Bloomberg Headlines Launch of 'No Labels' Group for Independents

Monday, December 13, 2010

Be sure to tune in to the Brian Lehrer Show today at 11:40 to discuss No Labels, and then join an online chat at Noon to help build a Moderate's Manifesto»»

No Labels, but a lot of bold-faced names. Stars from politics and punditry will be at the Monday launch of a new independent group that's looking to seize the center of the national political debate.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is capping off several days of national media appearances by headlining the kick-off. Also on the schedule are Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Evan Bayh of Indiana, New York Times columnist David Brooks and MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough. About 1,000 activists from all 50 states make up the audience.

No Labels' stated mission is to get over party labels, push past ideological gridlock and "solve problems," an echo to Bloomberg's calls for "common sense solutions."

On Meet the Press on Sunday, Mayor Bloomberg continued to adamantly deny any plans for 2012. "I want to go out being, having a reputation as a very good, maybe the greatest mayor ever," he said.

The No Labels group, on the other hand, is gunning straight for the next presidential election. Also scheduled to attend the launch: the College Republicans and Democrats from Iowa and New Hampshire.

Live video from the No Labels Conference


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Comments [43]

mike from brooklyn

the chicken crossed the road to the middle and nothing happened

Dec. 13 2010 02:03 PM
steve from NY, NY

Here is the real American middle.

A poll done by Selzer & Company for Bloomberg News, 12/4-7.

For Jobs and also for taxing the rich.

Don't care nearly as much about cutting federal spending (even though that is the focus of D.C. amd so-called centrists)!

Which of the following do you see as the most important issue facing the country right now?

50 Unemployment and jobs
25 The federal deficit and government spending
9 Health care
7 The war in Afghanistan
5 Immigration
1 Other (VOL) (specify:)
3 Not sure

Do you think now is the time for bold and fast change to bring down the federal deficit, even if it means more sacrifice for more people, or is it more important to minimize sacrifices for the American people?

40 Bold and fast change
51 More important to minimize sacrifice
9 Not sure

In its poll, Bloomberg asked respondents whether they supported or opposed specific proposals to reduce the deficit.

Non-defense discretionary spending freeze: 43% support, 53% oppose
Cut defense spending - 45% support, 51% oppose
Reduce Medicare benefits: 15% support, 82% oppose
Reduce Medicaid benefits: 26% support, 72% oppose
Lift payroll tax cap: 51% support, 38% oppose
Reduce COLA: 31% support, 65% oppose
Create 6.5% national sales tax: 46% support, 49% oppose
Slowly raise SS retirement age to 69: 37% support, 60% oppose
End tax cuts for wealthy: 59% support, 38% oppose
SS means testing: 67% support, 27% oppose
Impose tax on Wall Street profits: 70% support, 24% oppose

The thing to notice here is that the only measures with widespread support were the ones that asked the wealthy to pay more -- and the Wall Street profits tax idea was off-the-charts.

Now I can already hear Very Serious People saying that it would be class warfare for a politician to embrace these preferences, but that's absurd. The fact is that over the several decades, wealthy Americans have done fantastically well, but other than during the Clinton years, the middle-class has stagnated. Under Bush, middle-class Americans actually saw their incomes decline -- despite his tax cuts. So when Americans say raise taxes on the rich, they're really just responding to the fact that that's where the money is. It's not warfare, it's just reality.

In other notable findings from the poll:

55% favor repeal of the health care law
74% want comprehensive immigration reform
58% want to extend unemployment benefits for 99ers.
71% believe TARP recipients should be banned from giving out big bonuses this year. Another 17% favor a one-time 50% tax on such bonuses.
Another interesting finding: although most Americans oppose Social Security cuts, if they were to be imposed, 49% support applying the cuts immediately while 41% say they should not apply to current beneficiaries. About half of that 41% also believe the cuts shouldn't apply to anyone who will soon become a beneficiary.

Dec. 13 2010 02:02 PM

Question: How many moderates does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Answer: None - if you want to screw someone, you need a Republican...

