This is What 'Deficit Hawks' Are For

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Congressional Democrats have now agreed to a ‘bipartisan stimulus compromise’ supported by fewer than 1 percent of Congressional Republicans, on a plan to spend about $780 billion or so of your money trying to get the economy moving again. Economists say this bill might provide a few temporary jobs for some workers, but it does nothing to correct the fundamental problems of the economy. Each version of the bill so far has wasted too much on pork-barrel projects and contained little in pro-growth tax cuts. We’ve seen that the bill has contained the seeds of nationalized health care, an end to welfare reform, and the potential to send the economy into a death spiral through a new trade war.

And we don’t know what’s in the bill now, because Democrats closed the doors and negotiated it in the middle of the night. In defiance of their public promises, they will push it to a vote before Members of Congress have had a chance to review it – let alone the public. And rather than this being the last big-ticket spending item this Congress will consider, it’s probably the first of many. The Obama administration says more funds may yet be needed for more bank bailouts. Hundreds of billions will be needed for health care ‘reform.’ There’s still over $400 billion in spending left to approve for the 2009 federal budget. And Congress will take up a transportation bill this Summer.

At best, this bill is a huge mistake.

That’s where the House Blue Dogs come in – whether they like it or not. This is how the Blue Dogs describe themselves:

The Blue Dog Coalition – who celebrated 13 years of leadership in 2008 – has built a reputation as a serious player in the policy arena, promoting positions which bridge the gap between ideological extremes. Many of the group’s policy proposals have been praised as fair, responsible, and positive additions to a Congressional environment too often marked as partisan and antagonistic…

The Coalition has been particularly active on fiscal issues, relentlessly pursuing a balanced budget and then protecting that achievement from politically popular “raids” on the budget. Past Coalition budgets have won the endorsement of the nonpartisan Concord Coalition and multiple newspaper and magazine editorials. As one column pointed out, the Blue Dogs have proven that “common sense, conservative economics and compassion aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive.”

Blue Dog Coalition proposals have served as middle-ground markers which laid the foundation for the bipartisanship necessary to bring about fundamental reforms, and helped set into law policies reflecting the “common sense, conservative compassion” so often attached to the group’s efforts.

I’ve beaten up on the Blue Dogs lately – accusing them of being toothless Democrat partisans who turn tail and run when they confront their liberal masters. Today’s the day to prove me wrong. For many, it may be the last chance to save their political careers.

And as if this weren’t enough, the Blue Dogs have already expressed their concerns with this bill, and threatened to block it if it is wasteful or bloated with unnecessary spending:

We are writing as leaders of the Blue Dog Coalition to urge a redoubled effort to streamline the stimulus and recovery package to achieve the goals of stimulating and strengthening the economy on the fastest feasible timeline and ensuring that taxpayer funds are safeguarded from fraud, waste and abuse…

That is why, as leaders of the Blue Dog Coalition, we worked before the House vote to target and remove spending in the bill that does not have the kind of stimulative, or long-term job creation potential, that is needed. We achieved some modest success, in the removal of hundreds of million of dollars, before the House vote, that we believe was either insufficiently stimulative or unrelated to long-term economic growth. We believe this spending is more properly addressed during the course of the normal appropriations process, which imposes tough budget choices and is critical to Congress’ efforts to keep to a fiscally responsible path…

We look forward to working with you to achieve that goal and ensure that any final stimulus and recovery package is properly focused to achieve the results the American people expect and deserve.

Do the Blue Dogs care about balanced budgets? Do they oppose wasteful spending? Are they the taxpayer’s best friend, the conscience of the Congress, and the moderates who craft bipartisan solutions? Today is the day to prove it. If they help Congressional leaders pass this massive spending bill with no scrutiny, then they don’t really serve any purpose. And they’ll be reminded of it over and over again before the next election.