By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog.
When President Obama takes his healthcare reform program to prime time TV tonight he had better be secretly hoping that his appeal to the American people to support him fails to sway public opinion in his favor. That, because not only have Blue Dog (conservative) Democrats discovered that his healthcare plan will push this country deeper into an already massive debt, but if health reform passes, Mr. Obama will have pushed those Blue Dogs out of office in 2010.
The Blue Dogs come from shaky, as opposed to safe Democratic districts, where a wrong step on federal spending or taxes could whisk them out of office easily. When the public starts to realize how much healthcare reform will raise taxes, they'll vent their anger on Blue Dogs first and foremost. That's why conservative Democrats are smart enough to run in the other direction when the president comes calling for support:
But the president's push to get bills through the House and Senate before the August recess appears on shaky ground, as Democrats are divided over some of the measures proposed in the bills currently circulating in the House and Senate.
There are 51 Blue Dogs in the U.S. House, a sizeable chunk of the Democratic majority. But it's a chunk that was essentially formed to help Democrats ditch the moniker of "tax and spend" former President Ronald Reagan so aptly hung around their necks:
The Blue Dog coalition formed in 1995 after Republicans gained control of Congress. Their name plays on the South's longtime moniker of party loyalists as "Yellow Dogs." Coalition members said they had been "choked blue" by liberal spending.
The Democratic Party gained control of the House after the 2006 elections and expanded its majority by 21 seats to 257 this year with victories in 2008, many in Republican-leaning areas. In the past two elections, the Blue Dogs gained 15 members.
President Obama needs to start listening more to the Blue Dogs.