SEN. COLLINS ON SAVING THE CENTER: "With a $15 trillion debt, 13 million people unemployed, oil near $110 per barrel and turmoil throughout the Middle East, there is an urgent need for leaders from the sensible center who realize that neither party has a monopoly on good ideas. The challenges we face will not be met by those who believe compromise is a dirty word. What has been lost in recent times is a commitment to Congress as an institution, a sense that we are collectively responsible for addressing the issues that confront our country, and that if the institution fails to perform each of us bears responsibility. Just when we most need to function as a team, it appears many of us are unable to see beyond our individual self-interest or the interest of our political party." Read moreSen. Susan Collins (R-ME) for The Washington Post: Yes, the political center can be saved
ON THE PATH TO COMPROMISE IN THE ECONOMIC CRISIS: "It was a path that economists from both sides of the divide supported, and a path that was explicitly included in the deficit-reduction reports of the Simpson-Bowles commission and the Bipartisan Policy Center’s debt-reduction task force. It was a path that would have helped the economy recover more quickly and prevented potential crises down the road. And it was a path that was blocked primarily by partisanship, not a serious philosophical or intellectual disagreement. As I see it, our system was tested in the initial months of the financial meltdown and it performed relatively well. But then it was tested again in the recession and it performed horribly, and it did so for structural reasons that are likely to repeat during future periods of extended crisis." Read moreEzra Klein for The Washington Post: The political failure that worsened the crisis
THE THRILL IS GONE: Members of Congress don't have a lot going for them these days — and many are leaving. “Look, the people who come here, I’ve gotten to know my colleagues over the years. They come here not to be involved in gridlock, they come here to get things done. That’s why they’re in public service,” said Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, a retiring independent who caucuses with Democrats. “Why would you spend all the time raising money, run for office and go through the nastiness that’s part of a general modern political campaign to come here and be involved in gridlock? They come here to get something done.” Read more:Jonathan Allen for POLITICO: Being on the Hill loses its thrill
DONE ALREADY? "I didn't get the memo you get to take presidential election years off," Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) said of Congress in a recent interview. Read moreLinda Killian for The Atlantic: Why Congress May Be Done for the Year
STAT OF THE DAY: Gridlock in Congress is causing many members of Congress to retire, including a number of proven problem-solvers. A total of 735 years of congressional experience will be lost in transition.
ACTION OF THE DAYTelephone town halls are rising in popularity according to USA Today — and No Labels is having one on March 13, at 11 a.m., with Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN). Click here to RSVP.
Tips, questions or ideas? Email Collin Berglund at or tweet at me (@nolabelsorg).