(In light of the health-care vote, this is an encore editorial about the real nature of so-called Blue Dog Democrats, who are not who they purport themselves to be.)
There is a big myth in American politics that the so-called Blue Dogs in the House of Representatives are ‘moderate’ or ‘swing’ or ‘conservative’ Democrats, that they are just Republicans with a D after their names.
This stems from the perception that these Blue Dogs are politicians who have been chosen by Democrat leaders to run in conservative Democrat districts or even in Republican districts and in states where liberals aren’t likely to win. But these myths are hardly true.
Because these Blue Dogs, whose ideological persuasion is said to be pro-gun, fiscal restraint and social conservatism, often vote party-line liberal for most things like Obama stimulus spending and bailouts, Cash for Clunkers, extreme enviro legislation, abortion, CAFTA and NAFTA.
In other words, they are Democrats. Period.
According to Isaac T. Wood writing for the Rasmussen Reports polling site:
At the end of the day, contrary to the current media narrative, over two-thirds of Blue Dogs solidly support the Democratic agenda, with 36 of the 52 members voting the party line on over 90 percent of the time. In fact, only three Blue Dogs (Gene Taylor, with a 78 percent party voting score; Bobby Bright, AL-2, with 71 percent; and Walt Minnick, ID-1, with 68 percent) vote with the party on less than 80 percent of votes. On the vast majority of bills, most Blue Dogs vote just like their Democratic colleagues….
Although more than half of the Blue Dogs voted for the initial House health care bill, the coalition still provided 24 of the 39 Democratic “no” votes…(end of excerpt)
Thus the health-care bill is one instance where 24 Blue Dogs showed their moderate nature. But still that means that 28 Blue Dogs voted in favor of the House bill putting the lie to the Blue Dog label as ‘conservative’ or even ‘moderate’. Because the House bill had a public option included, which no fiscal conservative would support.
And notice that Blue Dogs represented only 24 of the 39 Democrat ‘no’ votes. Which means there were 15 other Democrats who are conservative who are not included on the Blue Dog list including Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona, Harry Teague of New Mexico, Tom Perriello of Virginia and Brian Baird of Washington state, who is retiring.
In contrast, the Stupak Amendment of the House health-care bill, which barred use of any federal money for elective abortions even in subsidized private health insurance plans, was supported among Blue Dogs by a 36 to 16 margin. So indeed there is some social conservatism among Blue Dogs.
The Blue Dogs were formed in 1994 by genuinely conservative Democrats who saw their party badly defeated in the congressional elections of that year. They were primarily from the South and thought that the Democrat party had veered too far left under Clinton.
The term Blue Dog comes from an old expression that said that Southerners would vote for “a yellow dog” before they would vote for a Republican. Because Southerners hated Republicans for freeing the slaves and for the Civil War. And now “yellow dog” has simply turned “blue”. And today 28 states are represented by at least one Blue Dog in the House including one representative from Maine, Colorado and New York, and seven Californians. Just 20 of the 52 Blue Dogs are from the South.
Normally the voting patterns of Blue Dogs might not cause so much alarm and could be marked up to politics as usual. But conservatives now must seek clarity because these Blue Dogs are voting on major pieces of legislation like the stimulus bill and the health-care bill that are going to affect America for decades. And this is why these so-called Blue Dogs need to be exposed for who they really are at this critical time for our nation.
Consider Adam Schiff of California, who was elected in 2000 in a district that Obama won by 68%, who is listed as a Blue Dog. Yet he is a very liberal congressman. Ditto Californians Jane Harman of California (1996) (64%) Loretta Sanchez (2000) (60%) and Joe Baca (1999) (68%). Because California is a very liberal state where everything that is not far left is considered ‘conservative’. Still it seems strange that these people would be considered anything but liberals. Blue Dogs Harman and Dennis Cardoza have 100% ratings from the pro-abortion group NARAL, along with other Blue Dogs like John Barrow and Sanford Bishop of Georgia. Which makes you wonder: Who gives the Blue Dog label and why? And has it become just another Democrat electoral scam?
Indeed it is a scam. Because it is not how Blue Dogs vote, but how they originally campaigned for office that makes them Blue Dogs. Because Blue Dogs, like Obama himself, will misrepresent themselves and run on a conservative or centrist platform, but then, once in office, will often vote leftist. This is a classic Democrat tactic that obviously took hold as the party saw the potential in Blue Dog candidates in a nation that still is relatively conservative.
So what is the answer for the GOP?
The Republican party must run candidates who will openly confront the genuinely liberal nature of some of these Blue Dogs.
