"Some people suggested I should have been on the couch for years," cracked former Senator Evan Bayh, D-Ind., during his Thursday morning premiere as a Fox News pundit.
Bayh drew from his experience as a moderate Democrat in both the Senate and as Indiana's governor on FOX & Friends to explain President Obama's deal-making strategy on the federal budget.
"Sometimes you have to wait for the legislative process to get to the right point," Bayh said, disagreeing with current Democrats who have called for more involvement from Obama.
He cited the president's recent success at working both sides of the aisle to make a bipartisan tax deal in December, saying the key was timing. And the timing will be right, in Bayh's estimation, during the debt ceiling debate in May or June. "He needs to step up when things are about to come together, and bring people together."
As a politician, even though Bayh was always a Democrat, he often sided with Republicans. So, he can see what both parties want, but he can also see that nothing is likely to get done until lawmakers are dealing with a deadline.
"If he came out right now, his proposal would be a piñata for the left and right," Bayh said about the president's spending proposals. Bayh thinks eventually Obama will show his willingness to offend some parts of his Democratic base without fully conceding to the Republican controlled House.
For now the president should use the ticking clock to his advantage,
"If he comes out now with entitlement reform, the left will go crazy and say 'no way'," Bayh argues. "If you come out with tax reform that might raise more revenue, the right will come out and go crazy and say 'no way.'"
"You need to wait for that critical moment when everybody realizes, 'OK, now we have to get something done'."
Evan Bayh joined the FOX News Channel this past Monday as a contributor.