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Conservative Democrats Could Derail the Democratic Agenda

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The Democrats have a chance to accomplish goals they’ve dreamed about since the New Deal. They have 60 seats in the Senate, and a commanding advantage in the House of Representatives. So if they fail to pass certain legislation, Republicans won’t be to blame; Democrats will.

This is particularly true for health care reform. Blue dog Mike Ross of Arkansas wrote “the Blue Dogs are committed to passing health care reform. However, reform that does not meet the President's goals of substantially bringing down costs is not an option.” In the Senate, moderates like Evan Bayh, Mary Landrieu, and Kent Conrad are wary of providing a public option, or voting for such a large bill.

Many of these Democrats have already expressed reservation about spending in the past few months. Bayh, for his part, said Obama’s first budget “represents an improvement from years past … [because] money we will borrow will fund important priorities like affordable health care, energy independence, job creation, and education improvements, rather than tax cuts for the most affluent.” But Bayh could not support it because “under this budget, our national debt skyrockets from $11.1 trillion today to an estimated $17 trillion in 2014.”

Early on, there was even some Democratic opposition to the stimulus. Eleven Democrats (including six blue dogs) voted against the final bill, citing concerns over cost. These concerns have become a recurrent theme as congress contemplated various spending measures.

With a huge deficit already, it’s difficult not to share their reservations about adding still more. Their concerns were bolstered this month when the CBO said the House bill would add $230 billion to the budget deficit over 10 years.

Of course, there are political calculations at play as well. Many of the Democrats raising concerns come from conservative districts and states that voted for McCain last fall. Their conservative-leaning constituents are concerned about the deficit. Voting for such a large bill could give their opponents an issue to use against them in the 2010 midterm elections.

For its part, the Democratic leadership is in a bind. They can try to cajole these Democrats into voting for the health reform bill by threatening to withhold pork or fundraising. But failing to support Democrats in these vulnerable districts could result in the election of a conservative Republican. Perhaps it’s better to have a Democrat with you 80% of the time, than a Republican who’s never with you, the leadership will reason.

This is not an insignificant development. Blue Dogs hold 52 seats in the Democratic caucus. Moderate Democrats hold the balance of power in the Senate. If even one moderate votes to allow a filibuster, then the Democrats cannot invoke cloture. Something tells me that the Democratic leadership will end up making substantial concessions to this group to keep them all on board.

Reid and Pelosi will do that to avoid a repeat of the 1990s failure. That time, Democrats failed to coalesce behind a single plan. When combined with universal Republican opposition, that fact doomed prospects for reform.

It would truly be disheartening for Democrats, if after so many so many years in the wilderness, they squander the huge mandate they now have because they can’t unite behind a bill. Expect conservative Democrats to hear this refrain often in the coming weeks, as the debate over health care reform intensifies.

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About Marcus Alexander Gadson

  • Baronius

    Let me rephrase that: Lamar Alexander has wanted the presidency in the past. He’s shown no interest in it recently. But the guy’s been a governor, senator, and cabinet official. Under the Republican Order of Succession, he could easily challenge Romney.

  • The only one out of the 2008 crop that would be viable is Mitt Romney. He’s obviously not a right wing christian fundy and his knowledge of economics and business is second to none.

    I beg to differ. As a former subject of Romney when he was governor in Massachusetts, I can tell you I was never impressed. He’s a carpetbagger. He was searching for a state to govern to launch his bid for the White House and Jane Swift was the logical target. What he did to her would have been unforgivable in Reagan politics. Jane Swift is a good woman who did an admirable job under the most stressful of situations. She would have served the Commonwealth even more had Romney and his henchmen chose another state to play with.

    While Romney was governor, his Lieutenant was in charge more often than not. And when it became her rightful turn at the helm, Romney was too busy running for President to give her the support she deserved. As a result we got stuck with Deval Patrick who sold his soul to the unions and big business to gain the job. Now the unions hate him and his ratings are falling faster than the stock market. Unfortunately for us in Massachusetts, there remains no viable candidate for governor in either party. Our last best hope may be Joe Kennedy but somehow I don’t think he’s got the stomach for it.

  • Baronius

    Arch, I know you’re a big supporter of Romney, but what is he doing these days? Huckabee has a TV show, and Palin should be able to find podiums without a problem.

