The Washington Post

Fiscal folly from Blue Dog Dems

You’ll be shocked to hear the Blue Dog Democrats in the House of Representatives endorsed the idea of a Balanced Budget Amendment today.

House Republicans have scheduled the vote on the BBA for Friday, and the Blue Dogs, who are down to 25, broke with Dems to support the GOP idea. Republicans and Blue Dogs still almost certainly don’t have enough combined votes to get the two-thirds required for a Constitutional amendment. It would need 30 other Democrats to pass, something which seems possible but unlikely.

By endorsing the BBA, Blue Dogs confirmed yet again that they spend most of their time doing is jumping at their own shadows — or desperately trying to avoid anything that could draw Republican criticism. They’re for anything they think might help them avoid electoral trouble.

The BBA is a terrible idea — even if your goal is to balance the budget. That’s because procedural gimmicks don’t balance budgets. Only spending cuts or tax increases or both can achieve that goal. If Members of Congress doesn’t want to balance the budget, as they haven’t for the last decade, they won’t, regardless of what laws or even Constitutional structures they erect to tell themselves to do it.

Or, alternatively, imagine if a BBA were enforced by the courts. Do we really want to see court-imposed spending cuts and tax increases?

Endorsing a BBA is even more nuts coming from Blue Dogs than it is coming from Congressional Republicans. As the 2010 elections demonstrated quite effectively, in the long run Blue Dogs are Democrats and they’re tied to the national performance of the Democratic Party. Not even endorsing the BBA can change this. Republicans will still criticize Blue Dogs as fiscal profligates, despite their endorsement of the BBA, because that’s what political parties do in elections, and there’s really no way to avoid it.

If Blue Dogs really believe in balancing the budget, here’s an idea: They should name some taxes they want to raise and/or spending they want to cut.


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