wrong during the last two years — not just to head in the wrong direction, but to try to go there all at once,” he said.

“We now have enough clout to suggest alternative approaches for the most urgent problems of the day. In fact, we have an obligation to do so if we want to be able to persuade independent voters as well as Republicans that we ought to be the governing party in America after 2012.”