“Blue Dog Democrats” — a formal group of 52 House members — premise their campaigns on the idea that they are moderate or conservative and are independent of the liberal leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md).
But are they?
The official “Blue Dogs” website states that 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.” But since the beginning of this congressional session — which has spent more tax dollars than any other in the history of the United States — it’s been hard to see how valid — if at all — their claims to fiscal conservatism are.
Recently much attention has been focused on the Blue Dogs’ opposition to the Democratic leadership’s sweeping healthcare proposals, highlighting the power the group holds when voting as a block. If they remain true to their word they have the power to defeat President Obama’s expensive healthcare overhaul.
But will they? A number of organizations — ranging from the American Conservative Union to the ACLU — score the voting records of all members of congress. But no one has so far scored the Blue Dogs against their claims to conservatism. We decided to do just that.
With help from the Heritage Foundation and a variety of Congressional Republican staffers HUMAN EVENTS picked 16 of the most important votes from the 111th Congress and examined how the Blue Dogs voted using Democrat House Majority Leader Hoyer as a benchmark (Rep. Nancy Pelosi — because she is House Speaker — often does not vote except when her vote might be decisive. With the large Dem majority in the House, that’s not very often).
When calculating 16 of the most important votes so far in the 111th Congress of the 52 members in the Blue Dog Coalition 78% have voted in lockstep with ultra liberal Rep. Steny Hoyer.
Vote 16 HR 2: State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) The passage of SCHIP was the beginning of increased government interference in healthcare. SCHIP increased the cost of tobacco products in order to offset the $35 billion dollar expansion. The Washington Post reported that GOP critics said the “proposals will slow the economy, dramatically increase the deficit and make health care worse for the millions who already have insurance.” 96% of all Blue Dogs, voted for the expansion with Hoyer, only two members of the coalition voted against it.
HR 384: Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) — Set conditions for using the second $350 billion of the $700 billion TARP bailout provided to failing banks, insurers, and automakers that included huge amounts of money spend on localized projects that had little to do with the failing economy (pork barrel spending). 82% of all Blue Dogs voted with Hoyer for the bailout
HR 1: Economic Stimulus $787 billion spending package (the largest in US history) said to restore the ailing economy. Not one House Republican voted for the bill. 80% of all Blue Dogs voted with Hoyer for the spending package.
HR 1: Economic Stimulus — Substitute Republican alternative to stimulus package that pushed for economical growth by way of investments rather than taxation. 96% of all Blue Dogs voted with Hoyer against the substitute. Only two voted for the Republican substitute Walt Minnick (Id-01) and Travis Childers (Ms-01).
HR 1105: Fiscal 2009 Omnibus Appropriations This $410 billion bill passed with over 8,500 earmarks. 69% of all Blue Dogs, voted with Hoyer for this bill.
HR 1106: Mortgage Loans Modification Passage of this bill gave bankruptcy courts the authority to modify the terms or reduce the principal balance of a homeowner’s mortgage, while protecting lenders from investors when loan terms are altered. It increased the number of people eligible to file for bankruptcy and permitted homeowners to file bankruptcy if the current value of their home is less than the amount owed on it. By doing this more banks would be in trouble and banks would have affectively lost their ability to write and have borrowers keep the terms of their loans. 68% of Blue Dogs voting, voted with Hoyer.
H Con Res 85: Fiscal 2010 Budget Resolution Obama’s $3.6 trillion budget included large tax increases on small businesses, proposed a $646 billion dollar tax on families through “Cap and Trade” legislation, and a resurrection of the Death Tax. Again not one House Republican voted for the bill. 73% of Blue Dogs voting, voted with Hoyer.
H Con Res 85: Fiscal 2010 Budget Resolution – Substitute Led by ranking Republican of the House Budgetary Committee, Paul Ryan (R.-Wi.), a Republican alternative to Obama’s budget suggested major policy changes to the Congress. Aimed heavily at tax reform, calling for a reduction in the corporate tax rate from 35 to 25%, keeping federal spending at the pre-recession level of slightly above 20% of the GDP and proposing a moratorium on earmarks. Overall, this alternative would have resulted in $23,000 less in debt per household than President Obama’s budget. 100% of Blue Dogs voting, voted with Hoyer against the fiscally conservative Republican substitute.
HR 1913: Hate Crimes Prosecution Passage of this bill expanded federal hate crimes law to cover those based on sexual orientation, gender identity or disability and in doing so put freedom of speech and religion at risk. 68% of Blue Dogs voting, voted with Hoyer.
