Recently, the Courier-Journal editorial page took a number of pointed attacks at me, misrepresenting me and my efforts to serve the people of the commonwealth of Kentucky. I have approached legislating with a sense of moderation that seems to be lost on my critics, and I would like to clear the air.
To be moderate is often held up as the paragon of modern political virtue. With apologies to the Bard, today’s narrative argues that: to be uncompromising is to err, to be moderate is divine. But what does it mean to be moderate in today’s parlance?
Contrary to the conventional “wisdom,” moderates are often the problem in Washington. Often these moderates represent what is wrong with both parties, not because of what they do or don’t believe it, but because of how they will tend to “compromise.”
Democrats champion expanded social welfare spending over defense spending. Republicans champion tax cuts and limited social spending and blank checks for the military.
Moderates support all of the spending. Instead of being moderate, these middle-of-the-roaders actually have embraced an extreme of fiscal irresponsibility by voting for the wish-list spending of both parties. By refusing to stand up to any spending, they have been the core of the problem in Washington.
So don’t believe what you hear from most talking heads: Bipartisanship and moderate influences are the defining characteristic of the Congresses and administrations that ran up our $15 trillion debt.
Does this mean we shouldn’t attempt to find compromise or attempt to reach across the aisle? Absolutely not. I do it more often than the liberal media would like to admit.
For example, I have worked with Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden (Ore.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.) and Tom Udall (N.M.) on issues such as speeding up the end of the Afghanistan war and in defeating encroachments on Internet freedom (SOPA).
I put a legislative hold on a pipeline regulation bill because it grandfathered in the old pipelines, precisely the pipelines that had led to fatal accidents. I took abuse in the media for this hold, abuse that no “moderate” would likely have withstood, but in the end Democratic Sens. Frank Lautenberg (N.J.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), and Barbara Boxer (Calif.) compromised with me to get rid of the exemption for older pipelines and within weeks the new testing detected a deadly weakness in a pipeline that had already killed eight people.