Free Markets, Free People
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.
It is getting to be fun now. Tea Parties to the right of us, union parties to the left …
The SEIU (Service Employees International Union), often seen at Tea Party rallies trying to introduce a little violence, has decided that NC would be a good state to test out their promise to Blue Dogs that they’d go after them if they didn’t support the agenda the SEIU Democrats wanted.
Wow, Blue Dogs and Dem lap dogs going after each other. You have to like it.
The SEIU says it will do so via a third party – North Carolina First – which, of course, bypasses the whole primary gig. That means those Blue Dogs they’ve targeted (Dem. Reps Heath Shuler, Mike McIntyre, and Larry Kissell) will face the SEIU candidates in the general elections in traditionally red districts, thereby reliably splitting whatever blue vote there might be and ensuring a GOP victory.
Of course, that’s if the Tea Party (TP) isn’t running a candidate of its own in the general election (although indications are TP candidates are more likely to challenge in the GOP primary vs. a general election).
The SEIU is teaming up with State Employees Association of North Carolina (SEANC) to try and stand the party up and field candidates for the fall election. Anyone who wants those 3 seats to go to the GOP is most likely wishing the SEIU and SEANC a lot of luck in doing just that.
Greg Sargent thinks this is a “a serious experiment in reshaping the landscape of Democratic politics, and it bears watching” implying could be a template for similar attempts in other states. I sure hope so. And if so, coupled with the TP, it would be an attempt on both sides of the political spectrum to move the primary party in that part of the spectrum more to the left or right respectively. You have to wonder how independents would react to success in such attempts and then which way they’d tend to go to lend their support.
Charlie Cook, one of the most respected of the political prognosticators, continues to sound the alarm for Congressional Democrats. Since August, Cook has been telling them they’re headed for electoral disaster in the 2010 midterms if they don’t change their ways.
Most of the erosion of support has taken place among independents. Although the country still seems willing to give President Obama the benefit of the doubt, at latest for the time being, they’re not willing to extend that to Congress. The threat to the Democratic majority in the House, unsurprisingly, comes in the districts of the Blue Dogs:
I am becoming convinced, based on this and other research, that although many independent voters are disappointed in specific things that Obama has done, they still hope that he will do well and believe that he might. To be sure, red America has already given Obama the thumbs down. And blue America just wishes he would be more liberal. But it’s purple America, the independents who voted for Democrats in the 2006 midterm election by an 18-point margin, that makes the biggest difference right now. Most House Democrats live in blue America and show little awareness that their party has a problem. However, the Democrats’ majority is built on a layer of 54 seats that the party picked up in 2006 and 2008 that are largely in purple — or even red — America. Democrats ought to keep in mind that 84 of their current House members represent districts won by President Bush in 2004 or John McCain in 2008.
A whopping 48 of those Democrats — eight more than the size of their party’s majority — are from districts that voted for both Bush and McCain. That America is very different from the Democratic base in blue America, and it sees many major issues very differently.
Two things to note – as Cook notes, the number of Blue Dog districts comprise more than the Democratic majority in the House. If independents continue to desert Democrats in the numbers they have, it is not at all inconceivable that they could lose every one of those districts (all of which voted for Bush and McCain).
Secondly, the other point to understand is the leadership comes from the “blue” side of the tracks – safe blue districts – consequently they’re most likely not going to back off on their more liberal agenda (Pelosi’s claim that the health care bill will not pass the House without a “public option” being a perfect example). That could end up mortally wounding Democrats chances in those 84 districts that are traditionally red districts – enough so the Republicans regain the majority.
The political tea leaves continue to point to trouble from Democrats as well:
The 17-point advantage that Democrats enjoyed in the January Gallup Poll (when “leaners” were included) shrank to 5 points in August. Their edge on the generic congressional ballot test has vanished, according to most national polls. For three years, Democrats enjoyed high single-digit or low double-digit leads on this question — a very good indicator of which direction (and how hard) the political winds are blowing as a congressional election nears.
Of course the question is “can Democrats recover before November, 2010?”
What we are seeing is an electorate growing just as disgusted with the Democratic majority as it did with the Republican one in 2006. The mounting ethics problems of House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., combined with ongoing allegations about House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Murtha, D-Pa., and others on his panel threaten to make matters still worse for their party.
Despite Nancy Pelosi’s promises to have the “most ethical Congress ever” when Democrats were swept into the majority in Congress, she’s shown no stomach for actually taking on the tough ethical problems the House Democrats face. Cook is implying that unless they do (and they won’t), that combined with their agenda and the growing disgust among independents with both, could doom their chances of maintaining their majorities in 2010 (much less likely in the Senate, but the Democratic majority may be much less than at present by the end of election night).
Some Democrats are beginning to see the possibility of such an occurrence. Joe Biden said recently that the agenda the administration is pursuing is over if Republicans win in 2010.
We can only hope Cook is correct – mixed government would be a God send given this president.
Apparently it will according to some who have actually beaten their way through the entire bill and read the contents:
The Ways and Means Committee’s proposed bill language (pdf) would virtually require that the president impose an import tariff on any country that fails to clamp down on greenhouse gas emissions.
Of course in this full bore onslaught of major life changing legislation which the Democrats seem determined to push through the Congress as quickly as they can (citing the imminent crisis it will foment if they don’t), this issue seems to be lost in the shuffle:
“This is a sleeper issue that lawmakers have not been paying enough attention to,” said Jake Colvin, vice president for global trade issues at the National Foreign Trade Council, which represents multinational corporations like Boeing Co. and Microsoft Corp. advocating for an open international trading system.
“The danger is, you focus so much on leveling the playing field for U.S. firms, that you neglect the potentially serious consequences that this could have on the international trading system,” Colvin said.
Nancy Peolosi is aiming for a vote in the House this Friday, before the July 4th recess. That obviously will mean very, very limited debate, if any. As NRO notes:
Not content to tempt political fate by imposing huge carbon taxes on the American middle class, Democrats have added a provision which imposes stiff tariffs on our trading partners if they don’t adopt aggressive carbon restrictions of their own.
You heard correctly: progressives have authored a bill that earns the mortal enmity of domestic energy consumers and our most crucial trading partners at the same time. Economy-killing climate policies and a trade war — together at last!
The devil is in the details:
Leaks from Hill offices indicate that the president would now be forced to impose the carbon tariffs — and could only opt out of doing so with permission from both chambers of Congress. Carbon-intensive imports would be subject to penalties at the border unless the country of origin requires emission reduction measures at least 80 percent as costly as ours. (The original Waxman-Markey bill had a threshold of 60 percent.)
Brilliant. Of course, some are going to argue that such measures surely will not be in the Senate version and not survive the reconciliation process when the two versions are merged. With this Congress I wouldn’t bet the farm on that.
There’s some talk that the blue dogs are going to oppose this bill. Obviously you would expect the GOP to oppose it as well. Are there enough other Dems to oppose so as to defeat it? Pelosi may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to many things, but over the years she has learned to count votes I’m sure.
Bottom line: this bill is an economy killer, plain and simple. But it is also a progressive wet-dream shared by Pelosi. She is going to do everything in her power to push it through the House.