Published November 25, 2009
As the national conversation turns to multi-trillion dollar deficits and the towering costs of health care and climate change legislation, some in Washington are trying to change how government does business.
But it’s not just the usual suspects.
Joining the effort to rein in government spending are a group of liberal Democrats, led by Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold, who introduced legislation last month aimed at saving billions in taxpayer dollars.
"We have to come up with specific plans to eliminate the deficit," Feingold told Fox News.
But the question is -- will fellow Democrats listen?
"They'll listen to him with half an ear. Especially those that are up for re-election," political analyst Susan Estrich told Fox News.
"More and more senators every week say we have to do something about the spending," Feingold said.
Feingold's legislation would return $244 billion of unspent Wall Street bailout money to taxpayers. It would postpone putting men back on the moon, saving an estimated $24 billion. And it would eliminate annual pay raises for Congress, saving $80 million.
“It is the economy, stupid, but it's really controlling the economy and spending stupid,” Feingold said.
And Feingold is not alone. North Dakota Democratic Sens. Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgen, as well as ranking Senate Budget Committee Republican, Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., want to set up a bipartisan panel -- similar to the base closure commission -- that would have the power to make massive but unpopular spending cuts.
"Is it going to happen? No," Estrich said. "But it reflects Congress' recognition that they have a problem and they don't know how to fix it."