To see the contrast in Blue Dog voting patterns, consider Mike McIntyre of North Carolina. An excellent website for tracking politicians’ actual votes www.ontheissues.org says of McIntyre’s record on tax reform:
Voted YES on extending AMT exemptions to avoid hitting middle-income. (Jun 2008)
Voted YES on paying for AMT relief by closing offshore business loopholes. (Dec 2007)
Voted YES on retaining reduced taxes on capital gains & dividends. (Dec 2005)
Voted YES on providing tax relief and simplification. (Sep 2004)
Voted YES on permanently eliminating the marriage penalty. (Apr 2004)
Voted YES on making the Bush tax cuts permanent. (Apr 2002)
Voted NO on $99 B economic stimulus: capital gains & income tax cuts. (Oct 2001)
Voted YES on Tax cut package of $958 B over 10 years. (May 2001)
Voted YES on eliminating the Estate Tax (“death tax“). (Apr 2001)
Voted YES on eliminating the “marriage penalty”. (Jul 2000)
Voted YES on $46 billion in tax cuts for small business. (Mar 2000)
50-25-25 budget formula for debt-tax cuts-spending. (Feb 2001)
Phaseout the death tax. (Mar 2001)
Rated 27% by NTU, indicating a “Big Spender” on tax votes. (Dec 2003)
Rated 33% by CTJ, indicating a mixed record on progressive taxation. (Dec 2006)
This is a somewhat conservative record for a Democrat. By comparison here is the tax reform record for another so-called Blue Dog, Loretta Sanchez:
· Voted YES on extending AMT exemptions to avoid hitting middle-income. (Jun 2008)
· Voted YES on paying for AMT relief by closing offshore business loopholes. (Dec 2007)
· Voted NO on retaining reduced taxes on capital gains & dividends. (Dec 2005)
· Voted YES on providing tax relief and simplification. (Sep 2004)
· Voted NO on making permanent an increase in the child tax credit. (May 2004)
· Voted YES on permanently eliminating the marriage penalty. (Apr 2004)
· Voted NO on making the Bush tax cuts permanent. (Apr 2002)
· Voted NO on $99 B economic stimulus: capital gains & income tax cuts. (Oct 2001)
· Voted NO on Tax cut package of $958 B over 10 years. (May 2001)
· Voted YES on eliminating the Estate Tax (“death tax”). (Apr 2001)
· Voted NO on eliminating the “marriage penalty”. (Jul 2000)
· Voted YES on $46 billion in tax cuts for small business. (Mar 2000)
· 50-25-25 budget formula for debt-tax cuts-spending. (Feb 2001)
Rated 24% by NTU, indicating a “Big Spender” on tax votes. (Dec 2003)
Rated 83% by the CTJ, indicating support of progressive taxation. (Dec 2006)
This is a pretty liberal record. So Blue Dogs are all over the place.
As 2010 opens, there is a new trend emerging with some genuinely conservative Blue Dogs switching to the GOP starting with Alabama congressman Parker Griffith of Huntsville, normally as Democrat a district as you will find in Alabama.
Writing about the Blue Dogs’ prospects in the coming election year, Wood writes:
Of the 52 Blue Dogs, less than half (21) are considered safe… Some of these incumbents are veterans who are entrenched in their districts… Others, like six of the seven Californian Blue Dogs, hail from districts with a strong Democratic base that should ensure their reelection.
In fact, over a third of Blue Dogs hail from districts Obama won last November. While the coalition is often portrayed as a group of Southern congressmen who must vote conservatively or risk losing reelection, nineteen members represent districts Obama carried, with seven representing districts in which Obama won over 60 percent of the vote.
While some Blue Dogs will be sailing through the 2010 campaign, a few of their colleagues will be combatants in some of the fiercest races of the year. Already four Blue Dogs, Bobby Bright (AL-2), Walt Minnick (ID-1), Frank Kratovil (MD-1), and Travis Childers (MS-1), are in “toss-up” races. With candidates still jumping in and dangerous votes lurking, several more could be added to that designation in the coming months. (end of excerpt)
Visit ontheissues.org to track the votes of the current Blue Dogs listed here alphabetically. See for yourself what ‘Blue Dog’ really means:
Jason Altmire (PA-4), Mike Arcuri (NY-24), Joe Baca (CA-43) John Barrow (GA-12) Melissa Bean (IL-8), Robert Marion Berry (AR-1), Sanford Bishop ((GA-2), Dan Boren (OK-2), Leonard Boswell (IA-3), Allen Boyd (FL-2)Bobby Bright (AL-2), Dennis Cardoza (CA-18), Christopher Carney (PA-10, potential switcher to GOP), Ben Chandler (KY-6) Travis Childers (MS-1), Jim Cooper (TN-5), Jim Costa (CA-20) Henry Cuellar (TX-28) Kathy Dahlkemper (PA-3) Lincoln Davis (TN-4), Joe Donnelly (IN-2), Brad Ellsworth (IN-8), Bill Foster (IL-14) Gabrielle Giffords (AZ-8), Bart Gordon (TN-6), Jane Harman (CA-36) Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (SD-AL) Baron Hill (IN-9) Tim Holden (PA-17) Frank Kratovil (MD-1) Jim Marshall (GA-8) Jim Matheson (UT-2) Mike McIntyre (NC-7) Charlie Melancon (LA-3) Mike Michaud (ME-2) Walt Minnick (ID-1) Dennis Moore (KS-3) Patrick Murphy (PA-8) Glenn Nye (VA-2) Collin Peterson (MN-7) Earl Pomeroy (ND-AL) Mike Ross (AR-4) John Salazar (CO-3) Loretta Sanchez (CA-47) Adam Schiff (CA-29) David Scott (GA-13) Heath Shuler (NC-11) Zack Space (OH-18) John Tanner (TN-8) Gene Taylor (MS-4) Mike Thompson (CA-1), Charlie Wilson (OH-6)
Please visit my website at www.nikitas3.com for more. You can print out for free my book, Right Is Right, which explains why only conservatism can maintain our freedom and prosperity.