Representative Bruce Braley (IA-01) announced plans to form a Populist Caucus in December. According to the Huffington Post, Braley plans to roll out the new caucus this week. (Hat tip David Sirota.)
Huffington Post lists most of the 21 founding members, who come from all over the country. There are moderates like Leonard Boswell (IA-03) and Phil Hare (IL-17), progressives like Keith Ellison (MN-05) and Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), and netroots heroes like Eric Massa (NY-29) and Pete DeFazio (OR-04). According to Huffington Post, Braley would be open to having Republicans join the caucus, although only Democrats have signed up so far.
Braley's letter inviting colleagues to join the caucus listed these key points of the Populist Caucus agenda:
1. Fighting for working families and the middle class through the establishment of an equitable tax structure, fair wages, proper benefits, a level playing field at the negotiating table, and secure, solvent retirement plans.
2. Providing affordable, accessible, quality health care to all Americans.
3. Ensuring accessible, quality primary education for all American children, and affordable college education for all who want it.
4. Protecting consumers, so that Americans can once again have faith in the safety and effectiveness of the products they purchase.
5. Defending American competitiveness by fighting for fair trade principles.
6. Creating and retaining good-paying jobs in America.
Huffington Post also had this encouraging news:
The Populist Caucus will make its first major play by advocating for the inclusion of a "Buy American" provision in the stimulus package.
Bring it on. The "Buy American" provision is important if we want the stimulus to create jobs in the U.S. rather than taxpayer-funded outsourcing.
Though only starting his second term in Congress, Braley is rising fast. He landed a seat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee after aggressively advocating for Henry Waxman to replace John Dingell as its chairman. He is also one of three vice-chairs of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.