Paul Krugman offers one of the best analyses of how the Blue Dogs operate and how incoherent their objections to healthcare reform are. It’s rare that politicians policy statements, especially conservative ones, are evaluated next to each other. The words “fiscal responsibility” are adeptly wielded by Blue Dogs and, generally speaking, the press allows them cover behind them. But Krugman doesn’t.
Well, they talk a lot about fiscal responsibility, which basically boils down to worrying about the cost of those subsidies. And it’s tempting to stop right there, and cry foul. After all, where were those concerns about fiscal responsibility back in 2001, when most conservative Democrats voted enthusiastically for that year’s big Bush tax cut — a tax cut that added $1.35 trillion to the deficit?
But it’s actually much worse than that — because even as they complain about the plan’s cost, the Blue Dogs are making demands that would greatly increase that cost.
There’s much more beyond that, but you get the idea. It’s a truth-telling session. Hopefully many officials in the administration, Senate leadership, and the House read Krugman’s piece and see the need to pressure Blue Dogs to stay with the party line.
More importantly, hopefully other journalists see Krugman’s column and begin to question Blue Dogs who cry fiscal responsibility while pushing for policy measures that will make healthcare reform legislation substantially more expensive. Right now the debate is being dominated by people who aren’t making any sense. And yet they’re holding the House Energy and Commerce Committee hostage, while the Finance Committee in the Senate continues to stall. Together, incoherent conservative Democratic legislator are stopping reform and killing momementum for change.
It’s not as if these legislators aren’t hearing from their constituents that they should support meaningful reform, including a public option. MoveOn, Healthcare for Amerian Now, SEIU, and Organizing for America, among others, have been driving hundreds of thousands of legislative contacts in support of reform. But as Krugman points out, these Blue Dogs are more loyal to their corporate donors and caucus self-interest than their constituents.
Another sure way for the Blue Dogs to lose their influence in this process is if the Progressive Caucus came together to make themselves a comparable obstacle to any legislation that isn’t suitably aggressive in driving reform. Given a counterweight, the Blue Dogs would no longer control the narrative nor the legislative process. This requires a stronger push from progressives to define their lines in the sand…and for a simultaneous effort to let leadership know that they have to make a choice between defending Blue Dogs while getting no meaningful change and defending progressives while achieving landmark reform. The choice shouldn’t be hard, but you never know with today’s Democrats.