Dec. 13 2010 12:05 PM
John from Brooklyn

No labels? I'm perfectly happy to label
Bloomy. He represents the entrenched
elite who should frankly be alarmed by the rhetoric of the well armed Tea party activists on the right to the anger of the Move On crowd on the left. People are waking up to the fact that game is rigged and are angry and now Bloomy wants to call a "Time Out".
The chicken eventually comes home to roost.

Dec. 13 2010 11:48 AM
amalgam from Manhattan by day, NJ by night

Speaking of conservatives and the possibility of a moderate stance on the environment, particularly on the "energy issue" (as Rep. Engliss stated in the 12/13 show):

What conservatives have shown readily and constantly with regards to the environment and our energy future is that most are fundamentally uneasy or skeptical on the SCIENCE and scientific understanding of most matters, which is the starting point for any discussion or solution moving forward.

If an entire voting/cultural bloc (American Conservative) refuses what is commonly established and held through scientific observation and the scientific method, then it is very difficult to even broach environmental topics. These are not opinions, but the physical, chemical, etc. manifestations of the concrete world (universe) and the underpinnings of our society.

It is also true that virtually every partisan and political party around the world agree with mainstream science, with the debates reserved for possible solutions, not the well-founded, historically proven scientific process. Regardless of any segment of the American populace's distrust of science, those views - as espoused by American Conservatives - are outliers, pure and simple.

Dec. 13 2010 11:47 AM
artista from greenpoint

this is the dumbest, most absolutely IDEOLOGICAL segment I have heard since the last time the Republicans tried this nonsense, during another Democratic regime, Clinton's.
Calling neoliberalism 'pragmatism' is a hoot. The English Lib Dems are a cautionary tale: you can promise a 3rd way (yes I know that was New Labour) all you want, but when you get into government, you capitulate to the RIGHT.
"No Labels" or whatever this sad thing is called is snake oil for the politically naive.
"Can't we all get along?" misses the heart of politics, which is contention.

Dec. 13 2010 11:46 AM
Chris from Amityville

The Republic-rats seem to put partisanship aside when it's time to vote for something evil. Like the present S 510 food bill to give the FDA power to destroy small framers and health supplement providers:
They also got together for the bank bailout, the
Patriot Act, the Iraq War, and to ratify illegal FBI wiretapping.

Dec. 13 2010 11:43 AM

What about the media? Didn't this era of extreme partisanship begin with Rush Limbaugh and rise of right wing talk/hate radio. And now it extends to the entire Fox media empire. All the other political shows thrive on the right left divide. So the entire discourse is corrupted by this extreme partisanship. If this isn't changed I don't see how anything else will change.

Dec. 13 2010 11:42 AM
Scott from Lower Manhattan

Is No Labels considering pushing for adoption of pairwise-ranked voting? Such a move would remove the threat of a primary challenge by allowing those who lose a primary to run in the general election anyway without affecting how the party's nominee does against the opposing party.

Dec. 13 2010 11:36 AM

My moderate joke: What well known Republican politician from the 70's is more liberal than than any moderate today: Answer: Richard Nixon

Dec. 13 2010 11:29 AM

Thanks for proving my point, Sestak.

Now how's about we all hold hands and sing Kumbaya?

Dec. 13 2010 11:23 AM

there's only 2 parties in this country

not that hard. do u love your neighbor OR do u want a buyer-beware nation and so u can be buried with tons of cash

Dec. 13 2010 11:22 AM

A friend of mine is a congressmen. He refers to Congress as a "jail", and the parties as "prison gangs" who roam the halls enforcing their gang policies and punishing those who reach across the aisle.

The party system has hijacked the will of the people- the system of committees and chairs and rules disenfranchise a freshman congressman's vote. One state can torpedo the will of the rest of the nation.

Rules reform must be part of any proposal.

