It is starting to seem that Barack Obama and Harry Reid may finally be browbeating enough Senators to get 60 votes for their debt spending bill. The word is that moderates might be coalescing together on a compromise at around $800 billion or so.
But just as if the Democrats seem like they might be pulling it together to pass a terrible bill through the Senate, the House Democratic Blue Dogs are laying down a marker to Speaker Pelosi:
Fiscally conservative Democrats are warning party leaders that their support for multibillion-dollar economic stimulus legislation hinges on more “wasteful spending” being stripped from the bill.
In a letter sent Thursday to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), leaders of the 49-member Blue Dog Coalition said the stimulus plan stands to lose more support from their group unless spending is reined in.
“While a number of Blue Dogs voted against the package considered in the House, many of those who did support it did so with serious reservations,” wrote the coalition leaders. Many of those who voted for it are holding out that it will be improved in the Senate and ultimately “through negotiations between the chambers of Congress, together with President Obama.”
The Blue Dog leaders did acknowledge having some success paring back the House-passed package, but say more can and should be done. The fiscal conservatives also said they support Senate efforts to further reduce the size of its version of the bill.
Now before you get your hopes up that the Blue Dogs might actually provide the decisive votes in defeating this package, remember that they are basically useless. They primp and preen as deficit hawks in order to get elected, or to bedevil Republicans. But when their voices would actually matter, they cave and back the Democratic big government agenda.
For example, the Blue Dogs step forward today and say that they're concerned about the deficit growing too big, but at the start of the Congress, when Barack Obama was merely contemplating a spending package in the hundreds of billions, they blessed the plan -- because he had promised spending cuts down the road. Then once the damage had been done, 10 Blue Dogs voted against the crap sandwich (not including Paul Kanjorski -- who voted against it because it was too small).
True to form, the Blue Dogs are now again squawking about the price tag -- at a time when they'll draw little attention to spoil Obama's fun. Down the road they'll point to this letter to prove their fiscal bona fides, but you can bet the house that they won't actually defeat the spending bill -- even if it comes in above the $800 billion or so currently being discussed. They'll point to some fig leaf that was crucial to earning their support.
If you're represented by anyone on this list, show up at the next townhall meeting and ask why the Blue Dogs are AWOL when it matters.