There is a story on Page 1 of today's Idaho Statesman print edition about the Center Aisle Coalition, a group of people in the House of Representatives who are dedicated to breaking gridlock on issues on which there's broad agreement. It's a great idea. However, the real choke point in Congress is the closely divided U.S. Senate, where Democrats hold a thin 51-49 majority (and that's including independents Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman). By the end of its current term, the 110th Congress is on track to having nearly triple the usual number of cloture votes as any previous Congress, as Republicans have repeatedly blocked passage of legislation ranging from ethics reform to renewable energy. (This chart is out-of-date, but it shows how Senate Republicans have obstructed progress in Congress since the current term began.)
Overall, Americans hold progressive values on accessible health care, creating a new energy economy, responsible foreign policy, preserving Social Security, strengthening public schools, and returning to a tax policy that helps middle class families who are struggling to get by. The only way to achieve these values is to elect Barack Obama and give Democrats a bigger majority in both Houses of Congress, but especially in the Senate. A filibuster-proof majority of 60 seats ought to be voters' goal. Here in Idaho, electing Larry LaRocco will help achieve that, with the added bonus of LaRocco gaining seniority for the two terms he's already served in the House. A vote for Jim Risch is a vote for more gridlock.