Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Blue Dogs to the Rescue?

Since the so-called “Blue Dogs” will determine whether or not Obamacare will pass, I thought shedding some light on the Blue Dog Coalition would be instructive.

Descendents of the now defunct Southern Democrats, aka Boll Weevils and Dixiecrats of old, the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition membership currently numbers 52 moderate-to-conservative Democrats whose ideology pretty much mirrors that of the more conservative wing of the Democratic Party during the Truman and Kennedy years.

Fiscally conservative and relatively divergent on social issues, and often attacked from the left as Democrats-in-Name-Only, Coalition members generally tend to strongly support gun rights, warrantless wiretapping, pro-life, immigration control, business, and welfare spending limitations. However, on trade, labor unions and protectionism there are widely varying policy positions.

Principally financed by the health care industry ($1.2 million in 2009-2010 election cycle), Blue Dogs are most certainly pivotal in the current healthcare hullabaloo on the Hill. The truth is that the legislative success or failure of Obamacare probably falls squarely on Blue Dog shoulders. How each of them ultimately votes, of course, is anyone’s guess.

If it’s any comfort to the right, the Heritage Foundation quotes the official Blue Dog health care policy as follows: “The Blue Dog Coalition strongly supports health care reform that lowers costs for families and small businesses, increases choice and competition, and allows individuals to keep their doctor. We are concerned, however, about a Medicare-like public option and its ability to achieve all of the benefits put forth by its proponents. How a public option is constructed and allowed to compete are critically important to ensuring families have the ability to keep their current health coverage and continue to see the doctor of their choice.”

Clearly, the Coalition’s relatively conservative healthcare approach is considerably at odds with the New Democrats and the Progressive Coalition whose leaders are wasting little time courting, cajoling and, yes, buying them off with deficit dollars. So, for those on the right who oppose Obamacare, take heart. There may yet be hope for healthcare sanity.

FYI, only Rep. Acuri (NY-24) is a member of the Coalition.

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