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Blue Dogs Draw Straws

By Robert Romano

The Blue Dog Democrats claim they have 40 members who are at least hesitant to vote in favor of government-run health care. That would be enough to kill the legislation currently being proposed in the House that will effectively take away private health care options from the American people.

At the very least, the alleged Blue Dog opposition would be enough to slow the bill down, making it much more likely that it will eventually be killed. But now with breaking news that the proposal is to be unveiled today, it is hard to believe that the Blue Dogs are doing anything but howling at the moon.

The truth is, the Blue Dogs have to prove that they're not just drawing straws to see who gets to vote against the proposal in order to cover themselves on a bill they already know is likely to pass. In everything from the trillion-dollar “stimulus” to the Waxman-Markey climate change bill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not lost an important vote all year long, despite occasional Blue Dog bleating of discontent.

A large part of the reason for this is that the so-called “conservative” Democrats—the self-proclaimed Blue Dogs—always seem to come up just shy of the votes needed to block the House Majority's Big Government agenda.

The fact is, the Blue Dogs look more like lap dogs, yelping in protest—while willingly heeling in submission to the House Speaker's adjustable leash.

So now, to quote Blue Dog icon John F. Kennedy, “sincerity is always subject to proof.”

On Thursday, 40 members of the House Blue Dog Democrats caucus issued a letter against proposed legislation that would forever socialize the nation's health system. A list of the 40 House members can be viewed here.

Congressman Mike Ross (AR-CD4), chairman of the Blue Dog Health Care Task Force, stated that if the House Majority brings their bill to the floor as proposed, an “overwhelming majority” of his 52 member coalition would vote against it.

In the letter sent by 40 members of the Blue Dog coalition in the House of Representatives, members demanded that any House proposal on health care be deficit-neutral, protect small businesses, and that the legislation “must be available to all Members and the public for a sufficient amount of time before we are asked to vote for it.”

The letter also required that “sufficient time” would be needed for “any amendments or changes to the bill” stating that “We need time to review it and discuss it with our constituents. Too short of a review period is unacceptable and only undermines Congress' ability to pass responsible health care reform that works for all Americans.”

The Blue Dogs' letter hardly put a damper on Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer's plans ram the bill down the throats of the American people with its expected introduction today. House leadership had wanted to unveil the legislation last Friday, get it out of committee this week, and have it on Barack Obama's desk in time for the August recess.

So, the Blue Dog baying apparently had little effect—and now Nancy Pelosi apparently has the legislation back on schedule.

But, even with the slight delay—while the Blue Dogs “negotiated” with Democrat leadership and Barack Obama eve talked about delaying the August recess—there is every reason to believe that now that an apparent compromise has been worked out that the House is simply returning to the frightening, lightning pace that it has been moving legislation into law.

For example, the Waxman-Markey energy tax legislation was introduced on May 15th of this year, discharged by the relevant committees on June 19th, and passed on June 26th.

The final version was 1,428 pages long, and it's clear nobody read it before they voted on it. Because they couldn't. A 300-page amendment was proposed at 3:47AM in the morning on June 26th, which was approved by 11:22AM, leaving no time for the amended version to be distributed when the final vote occurred later that same day at 7:17PM.

So, no wonder the Blue Dogs would want to pretend they are dragging their heels at least a little on socialized medicine.

“We need to slow down and do it right,” said Congressman Ross. Or better yet, Mr. Ross, not at all.

The fact is, nobody is going to believe that the “fiscal conservative” Blue Dog Democrats stand for anything if they cannot, in fact, stop anything. Now, more than ever, they have a high-profile chance to prove to their constituents whether their bite is as good as their bark—or whether they've just been dogging it all along.

Robert Romano is the Senior News Editor of ALG News Bureau. 


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