Mod Squad infiltrates U.S. Senate budget fight
Their mission is to handcuff some of the money President Barack Obama seeks in his budget request to Congress … deficit-spending that they fear will prey on future generations.
They are the “Mod Squad,” a group of about 15 Senate Democrats, some of them freshmen, whose tentative name reflects their moderate political leanings and is borrowed from a 1960s television drama.
“The purpose is not to be adversarial to the White House,” ringleader Ben Nelson of Nebraska told reporters on Thursday. Yes, it’s the very same Nelson who helped broker the compromise on the $787 billion economic stimulus bill.
But Nelson said many in the group are worried about the overall size of Obama’s budget — $3.55 trillion just for next year — and others fret about specific initiatives within the budget.
With Republicans already warning they could boycott the Democrats’ budget, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid just may have to pay attention to this group of moderate Democrats if he wants to get a budget passed this spring.
There’s plenty at stake: Obama’s budget proposal calls for significant expansions of environmental and education programs, establishing new accounts to expand health insurance to those who can’t afford it and to combat global warming, along with bringing U.S. combat troops out of Iraq.
“We don’t even have a name yet, or a mascot,” Nelson quipped. But when asked about possible names, he was quick to blurt out a possibility: “Mod Squad. I just threw that out.”
No details yet on specific programs the gang might want to arrest in the budget.
- Photo credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst (Senator Ben Nelson with reporters last month)