Dec. 13 2010 11:20 AM
Amy from Manhattan

For "moderate" jokes, I found 2 buttons about moderates:

"It gets real lonely as a moderate activist, standing alone with a sign that reads, 'Reasonable informed discussion of the issues as soon as feasible'"*

"In politics, everyone regards themselves as a moderate because they know some other sumbitch who's twice as crazy as they are"

*And Brian, as I said some years ago, on your show it *is* feasible!

Dec. 13 2010 11:19 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

I am turning off the radio. Going to “ On Point” on my pod cast. Tired of Brian’s “Centrist” stuff and then he brings on a Republican Rightist.

Dec. 13 2010 11:16 AM

More clowns in the car.

Dec. 13 2010 11:16 AM
Amy from Manhattan

"They're not the enemy, they're just wrong?" How about starting with replacing "They're wrong" w/"I disagree w/them"? And yes, I mean that for both sides.

Dec. 13 2010 11:15 AM
Jeff Pappas from Ct.

Perhaps the Blues Brothers sum it up best with the "Wish Sandwich " Two pieces of bread missing a middle ( ie Meat, Substance )

Dec. 13 2010 11:13 AM
Mike from Norwalk, CT

It's obvious that the Left is willing to compromise much more than the Right. I don't believe this will change anytime soon. All this will do is continue moving our entire political spectrum to the right. When a strong Right emerges such as the Tea Party, there has to be an opposition to keep a balance! There is a time and place for moderate politics; here and now is not it!

Dec. 13 2010 11:11 AM
Ken from Little Neck

Here's my admittedly cynical take - as a liberal, I hope this movement takes off because it will allow the Democrats to move back to the left if all the moderate republicans have somewhere else to go. I feel like many of the problems that Democrats have had in the last few years stem from the fact that it's really two parties, the traditional liberal wing that used to be the core of the Democratic party, and lots of moderates and center right people who were driven out by the extremists who have hijacked the Republicans over the last twenty years.

Dec. 13 2010 11:11 AM
Susan from NYC

Napoleon Bonaparte Bloomberg doesn't believe in "no labels," he believes in "no elections." If you're rich enough, you should just be allowed to contravene the law and set up a plutocracy.

Dec. 13 2010 11:10 AM
Gaetano Catelli from Oxford, Mississippi

re: "Of course David Brooks isn't the most *conservative* 'conservative' in the world ..."

That's why centrist liberals are willing to take seriously what he has to say. (He has explicity stated on the News Hour that he is looking for "converts" -- instead of just tossing verbal hand grenades.)

And, PBS and NPR, intentionally or unintentionally, are advancing a serious consideration of a counternarrative to cliche'd leftish thinking by affording him 5 minutes (per week!) of airtime.

Dec. 13 2010 11:07 AM
Muriel from New York CIty

FIrst Moderates need to re conceive the entire political process and governing process and distinctly separate the two. Tools to use in governance might be to employ consensus instead of compromise. With consensus all sides of the issue participate in the solution and no one is left out. There are techniques for this process of problem solving but they require leaving egos and agendas at the door. For both governance and political races Moderates might include a broad policy of open access to all information for all Americans, open access to participation at all levels of problem solving creating a true government of the people, by the people and for the people. We have the technology to do this now how about a Moderates Facebook for political participation with real response to the peoples participation. If we all feel heard we are less likely to gripe. And finally for the political process how about a pledge to run for office solely on issues and substance and a broad refusal to engage in discussion of any opponents short comings. I am tired of hearing anyone defined by someone else, let the candidate speak for themselves, if they can't then votes will reflect it.

Dec. 13 2010 11:06 AM
Ed Jankiewicz from Flemington NJ

How many moderates does it take to change a light bulb?

None. The moderate approach will promote the movement towards more efficient light bulbs through the imposition of a "harm charge" to the use of fossil fuels, to recognize the real costs for the environmental impact of these resources. This incentive will lead to...

on the other hand, the difficulty of reducing complex reasoned arguments into sound-bites probably makes it very difficult for the moderate movement to have much of an impact on the political debate. Sadly, the extremes are much better at reducing their positions to bumper stickers and getting noticed.

