- (Photo: Reuters/Brendan McDermid)
A new political advocacy organization called "No Labels" encourages more bipartisanship to solve the nation's political challenges.
No Labels is led by former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, who ran as a moderate Republican in his unsuccessful bid last year for the Republican presidential nomination, and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, one of the most conservative Democrats in the U.S. Senate.
At a New York City Monday meeting, the group unveiled 25 members of Congress who agreed to work together on pragmatic solutions to some of the nation's problems.
The group was cofounded in 2010. Among the 10 co-founders are CNN contributor John Avlon; Bill Galston, a senior fellow at Brookings Institutions who worked in the Bill Clinton White House; and David Walker, who served as comptroller general under president's Clinton and George W. Bush. This week's meeting is somewhat of a re-launch for their group with their new spokespersons.
No Labels has not supported specific policy proposals. Rather, its agenda is focused on fixing the political process in the hopes of getting Democrats and Republicans focused on finding common ground solutions.
The agenda items on No Labels' website include calls for reforming the Senate filibuster, no pay for members of Congress unless they pass a budget, a monthly forum – similar to some parliamentary systems, where members on Congress ask the president questions – bipartisan seating such that all members of Congress sit next to at least one member of the opposite party, and a line-item veto for the president.
"This is not about finding the endpoint for a specific policy issue," Huntsman said Sunday on ABC's "This Week." "This is about creating a pathway that speaks to problem solving. So the whole attempt here is to create a new attitude that speaks to problem solving. It's not about ideology, it's about extreme partisanship. That's the problem today."
A recent Gallup poll suggests that many Americans agree. When ask an open-ended question about the most important problem facing the country, 18 percent mentioned dissatisfaction with government, the third most mentioned problem after the economy and the debt.
The group has its critics as well.
"No Labels might be less of a joke," wrote conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin for The Washington Post, "if the group's list of 24 'Problem Solvers,' committed to bipartisanship and civil language, did not include Jon Huntsman (who not only holds no office but regularly smeared Republicans during his presidential campaign with such jibes as 'anti-science' and recently accused Republicans of having no soul) or Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), who is unmatched in his vitriol, penchant for anti-Israel remarks and general incivility."