A two-pronged attack on the Blue Dogs Posted by: McQ
on Monday, August 27, 2007
They may end up being an endangered species.
The other day I mentioned that Matt Stoller has started a campaign to "criticize" Blue Bush Dog Democrats in an effort to help them see the Netroots light. In fact, Stoller even talks about targeted Google ads criticizing their positions on various issues, such as FISA.
I also noted at the time that Republicans would probably be most eager to help in the campaign of "criticism" (as an aside, can you imagine a blogospheric effort led by Netroots which would limit itself to "criticism", however that is defined, and not descend into pure and unadulterated attacks?).
As the Wall Street Journalreports today, however, the Blue Dogs may provide plenty of ammo to the Republicans all by themselves if they keep to their present spending habits:
So far this year the blue dogs have been almost all bark when it comes to fiscal restraint and debt reduction. Thirty of the 48 have voted for every one of the non-defense spending bills their committee chairman have sent them. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is enforcing party discipline, and as a result 28 of the 48 blue dogs voted "no" on each of the 27 amendments that Republicans proposed to cut the costs of these bills. The 13 freshman Democrats who represent conservative districts—such as Heath Shuler (N.C.), Baron Hill (Ind.), Zack Space (Ohio), Nick Lampson (Texas)—have been a particular disappointment; back home these same blue dogs trumpet their "independent streak."
Voting records from recent years confirm that the blue dogs are less than consistent spending hawks. The National Taxpayers Union did some checking and found that the blue dogs had an average fiscal score of 24 out of 100, earning them a grade of D as a group. It also found that last year the blue dogs sponsored $145 of new spending for every dollar of budget reductions, for a net spending increase per member of more than $140 billion.
The blue dogs are consistent on one fiscal issue: stopping tax cuts. As a group they opposed the Bush tax cuts and the extension of those tax cuts, and a super-majority vote requirement to raise taxes—all in the name of easing the debt burden on future generations. But those concerns evaporated when all but nine in the blue dog coalition voted to expand the Schip health-care program to include many middle-class families, at a cost of $132.6 billion over the 2008-2017 period.
The possibility of a two-pronged attack on Blue Dogs exists. We'll now have to see how or if it develops (or whether the Republicans are bright enough to recognize an opportunity as it presents itself and try to capitalize on it).
The implied presumption behind the nutroots criticism campaign seems to be that the "Bush Dogs" are deliberately voting "incorrectly" because they have been bullied/bribed/co-opted by Bush. The thinking seems to be that if they can be bullied into voting incorrectly, then they can bullied back into voting correctly.
It seems more likely to me that the Bush Dogs believe that they are voting correctly already, and if that is the case then the bullying will probably backfire on the nutroots.
On the previous thread about this topic, commenter libhomo, wrote "Most Americans are against the war, want universal healthcare, and don’t want the government randomly spying on them." Contrary to what is known by the hive mind, the recent FISA debate was not about whether or not to allow the government to randomly spy on Americans. In the past, it has been accepted that the government is allowed to monitor the communications of foreign terrorist suspects without a warrant. A recent court ruling interpreted FISA so narrowly that even targeted electronic intecepts of overseas communications would require a warrant if the communication passed through an American wire, switch or server. These warrants were taking about 200 man-hours of work a piece to obtain, a process which was drastically limiting the intelligence take and diverting translators away from their important work.
Since the moonbats are supposedly in favor of using law enforcement methods against terrorism, rather than military force, and in favor of "connecting the dots" to prevent attacks, one would think that they would favor clarifying the FISA law, which was written before the advent of computer technology, to allow this overseas intelligence work to continue. Perhaps, the "Bush Dogs" had something like this in mind. Perhaps, too, they wanted to prioritize national security over another chance to score "gotcha!" political points over the Bush administration. If so, then bullying, and silly talking points about randomly spying on Americans probably won’t stop them for voting for needed FISA changes.
Maybe if the Blue Dogs are exorcised from the Democrats, and the libertarians and live-and-let-live fiscal conservatives finally give up on Republican interventionism, corporate welfare, and social meddling, there might be critical mass for a third way. I’m not holding my breath.