Meet Your New Blue Dog Overlords

If eight more Blue Dogs had crossed over and voted against the stimulus, it would have failed.

Of the 27 Democrats who voted with the Republicans to oppose Obama's stimulus bill, 21 were Blue Dogs:


But according to Democratic leadership sources, the number was almost much higher -- and could have been high enough to hand the Republicans a monumental victory -- had it not been for a letter from President Obama’s budget director Peter Orszag.

The letter, addressed to House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., promised to return to "pay-as-you-go budgeting," and stressed that the stimulus was an "extraordinary response to an extraordinary process" and thus subject to different rules.

"It should not be seen as an opportunity to abandon the fiscal discipline that we owe each and every taxpayer in spending their money -- and that is critical to keeping the United States strong in a global, interdependent economy," the letter stated.

Orszag also emphasized Obama’s support for paying for any temporary tax cuts in the stimulus that he would like to make permanent. The budget director said Obama would detail those offsets in his budget.

"Moving forward, we need to return to the fiscal responsibility and pay-as-you-go budgeting that we had in the 1990s for all non-emergency measures," Orszag wrote. "The president and his economic team look forward to working with the Congress to develop budget-enforcement rules that are based on the tools that helped create the surpluses of a decade ago."

A commitment to "paygo" right now is problematic for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that it could doom any meaningful health care legislation. But the fact that Obama was forced to kneel to Blue Dog demands is as clear an example as I can think of about something we've been saying for a long time -- the Blue Dogs now hold the power in the House to either join with Republicans or Democrats and control what legislation gets passed. If eight more Blue Dogs had crossed over and voted against the bill, it would have failed.

Jane Hamsher is the founder of FireDogLake. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and the American Prospect.
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