President Barack Obama's planned three-year freeze on discretionary spending is a shrewd political move, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) suggested Tuesday.

Bayh, a centrist Democrat who's long been a deficit hawk and who has consulted with the president many times in recent months, praised Obama's proposal as a smart policy and political move. 

"It was a good move, it was a strong move, and I think people across this country will say it's about time," Bayh said during an appearance on MSNBC. "It's not only the right substantive to do, it's also the shrewd political thing to do."


Senior Obama administration officials had briefed the media Monday evening on the president's plan, which would freeze non-defense discretionary spending for three years. The president is expected to lay out the plan in more detail on Wednesday during his first State of the Union Address.

Bayh said the focus on the deficit would reposition Democrats politically after they had faced choppy waters over the last year. Bayh said "of course" the healthcare debate had taken too long, weighing on Obama and Democrats' popularity, and that the party should have focused more intensely on job creation in the past year.

"We need to speak directly to independents, moderate Republicans and say, look, we're going to pursue common-sense solutions to get this country back on track," he said.

Bayh also asserted that while programs like the state children's health insurance program (S-CHIP) were accomplishments on which Democrats could hang their hats, they have to move more deliberately on their spending initiatives.

"We can have progressive government in this country, but we have to take it a step at a time," he argued.