Dec. 13 2010 11:05 AM
steve from New York, NY

If we are to believe that this not just the plutocratic corporate agenda without the social right stuff (tax cuts for corporate and wealthy; de-regulation), then let us get specific:

What is their policy to reverse the income and wealth inequality?

What is their tax reform program and is it for more progressive rates or more flat rates? One can have tax simplification and fairness, but it needs to go with more progressivity, not less (flattening).

What is their policy on need for commonweal infrastructure development?

What is their policy on minum wage? On earned income tax credit?

What is their policy on labor rights and organizing?

What specific government program would they cut, and how much $ does it really add up to?

What is their position on universal health care coverage, and what specific policies would they support?

What is their position on global warming and what specific government actions would they support?

Dec. 13 2010 11:03 AM
sara k. from 11205

Not exactly a joke, but the Futurama episode called "The Neutral Planet" is full of moderate humor:

Neutral President's Aide: Should we trust him, Your Neutralness?
Neutral President: All I know is my gut says maybe.

Zapp: I hate these filthy Neutrals, Kif. With enemies you know where they stand but with Neutrals, who knows? It sickens me


Neutral President: If I don't survive, tell my wife, "Hello".

Dec. 13 2010 10:59 AM
jacob from Brooklyn

I have always believed that democratic(emphasis on the small d) politics is about partisanship on behalf of ideas and causes (not party).

In my lifetime the conversation in the US has shifted further and further to the political right. How many of these "centerists " are old Republicans that have felt alienated by the party being taken over by religious fundamentalists and assorted far right ideologues.

Everyone is "ideological" based on a wide variety of cultural and sociological reasons. The idea that one can put aside "ideology" is very ideological in and of itself.

If it were up to "centerists" Jim Crow segregation would never have ended, the 40 working week would never have been instituted, and so on.

Dec. 13 2010 10:58 AM
jawbone from Parsippany

From 60 Minutes' interview with John Boehner last night:

STAHL: But governing means compromising.

BOEHNER: It means working together.

STAHL: It also means compromising.

BOEHNER: It means finding common ground.

STAHL: Okay, is that compromising?

BOEHNER: I made it clear I am not going to compromise on my principles, nor am I going to compromise the will of the American people.

Well, the approach the Republicans have been using is indeed that "compromise" means the Dems do what the Repubs want to do. And Obama would not call them on that or vary from precedent: Fold like a well-oiled lawn chair.

Dec. 13 2010 10:57 AM

Let's see if I got this right: a bunch of people formally agree in a press conference that partisan disagreement is a Bad Thing that's gone Too Far?

Sure... I see movement achieving great success: perhaps setting a Guinness Book world record for the greatest concentration of people for venting hot air, pandering to the masses, and doing nothing people (the current record is 435 representatives, 100 senators, 5 delegates, and 1 resident commissioner).

Dec. 13 2010 10:56 AM
Gaetano Catelli from Oxford, Mississippi

The Founders were all too aware that partisanship (rather than, say, military defeat or debt) is what had extinguished history's previous republics.

Unfortunately, once Washington stepped down as president, there was no longer bi-partisan agreement about very much of importance. Thus, the rise of political parties (eg, federalists vs states rights, etc).

On a personal, i have rarely encountered anyone who shares my passion for the issues who isn't much further from the center of the spectrum than i am.

It seems that most centrists lack the "passion" required to bring about (or, alternatively to block) change.

Dec. 13 2010 10:56 AM
Jeff Pappas from Ct

A Republican walks into the Bar he owns and tells the Democrat bar tender that he should stop listening to people at the bar and push higher priced drinks, while a Moderate is at home smoking a joint because it makes him feel better about not having a voice !

Dec. 13 2010 10:55 AM

Bloomberg, DLC/Clinton, Lieberman.

Where are the "moderates?"

Those supporters listed on their websites seem to be RW and/or a "center-right" that's more conservative than Nixon & Dirksen.

