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Aug 27, 2007

The 'Blue Dog' Moment

Some time ago I read an article which suggested that the Libertarian Party might be better off aligning itself with the Democrats. I can't remember where it was - when something is patently ridiculous you don't plug it in the memory banks. If the reason was fiscal responsibility the following link should shatter that idea.

I'll get you started by quoting in part this article from the Wall St Journal.

The 'Blue Dog' Moment
So far, they're spending like other Democrats.

Monday, August 27, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

A high-stakes budget showdown is shaping up this fall between President Bush and Congressional Democrats. The debate will also be a moment of truth for the so-called "blue dog" Democrats: the 48 self-described fiscal conservatives in the House Democratic Caucus.

The bone of contention is the $22 billion in domestic spending that Democrats passed in their budget resolution above what Mr. Bush requested in his own budget. The Democratic spending plan would increase non-defense expenditures by 6.5% next year--more than double the inflation rate. The White House is threatening vetoes if Democrats pass spending bills above Mr. Bush's limit, which could possibly lead to a government shutdown. Republicans have already lined up the necessary House votes to sustain any spending veto.

The blue dog Web site boasts that its mission is to "refocus Congress on balancing the budget and ridding taxpayers of the burden of debt." If a balanced budget is what they want, the best fiscal option would be to enact what is called a "continuing resolution" budget that would fund all programs at last year's level plus 1% or 2%. Along with rising tax revenues, this could cut the budget deficit roughly in half next year, to well under $100 billion. But Republicans can't do that on their own: they need the votes of these moderate Democrats.

Here's the rub: 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."

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