HR 2847: Fiscal 2010 Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations More dramatic increases in spending. CQ.com reported the bill “would appropriate $64.5 billion in fiscal 2010 for the departments of Commerce and Justice and other agencies such as NASA and the National Science Foundation. It would provide $27.7 billion for the Justice Department and $13.8 billion for the Commerce Department. It would appropriate $7.9 billion for the FBI and $6.2 billion for the federal prison system. The bill would fund NASA at $18.2 billion, the National Science Foundation at $6.9 billion and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at $4.6 billion.” Rep. Steven King (Rep.-Iowa) tried to introduce an amendment that would have cut ACORN out of the 2010 Census. This would have prevented taxpayer dollars from being allocated to ACORN After Obama hired the organization to “partner” with the 2010 Census Bureau. 89% of Blue Dogs voting, voted with Hoyer
HR 2996: Fiscal 2010 Interior-Environment Appropriations More dramatic increases in spending. The bill represents a 17% increase over the spending from the 2009 bill and a 38% increase of federal funding for the Environmental Protection Agency. Combined with the stimulus, the EPA will receive $25 billion this year. Of the 105 amendments offered to the bill, mostly dealing with cutting specific extraneous costs, only 13 were approved after being neglected by the Democratic House Rules Committee. 78% of Blue Dogs voting, voted with Hoyer
HR 2454: Greenhouse Gas Emissions (Cap and Trade) In 2012 when the 1,200-page bill is enacted, for a household of four, energy costs go up $436 and reach $1,241 in 2035, averaging $829 annually over that span, cites a Heritage Foundation study. Between 2012 and 2035 over a million jobs will be lost. GDP will be reduced by an average $393 billion per annum between 2012 and 2035, totaling $9.4 trillion. Low-income households would be hit hardest by Cap and Trade, because they use a greater proportion of energy. 44% of all Blue Dogs voted with Hoyer.
HR 2997: Fiscal 2010 Agriculture Appropriations This bill represents a $2.436 billion or 11.9% increase over 2009 spending. Republicans offered an amendment that would have represented only a 2% increase in spending, but this was rejected along party lines. The bill contains 320 earmarks, totaling $225 million. Compared to 4 years ago, the FDA will receive a 54% increase in federal funding. The FDA will receive $3.04 billion for FY 2010. All Republicans voted in opposition. 88% of all Blue Dogs voted with Hoyer.
HR 3081: Fiscal 2010 State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Of all the appropriations bills, HR 3081 represents the biggest increase in spending from FY 2009. This bill entails total spending of $48.8 billion, $12.2 billion, or 33% increase over spending in 2009. The cost for the average family is $460.54. Agencies funded through HR 3081 also received $4.2 billion in stimulus handouts and $14.7 billion from the Supplemental War Funding bill. From FY 2007 to 2009, non-defense spending increased 85%. According to gop.gov, $26.2 billion funding for the Department of State includes “the civilian stabilization initiative, educational and cultural exchange programs, embassy protection and security, overseas peacekeeping, contributions to international organizations (such as the United Nations), international commissions, and broadcasting activities.” 90% of all Blue Dogs voted with Hoyer.
HR 3170: Fiscal 2010 Financial Services Appropriations This bill barely passed in the House needing 215 votes — just squeaking by with 219. It allocates $24.15 billion in discretionary spending in addition to the stimulus bill total. Agencies receiving money from this bill will rack in $29.7 billion. Overall, the bill contains 150 earmarks and will cost the average family $448.19. 57% of all Blue Dogs voted with Hoyer.
HR 3183: Fiscal 2010 Energy-Water Appropriations This bill allocates $33.3 billion in discretionary spending, or less than 1% above the FY 2009 level. But agencies receiving funds through HR 3183 already received $58.7 in emergency spending, mostly from the stimulus bill, totaling $92 billion. Will cost the average family $413.57. An amendment for a 5% cut across the board was rejected. 94% of all Blue Dogs voting, voted with Hoyer.
Again, in these 16 important votes in the 111th Congress, Blue Dogs have voted for the Democratic agenda 78% of the time.
The Blue Dogs have to answer to the voters for their record of fiscal irresponsibility which doesn’t match their promises. They have an opportunity coming to redeem themselves — at least in part — by standing strong against Obama’s expensive (and expansive) nationalization of health care.
In the past — in the “Cap and Trade” committee vote, for example — the Blue Dogs quickly bowed to pressure by liberal Committee Chairman Henry Waxman and voted for the bill. Should they choose to once again bow to their leadership — and vote for government run healthcare that is so expensive and complex that it would change the role of the federal government forever — they should have to answer to their constituents. And they should also rethink their “Blue Dog” label.
Human Events interns Kathryn Gaines and Teo Molin contributed to this article