Blue Dog Dems getting nervous about the balanced-budget amendment

posted at 1:25 pm on October 13, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

If Republicans want to push even more Democrats out of Congress next year, one Democrat has suggested a strategy to succeed. The Hill reports that Blue Dog Democrats have begun to worry that Republicans will win the 2012 debate by backing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, especially with an electorate so skeptical of government spending.  Rep. Henry Cuellar recommends that Democrats come up with their own BBA plan, and quickly:

Democrats in Congress are urging their party leaders to get behind a balanced-budget amendment (BBA), fearing that Republicans will use the issue as a political weapon in 2012.

President Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress have spoken out against the need for such a measure, but rank-and-file members claim they are falling into a GOP trap.

Instead of speaking out against balancing the budget, Obama and the Democratic leadership should embrace a centrist BBA measure, some Democrats say.

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), who introduced a proposal that gained support within the conservative Democratic Blue Dog Coalition, said he expects Republicans to use the BBA against Democrats on the campaign trail.

“Well, certainly if I was [the GOP], I would use this as a way of going after Democrats,” Cuellar said in an interview with The Hill. “And this is why the more centrist Blue Dogs have come out and done this.”

Cuellar’s correct about this, but he probably won’t get much traction from a leadership that wants to continue its deficit-spending spree.  Barack Obama has hinted that Congress just needs a little self-discipline, a rather laughable assertion from a President that has offered a series of budget proposals that ran more than a trillion dollars in the red.  Nancy Pelosi knows that Congress can’t hike taxes high enough to cover the deficit spending level that her leadership produced, and a BBA would require serious cuts in spending — including in entitlement programs.

That’s why the Democratic party leadership might pay a little lip service to the concept of a balanced budget, but won’t advance any proposals for it, at least not the current leadership.  That does leave Republicans with a wide opening to paint the Democrats as the party of deficit spending, as Cuellar fears, and we’re already seeing that strategy play out in the presidential race.  Practically every candidate has mentioned a BBA in the debates, some repeatedly, as a means to get spending under control.  Moreover, unlike a lot of economic and fiscal policies, the concept of a BBA isn’t so wonky as to escape understanding by voters.  The idea that people shouldn’t spend more than they have is a principle that at least informs their daily lives, even if the level of consumer debt shows that it doesn’t rule their lives.  Most people think government should have to live within its means, just like any other person or organization in the US.

If Cuellar can’t convince his party’s leadership that the days of wine and roses are over, then his party will lose significant ground once again in the next election — and that will likely produce a new set of party leaders that understand the prevailing mood of the electorate a little better than Obama and Pelosi.

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Bi(sexual)fi(ckle)dis(honest) go away please. I think I hear your mommy calling.

Special Forces Grunt on October 13, 2011 at 3:47 PM

It’d be a constitutional amendment and it’d have to be written in such a way that it’s not some sort of automatic tax increase.
lorien1973 on October 13, 2011 at 2:06 PM

Non-military spending limits, and even then you’ll have to be careful of congress passing things crest up in uniform.

Count to 10 on October 13, 2011 at 3:49 PM

The angry left hates Henry Cuellar anyway, for running against Ciro Rodriguez and beating him in the 2004 Democratic Primary for the CD-28 in Texas, and spent millions unsuccessfully to defeat him in 2006. They were also mad at him because some guy named Rick Perry appointed him Texas Secretary of State in 2001, just after he took over from George W. Bush (hey, how’d that appointment not get into the GOP debate topic pool yet?)

So outside of a call for fiscal responsibility by Joe Lieberman, Cuellar’s about the last person the other 99 percent of the Democratic Party is going to listen to on fiscal matters.

jon1979 on October 13, 2011 at 4:35 PM

If Cuellar can’t convince his party’s leadership that the days of wine and roses are over, then his party will lose significant ground once again in the next election — and that will likely produce a new set of party leaders that understand the prevailing mood of the electorate a little better than Obama and Pelosi.

I doubt it. More Democratic losses will come from marginal seats held by moderates. The hardcore liberals and progressives are in safe seats, so they’ll be even more dominant in the caucus after the election. Even if they replace Pelosi, it will be with another Lefty.

The Democratic Party is no longer a liberal party, at least at its leadership levels: it is a Social Democratic party with strong Socialist leanings.

irishspy on October 13, 2011 at 5:50 PM

Update: Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-RepublicansSuck) introduces the Balanced Budgie Act of 2011, which calls for balancing the budget entirely via spending cuts not later than December 31, 3015.

When asked whether the date was a typo, Ms. Pelosi just smiled.

Paul_in_NJ on October 13, 2011 at 8:59 PM

This dipsh!t troll named Bif sounds an awful lot like growfins. Definitely has the same low IQ.

Sporty1946 on October 14, 2011 at 1:01 AM

Hey bifdis, see that LARGE percent who cares about the economy and jobs? A BBA would solve a lot of those problems.

You see, those of us who actually learned some basic economics know that unstable government is bad for business. As is high taxes to cover all that spending.

What is also bad is government money spread around choking out business for the private sector. As Obama is probably your idol I know you don’t believe this.

Obama doesn’t believe it either but REALITY apparently does believe it….

DavidM on October 14, 2011 at 9:43 AM

This is exactly the same as the stunts the Palestinians would pull off in front of the cameras during their own “protests”- faking injuries that seem shocking and believable in several second clips to be sent out in various international TV spots, yet are obviously staged when seen in full:


sartana on October 14, 2011 at 2:28 PM

Comment pages: 1 2