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August 17, 2009
Dear Media, the Blue
Dogs Are Not Fiscally Conservative
primary story of the health care debate has been the Blue Dog Democrats’
resistance to Barack Obama’s takeover of American health care. As a
result of this show being put on by the Blue Dogs for their
constituents, just about every media outlet has labeled the group and
its 52 congressional members as “fiscally conservative.”
quick note to the journalism majors who are penning such words: Not
everyone slightly to the right of the far left is “conservative.”
You see, to the right of the far left, one might find an array of
categories – from “leftist” to “moderate” – that provide a mighty buffer
before a consequential label such as “conservative” can be used. And
allow me to assure you, the Blue Dogs have far from traversed this
their official web site, the Blue Dogs themselves describe their
coalition as “fiscally conservative” (which, it turns out, suffices in
satisfying modern journalism’s minimal standards of research and
inquiry). Yet ever since the group’s formation in 1995, the Blue Dogs
have been anything but “fiscally conservative.”
They hardly stood up to Bill Clinton when he pushed economic
overregulation and tax increases. But they most certainly stood up to
George W. Bush when he chose to act in a fiscally conservative manner
(something that did not happen too often), most notably when he promoted
his tax cut legislation.
The Blue Dogs haven’t exactly jumped out as “fiscally conservative”
under the current administration either. This was most visibly noted
when only seven Democrats voted against Obama’s gargantuan, pork-filled
“stimulus” package that has, if anything, only
slowed down the economy in the last few months. That leaves an
overwhelming majority of Blue Dogs who failed to oppose a $787
billion monster that was drawn up and thrust with incredible haste
and irresponsibility by the Democrats, and that dropped billions on
items that not even Keynesians could pretend are helpful to the economy.
the other hand, precisely zero Republican members of the House voted for
the so-called stimulus. When three Republican senators cast their vote
for the wasteful spending bill, they faced such outrage from even
politically moderate Americans that one of them was even compelled to
change his political affiliation, and has since become a Democrat.
other words, with the exception of three individuals, no fiscally
conservative, fiscally moderate, or fiscally liberal Republican voted
for the stimulus. The same cannot be said for the Blue Dogs, who did not
exactly join the ranks of the resistance. When the stimulus was such a
massive waste that even fiscally liberal Republicans voted against it,
it is no more than a mockery to call the Blue Dogs, who largely
supported the morally ambiguous bill, anything even approaching “fiscal
Indeed, organizations that keep track of legislators’ ideological
placement, such as the American Conservative Union and the National
Taxpayers Union, confirm the fact that the Blue Dogs are fiscally
conservative only relative to their far-left Democratic friends, and
only slightly so.
The Blue Dogs are simply not fiscal conservatives. They are Democrats
from moderate or conservative legislative districts with voters who keep
them on their toes. They will vote for massive government when they
think it will help them, and will appease their constituency when the
latter demands restraint – which explains in large part the Blue Dogs’
current resistance on the health care issue, in light of widespread
popular dissatisfaction with the administration’s plans.
please refrain from placing the Blue Dogs, who regularly vote to the
left of even liberal Republicans and for such decidedly fiscally
unconservative horrors such as the $787 billion stimulus,
anywhere other than to the left of the ideological center.
You, dear aspiring members of the press, might not realize it, but when
anyone barely to the right of the far left is called “conservative,”
then actual conservatives suddenly sound like right-wing extremists, and
average liberals come off as moderates. Come to think of it, actually,
you most likely realize this fact quite fully.
© 2009 North Star
Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.
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