Where are the independents like Bernie Sanders who served the interests the people so magnificently last Friday.

Dec. 13 2010 10:55 AM

I think the no labels idea is good. I think one of the reasons the Chinese are so effective at solving problems is that as a one party state is effectively makes it a "no party state" , in that if everyone is the in the same party then your ideas have to rise or fall based on their quality not which party is bankrolling your election fund. (of course the fact that ppl like Rush Limbaugh are effectively illegal in China also helps). So yeah, without parties people actually have to look at the issues rather than just say vote the party line and assume something good will happen.

Of course I'm pretty suspicious of this as some Bloomberg For Pres astroturfing...but that's not entirely a bad thing since he would make a pretty intriguing candidate compared to anybody else who might run in '12.

Dec. 13 2010 10:54 AM

Dems and Repubs have problems. Over-articulation of their souls is not one of them.

Personally I would find labels, attached to ideology, rather welcome and refreshing.

Dec. 13 2010 10:52 AM
bernie from bklyn

first of all, isn't "moderate" a label?
and people like bloomberg and crist are label- free only in the fact that they do whatever is convenient for them at the time.
also, it's easy for bloomberg to be "moderate" when he doesn't have to be a slave to the corporate world to get elected.
politicians chase the money and that's it. doesn't matter what side they're on. wake up people, please realize this. working people in this country will never have any advocates until we overthrow this system and change everything about it, starting with the supreme court.

Dec. 13 2010 10:51 AM
Siggy from Westchester

Think radical, act moderate.

Dec. 13 2010 10:51 AM
Don from Smithtown

Here's the problem: partisanship is defined by having two sides, and two sides require partisanship. Now, when there were moderates, (relative) liberals, and (relative) conservatives in both parties, there were more than two sides, no matter what they called themselves.

So either we need more parties (which I'd like) or more political diversity within each party (which I'd accept). Until then, it's a zero-sum game.

Dec. 13 2010 10:51 AM
Ed from Brooklyn

This would be a better idea if it weren't for the fact that the "middle" is somewhere right of the Nixon Administration.

And was Senator Sanders invited? He too is an "Independent".

Dec. 13 2010 10:47 AM
lennief from Manahattan

A Republican, Democrat and an Independent convivialy walk into a bar together.
The apocalypse occurs.

Dec. 13 2010 10:28 AM
Steve Dutton from Upper West Side

A Republican, a Democrat and a Moderate walk into a bar. The Republican starts yelling “The price of drinks need to be lowered to get more customers to spend money here to stimulate the economy!” and grabs one arm of the bartender, to have him write new prices in the menu. The Democrat, after he is out of arm’s length of the Republican, with an air of aloofness, states “You have to take this money we just printed so you can give away 25% of your drinks to people who can’t afford it.” And grabs the bartender’s other hand and shoves a pile of money into his hand.
The moderate, who never got to say anything, mutters to himself “I just came in to get change for the parking meter so I could go to my job interview, but now, because of you two blowhards, I am not only going to miss my chance to get a job, but you just cost me a ticket. “

Dec. 13 2010 10:22 AM
Eric K from Brooklyn

Why is it considered a given that an independent must be a thoughtful, rational intellectual voter superior to partisans? American elections show that many people who like to call themselves independents don't act rational. They switch back and forth, easily persuaded by whoever shouts loudest, and based on their mood swings. That is not the sign of a group of voters who are "above it all". If anything they are the worst.

The speakers at this meeting do not reflect the voters they think they are speaking to.

Dec. 13 2010 10:18 AM
interesting from new york, ny

sounds like someone is running for president...

Dec. 13 2010 08:33 AM
Daryl from Bronx

Let's see if this works!!! How about it's about America!!! The end of day, do we want the best country? When Companies take jobs out of the country it's not because of political parties!!!! We need to have a real conversation, about attitudes!! How we feel about each other!!! These results have great affect on how we live,govern,and work!!!

Dec. 13 2010 07:50 AM

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