by John Dankosky – Senator Chris Dodd says he will vote for the tax cut plan, struck in a compromise between President Obama and Republicans. He said he strongly objects to some of the bill’s provisions, including an estate tax exemption for the wealthy. But Dodd said it’s a place where the parties can find middle ground.
In his farewell speech on the Senate floor, Dodd called for more “bipartisanship.” It’s a thought shared by many Americans, including a coalition of politicians and pundits called “No Labels” – which officially launched on Monday. It’s led by figures like New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman.
The group’s leaders say it won’t be a political party, but will call out politicians they say are too “partisan.” Dodd told WNPR’s Where We Live that he appreciates what the group is trying to do, but he has a fundemental disagreement with it’s premise. ”There’s nothing wrong with partisanship. Will people please get over that,” he said.
“People having strong views and strong passions…we have differences of opinion on how we ought to get our country moving in the right direction. That’s not the problem. The problem is that at the end of it, you need to figure out how to come to an answer. And you’re not going to get to an answer by starting in the middle. (Laughs) The middle only is produced when people who have strong views come to a resolution of their ideas.”
Dodd said one way to solve this problem is practical. Force lawmakers to spend more time together in Washington, getting to know one another. He says that “socialization” is what helps to form cooperation – even across party lines. His other idea, he says, is less likely to happen. ”And that is if on January 5th or 6th, the leadership of the Senate stood up and said ‘There is no center isle. On the basis of seniority, you can sit wherever you want.’ So you don’t have Republicans one side, Democrats the other. Now, it isn’t gonna change the world. Maybe you might strike up a conversation at some point, and decide that, despite what you’ve heard about each other, you might have more in common than you realize.”
At the end of the month, Dodd leaves the Senate after 30 years. Democrat Richard Blumenthal will take his place as Connecticut’s new junior Senator. You can listen to the full interview with Senator Dodd on Wednesday’s Where We Live.