Is Fiscal Democrat an Oxymoron?

Representatives Zack Space (D.-Ohio) and Baron Hill (D-Ind.) come from counties Midwesterners like to think of as the heartland of America. Their districts voted for McCain in 2008, and both are part of the self-styled fiscally responsible Democratic House caucus known as the Blue Dogs. The group’s members campaign — and win — on the theory that they don’t follow the liberal agendas on national security and government spending.

Yet in the past five months, these two fiscally responsible congressmen voted to increase your energy costs by $3,000 per household and triple the national debt in 10 years.

Go to the Blue Dogs’ website, and you’ll see a scary trillion-dollar figure off to the side — the U.S. national debt: $11,226,807,380,955.11. The 51 Blue Dogs, according to the site, are eager to fix the problem and have been “relentlessly pursuing a balanced budget.”

Hill and Space still voted for a budget which may triple that nightmare figure, even though a Republican group offered a budget proposal that actually balanced by 2019.

In an article from The Hill, one Blue Dog said the budget was “honest” because it incorporated war spending and that he thought the budget showed his group’s influence because “Blue Dogs had pressed budget writers to limit increases to spending on non-defense programs.”

But Obama’s budget, by the time it passed Congress, costs $3.4 trillion, and Congress is still considering passing a war supplemental bill.

Hill and Space didn’t stop there.

Both serve on a committee responsible for letting cap-and-trade legislation to come to the House floor. This highly controversial bill, known to some as Waxman-Markey, will cost $846 billion in additional energy taxes, according to a HUMAN EVENTS article by Connie Hair. The government will spend $821 billion of it, thereby only leaving $24 billion to reduce the deficit. These figures aren’t Democrat or Republican — they were put out by the Congressional Budget Office.

The Brookings Institute came out with a study that said cap-and-tax would cut employment by .5 % in the first decade.

It seems like common sense: why, in the middle of a recession, would you vote for something that raises taxes and unemployment, especially in your region?

Yet Hill and Space voted to pass the bill out of committee

Several amendments protecting you the consumer were offered during the committee debate: one prevented cap and trade from forcing gas prices above $5. Another suspended the legislation if the average retail electricity rates jumped more than 10% above 2009 numbers. Space voted for both, but Hill voted against them. Neither amendment passed.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) wanted to let you know how much Waxman-Markey will cost you each time you fill up their gas tank, pay an electric bill, or buy groceries. If her amendment had passed, the cost of following Waxman-Markey would be visible on every food label, gas pump, utility bill, or other manufactured product label. Both Space and Hill voted against this.

When it came to really protecting the American people’s checkbooks (or their jobs), neither Hill nor Space could do it.

What was so precious that Hill couldn’t vote against the Democrats, or for any of the common sense amendments? Hill comes from a state that will be hit hardest by cap and tax, since 96% of Indiana is powered by coal. Another Midwesterner, Indiana’s Mike Pence (R-Ind.), has characterized the Waxman-Markey bill as a “declaration of war” against the Midwest.

Hill claims he’s worked hard to make sure Southern Indiana is protected — he added language that helped make the “renewable electricity standard more attainable” for the state, according to a statement quoted by the New Albany Tribune. If he really wanted to protect Southern Indiana, he should have looked closer at the gas prices amendment. His rural district is notorious for inexplicably high gas prices. My parents, who live there, get frustrated every time they drive cross-country and realize how high prices are back home.

Space is facing his own coal problems. One of his district papers, The Athens News, reported that Space had to cosign a letter asking the federal government to quicken its review of over 100 coal mining permits, since parts of his district depend on a solid coal industry. Republicans had to offer several amendments to Waxman-Markey that kept the coal industry competitive, which means it’s not adequately protected under the current bill. None of the amendments to protect the industry — and which Space voted for — passed, yet Space still said ‘aye’ to the final product.

At least two Blue Dogs, Representatives John Barrow (Georgia) and Jim Matheson (Utah), voted against cap and trade in committee and against Obama’s budget proposal. Their votes don’t mean they were against a clean environment or against funding the United States of America, but that they were against doing it irresponsibly.

I was about to award them a title I’ve doubted before — ‘fiscal Democrat’ — but they failed to show in the first leg of this year’s fiscally responsible trifecta: voting against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which came with a multi-billion dollar price tag.

In nearly every marquis spending vote this year, there have been a few Blue Dogs who voted to cut off the spendaholics. Yet each representative’s inconsistency undercuts their group’s banner claim of fiscal responsibility. People will assume from my age that I know what a spending spree looks like, and Space and Hill’s second and fifth terms respectively look like one. That shouldn’t sit well in either Ohio or Indiana.

If there are any fiscal Democrats, please, stand up. Now is the time to be recognized.