Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: February 8, 2011

Blue Dogs — might as well support the GOP budget

As mentioned in the previous posts, the Blue Dogs in Congress aren’t feeling the love from minority leader (don’t you love that title) Nancy Pelosi and the crew.  And that may have a beneficial effect for the GOP.

Blue dogs didn’t feel the love of voters last November either, with about half of them going down to defeat after they supported the health care law. Message sent, message received.  Sooo … they’re taking a look at the Republican budget and some are saying (surprise, surprise) it might be something they can support:

Blue Dog Democrats might support a plan from House Republicans to cut $32 billion in discretionary spending this year, a spokesman for the fiscally conservative bloc said Monday.

Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.) said the Blue Dogs are waiting to see the details of the proposed GOP cuts before taking a position. The draft legislation from the House Appropriations Committee is due on Thursday.

Now, of course, the GOP doesn’t need a single Democrat in the House to pass the budget.  Just as the Democrats didn’t need a single Republican to pass health care.  But having a “bi-partisan” budget with significant enough Democratic support to call it that (and not snicker) would put more pressure on Democrats elsewhere. 

But the comments from Ross and other Blue Dogs suggest at least some of the coalition’s members are willing to defect from their party and vote for the plan despite the vocal opposition of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). 

Last week Pelosi rejected the GOP plan and said that $32 billion in proposed cuts “will come at the expense of economic growth and American jobs.”

“We must put our fiscal house in order, beginning with an aggressive attack on waste, fraud and abuse; but we must do so without jeopardizing targeted investments that are helping the private sector grow and hire new workers,” Pelosi said.

Got to love it  — “waste, fraud and abuse”, the fall back of those who don’t intend to cut a dime while still talking about cutting spending.  No one ever does anything about “waste, fraud and abuse” except talk about it.  No one.  And If Ms. Pelosi is so fired up about aggressively attacking it, why wasn’t that a priority when she was Speaker?

However the GOP doesn’t get off Scott free either – what happened to the $100 billion in cuts promised prior to the election?  Why $32 billion (one of the questions I plan on asking Paul Ryan if I get the chance)?

Anyway, back to the point at hand – minority leader Pelosi is simply reaping a bit of what she’s sown:

The Blue Dog openness to the GOP comes amid strained relations with Pelosi. On Monday, Blue Dog leader Rep. Heath Shuler (N.C.), who challenged Pelosi for the job of Democratic leader in the 112th Congress, said the coalition has been shut out by the leader’s office.

So, no surprise – the Blue Dogs aren’t liberal enough for the leadership (yes that’s today’s theme).   In fact, they recently met with Bill Clinton to plot a bit of strategy:

The 26-member Blue Dog Coalition met Monday in New York with former President Clinton to discuss ways to move a centrist political agenda through a divided Congress. Clinton advised the group on ways to handle the situation and discussed budget, housing and energy policy, Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) said.

“One of the reasons we invited President Clinton was he had to work with Republicans after the ’94 election,” Ross said.

Now you know if that coalition is plotting a “move to a centrist political agenda”, it along with just about everyone else have decided that the “main stream” Democrats are way to the left of them.   And they may find more leverage with the opposing party by being the designated “bi-partisan” validator with some “compromise” from the GOP to include some of their ideas.

And Nancy and the gang?  Out in the cold gobbling on about “waste, fraud and abuse”.  About the only real example of waste, fraud and abuse I’ve seen is the minority leader herself.  A waste of time, a fraud as a representative of the people and an abuse of power all rolled up into one liberal politician.  Can we do away with her?   It will certainly save taxpayers money.



An indication of the Democrats move to the left–DLC folds

Yesterday I mentioned the problems the more conservative among Democrats were having identifying with the Democratic party.  Blue Dogs in Congress have all but been ostracized by the Democratic leadership there, Southern Democrats (at a state level) are increasingly changing parties citing the move to the left by the national Democratic party and finally, today, we learn that the Democratic Leadership Council is closing its doors.

That may be the final nail in the claim of Democrats to be “main stream” as a national party.  

The Democratic Leadership Council, the iconic centrist organization of the Clinton years, is out of money and could close its doors as soon as next week, a person familiar with the plans said Monday.

The DLC, a network of Democratic elected officials and policy intellectuals had long been fading from its mid-’90s political relevance, tarred by the left as a symbol of "triangulation" at a moment when there’s little appetite for intra-party warfare on the center-right.

In talking about big tents and little tents, it appears that the Democrats have chosen to go with the smaller version.  It has been captured by the liberal side of the house (at the moment) and anyone who has watched that side of the house do business over the years (that includes politicians, pundits and bloggers) know there is little room for dissent in the ranks.   The DLC falls victim not to attacks from the right, but from attacks from the left.   The formula which arguably made Bill Clinton the most successful Democratic president since FDR has been chucked out the window for a new and much more radical approach to governance (and no I’m not suggesting Clinton and FDR were alike in their governance).

The DLC’s demise simply puts an exclamation point on the oft cited move to the left by Democrats.   What was once seen as “the working man’s party” has since become the party of radicals and unions.  All that’s left of the DLC is their think tank, the Progressive Policy Institute.  But one has to wonder what relevance it will have among the new Democratic party.

All this to point out that when Democrats, as they like to do, claim that the GOP has been captured by radicals, one only has to rebut that claim by holding up a mirror.  Obviously, given the move to the left, Bill Clinton would be much to conservative for today’s national Democrat.

The unfortunate thing is you’d think this would be wonderful news for the GOP.  But if you’re watching the lineup for 2012 unfold, in the presidential race, it is so 2008 it is sickening.   Certainly Obama faces something he’s never faced before – he actually has to run on his record – but I’m not sure, given the lineup today, that’s a particularly tough hill for him to climb.  And while I know there are quite a few “almost ready” types who might be mighty contenders in 2016, the field for 2012 – at least at this point – is not impressive in my opinion.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand – the demise of the DLC is definitely election fodder for the GOP to capitalize on.  They have a basis to claim the national Democratic party is too radical for the US.  They also have all sorts of examples – bailouts, takeovers, over regulation, the health care bill.

Let’s see if they can build and sell the message to their advantage.