Fiscal Conservatism and Accountability
Although political views of the 52 Blue Dog Coalition members of the 111th Congress (2009-2010) range from conservative on hot-button social issues to progressive on trade and immigration, Blue Dog Democrats are strongly united on fiscal conservatism and accountability, budgetary matters and pro-business issues.
(See a list of Blue Dog Democrats at page two of this article.)Per the Blue Dog Coalition website, "The Coalition has been particularly active on fiscal issues, relentlessly pursuing a balanced budget and then protecting that achievement from politically popular 'raids' on the budget."
Conservative-leaning Newsmax.com observed in November 2008:
"The left may still be crowing about its resounding Election Day victory, but it’s the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats who are emerging as a significant force in the upcoming Congress.
"The influential Blue Dog coalition of House Democrats saw their ranks increase on Election Day, and they’re likely to gain even greater power on Capitol Hill... "
Angering Democratic Party Leaders
Indeed, Blue Dog unity on fiscal conservatism occasionally angers Democratic party leaders who expect partisan loyalty to the Democratic agenda over conservative fiscal ideology.
(See Will Blue Dogs Support Democratic or Republican Goals? for more.)
For instance, in early 2009, President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were reportedly not pleased when some Blue Dog Democrats voted against leadership's $718-billion stimulus package, as well as other massive spending and bailout measures.
The Wall Street Journal accurately predicted on January 16, 2009:
"... the way the Blue Dogs flex their muscle may become one of the defining issues of the Obama administration's opening months. If they are inclined to wrangle with Nancy Pelosi and the more liberal contingent in the Democratic Party, they will drive policy, especially as a check on spending."
Another notable example was in 2005 when Blue Dog members voted 32 to 3 to pare and limit bankruptcy protections, which was in opposition to the Democratic leadership agenda.
Brief History of the Blue Dog Democratic Coalition
The Blue Dog Coalition was founded in 1994 to provide a unified voice for moderate members of the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives, particularly on economic issues.
The term "Blue Dog" originated from the "blue dog" paintings of Louisiana artist George Rodrigue, whose art hung in the offices of several original members of the coalition.
The Blue Dog Coalition has frequently played the role of legislative mediator between Republicans and more liberal Democrats in the House.
During the bitter budget wars of late 2005, Blue Dogs passionately orated late into the night on Tuesdays, lamenting Republican-supported income tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans while the United States went ever-deeper into debt, and federal funding was cut significantly for education, basic health programs and benefits and healthcare for veterans.