November 21, 2005

BILL CLINTON IS GONE AND THE BLUE DOGS ARE DEAD:

Pelosi's Poodles: "Blue Dog" Democrats go to obedience school. (John Fund, , November 21, 2005, Opinion Journal)

Last week, they did precisely that. Last Thursday the House rejected by 224-209 a bill that would have slightly trimmed health and education spending for the coming year. A total of 22 Republicans, almost all moderates, broke ranks to defeat the bill. Not a single Democrat voted for the bill. The next day, the House finally passed a five-year budget plan, 217-215. Again every Democrat opposed it, as did 14 Republicans, all but two of them moderates.

Media attention has focused on the GOP moderates, generally portraying them as finally standing up to their leadership by opposing heartless cuts in social programs. Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, a rural New York Republican, was quoted as calling the original package of budget cuts "far too high" and complaining that GOP leaders were trying to "clone" everyone in the party into one mold. Despite his rhetoric, he provided a critical vote to pass the budget last Friday after he was promised more money for low-income energy assistance along with the promise of an extension for one of several federal programs that subsidize dairy farmers when prices drop.

Much less attention has been paid to the role of the Blue Dog Democrats, who have voted in lockstep with the rest of their party to oppose all spending cuts. The Blue Dogs talk a great game. They properly excoriate the Bush administration's fiscal record and have proposed a 12-step plan to control spending, which includes such sensible ideas as honest budget accounting. Rep. Jim Cooper of Tennessee has bravely called for delaying or ending the new prescription drug entitlement.

What the Blue Dogs haven't done is provide votes for any slowdown in federal spending. They complain they haven't been consulted by GOP leaders, and there is some truth to that. But the unmistakable impression is that they are now putting short-term partisanship ahead of good policy by trying to make the House ungovernable. It's not that Blue Dogs haven't provided votes to pass bipartisan legislation in the past. When a bankruptcy reform bill came up this year, 73 Democrats voted in favor. Forty-two Democrats voted to repeal the estate tax permanently, and 50 Democrats backed class-action lawsuit reform. But on the budget? Nada, zip, not a one.


It's hardly news that there are no longer any New Democrats.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 21, 2005 7:19 AM
Comments

"A total of 22 Republicans, almost all moderates " Is moderates newspeak for turncoats?

Posted by: erp at November 21, 2005 9:58 AM

The Blue Dogs are far from dead, and conservative Republicans knew it two weeks ago when they begged (http://www.rollcall.com/issues/51_49/news/11181-1.html) the Blue Dogs to join them in the budget vote to make up for the fact that some of their own guys had seen through the irresponsibility of their fiscal proposals. The Blue Dogs said no, which was more a sign of standing up for their own core budget principles than aligning themselves with Pelosi; as Fund himself points out, they haven't been afraid to tell Nancy no in the recent past. I'm for the Blue Dogs.

Posted by: meters at November 21, 2005 1:03 PM

meters:

Yet the GOP passed cuts without any Democrats and no Democrats offer any meaningful cuts. There are no Blue Dogs anymore.

Posted by: oj at November 21, 2005 1:29 PM
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