A No Labels plea
December 13th, 2011
05:28 PM ET
11 years ago

A No Labels plea

(CNN) - Start with "No Budget, No Pay!" That's the first recommendation of a group looking to get Congress to be more productive and collegial.

It means if Capitol Hill legislators cannot work out a complete budget on time - something that has not been done in years - they should not get paid. That radical notion is the first of a dozen suggestions from No Labels, a bipartisan grassroots organization started a year ago.

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On Tuesday, those recommendations were delivered to Congress inside the Cannon House Office Building's Caucus Room, where wheeling and dealing among members is often the order.

Other ideas: make "filibusters" real, by requiring someone to actually hold forth on the Senate floor, instead of just requiring 60 votes as is now the stall-inducing norm; monthly bipartisan gatherings, and taking a page out of Canadian and British parliaments by having the president up for questions, regularly.

Oh, and require members to only pledge allegiance to the flag; and not allow them to take any other pledges, such as Americans for Tax Reform's "No new taxes" promise.

"The vast majority of Americans think the political parties should be working together in Washington," Mark McKinnon, one of No Labels founders, said. Famed as an advertising and message guru for both of George W. Bush's presidential bids, McKinnon has also worked for Democrats over the years.

"We've got huge challenges and we're just trying to create a voice for the middle of America with No Labels," McKinnon added. This is not an attempt to create a third, moderate party, but to get Democrats and Republicans off their far-end-of-the-spectrum positions, McKinnon told CNN Radio.

While belonging to a party is not a bad thing in McKinnon's eyes, No Labels is an effort to get beyond the standard positions of Democrats and Republicans. The label conservative or liberal is what he'd like to banish, figuratively, so compromise is possible.

A couple hundred supporters of the idea were on hand in the caucus room. Legislators included Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, and former Democratic Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana. A few Republican moderates back No Labels, including former Delaware Sen. Mike Castle.

The expectation of the group is that tens of thousands of Americans, frustrated at constant gridlock, will groundswell No Labels into a major movement that candidates will not be able to ignore next year.

Almost Contract with America-like, the group's goal they say is to implement many of the suggestions via rules changes that do not require legislation, just a certain amount of will.

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soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Larry L

    Let's do it! Delivering a workable budget is their primary duty and they continue to fail. The obstacle is the Republican's constant effort to protect the ultra-wealthy at any cost. We will repay them for this political terrorism in the 2012 election!

    December 13, 2011 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  2. J.V.Hodgson

    Great idea.How about letting democracy work as well by having up down voting by demanding that amendments to bills must relate context and subject wise to the Bill presented and simple rules that ban 100% repeal efforts directly or indirectly, by having said items removed and voted on as a separate bills in House and Senate.
    So on the payroll tax bill Obama presented. Adding in the oil pipeline would automatically be a separate bill and the CBO says it creates 4-8000 only temporary jobs in USA. The rest of how Republicans house passed bill is paid for Is totally a cost to the middle class and ultimately 200, 000 government jobs lost. Middle ckass tax benefit paid foe by middle class! Err now how did Millionaires pay for thier tax cuts?
    I want republicans all to take the Norquist pledge punch a hole in the top left corner and hang it where it belongs?
    = the smallest room. Use as soon as possible to clean up politics just a bit.

    December 14, 2011 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  3. Jules

    I like the idea, but fear that it is like little kids soccer games where they don't keep score or standings – everybody still knows who won the game and how many games they won. It won't work.

    December 14, 2011 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
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