    I also suspect that there will be a new crop of candidates from the Senate. Kyl’s in the leadership, and serves on the Judiciary and Finance committees. He can’t help getting attention. President Obama elevated Gregg to national attention as a budget-cutter, and he serves on a couple of key committees. Thune’s bright, and Alexander sure wants the presidency. My point is, with so few party spokesmen, one set of hearings could turn an obscure senator into a viable national candidate.

  • Arch Conservative

    “She knows what she’s doing and behind that, I believe, is her desire to get back at the very people who did her father in back in 2000.”

    Yes and there are many in the party that would love to pay him back for what he did to us in 2008. He’s not a moderate. He’s a schizophrenic and his daughter will have about as much pull in GOP politics as you or I have Silas.

    Palin is the last person the GOP should nominate in 2012. Her role should never be allowed to go beyond GOP cheerleader/attack dog.

    The only one out of the 2008 crop that would be viable is Mitt Romney. He’s obviously not a right wing christian fundy and his knowledge of economics and business is second to none. By 2012 the damage Obama’s policies have wrought will be the impetus for the American people to be saying “anybody but Barry.”

  • Baronius, the convention next year for the GOP will be robust and contentious. There’s a storm brewing on the horizon and if President Obama falters going into the election cycle, GOP moderates will be more poised to wrestle the party back.

    Colin Powell remains Republican. If he sees a shift at the GOP core he could very well influence the party going forward. John McCain’s daughter is another to watch. She may be young but she’s savvy. She knows what she’s doing and behind that, I believe, is her desire to get back at the very people who did her father in back in 2000.

    John McCain runs for reelection next year. His major opponent, Janet Napolitano, has been neutralized by Obama. Don’t kid yourself. It’s obvious that there’s politics at play here. Should John McCain win, it will be his last term. That makes him ever so dangerous the to the far right.

    While I don’t rule Sarah Palin out, it’s obvious that after 2010, her star will fade to black as she doesn’t have the stamina to maintain a grueling pace. I predict that the GOP will make gains in the elections next year; however, it will not be ultra conservative Republicans who prevail. Their day has passed and it is time for them to pass the torch to a new generation of GOP leadership. Extremism, on both sides of the aisle, will be rejected by the voters next year.

  • Baronius

    Silas, without rehashing the same old arguments here, I don’t think a pro-choice candidate can get the GOP nomination.

    More to the point, I don’t think that McCain’s loss was seen as a failure of the far right. The 2008 election was hawk vs. dove, but not particularly left vs. right. If the 2010 battle cry is “take back the country” then the right-wing will be in control going into the presidential primaries. If the cry is “reasonable spending”, then moderates will be well-positioned.

    If the ’10 and ’12 elections are successes for Republicans, the surviving blue dogs will be sorely tempted to switch parties.

  • I had a very interesting conversation with a GOP operative yesterday and he presented an interesting scenario. He seems to think that if the GOP makes gains in 2010 elections there will emerge a new candidate for the GOP. Granted, the candidate will be 75 and would be 80 at the end of his term. The candidate would run for one term right from the starting gate. The candidate would run on a platform of change, pledging to work 4 tireless years to bring real change to the political landscape. The candidate would be viable, intelligent and provide much food for thought especially in one-on-one debates with President Obama. And that candidiate is… Colin Powell.

  • The polls are certainly saying that. The fact that Obama remains popular while his policies are plunging in the polls is very significant. Without his personal popularity how much less popular would ideas like cap and trade and this healthcare plan be?


  • Arch Conservative

    I have just one question for you [Edited] singing the praises of government run healthcare.

    If Obama is such a great leader, the plan is so great, and the Dems have the House Senate and White House, why can’t they get it done?

    It seems to me that all they’d have to do is put a little pressure on a few blue dogs and then pull the trigger but they haven’t done this yet. Why not?

    Could it be that they know the American people don’t want what they’re selling?

  • Doug Hunter

    “Jacksmith, we have the 37th BEST system”

    Not really. The method used to determine the best highly weights whether the system is socialist to begin with. That’s not a measure of quality, that’s a measure of whether or nto you have a socialist healthcare system and is simply propaganda put out by an organization that is already to the left of us.

    Second, our longevity is not a great as others because of ethnic diversity (minorities tend to have lower lifespan) and obesity (fat women have preemies and birthing complications bringing down infant mortality). Unless you count immigration policy and eating/working habits as part of ‘healthcare’ then it’s difficult to make a comparison. For instance, many non-ethnically diverse US states rank very high for longevity and overall health outcomes using the same bad, evil, capitalist, system.

    With socialized care instead of being rationed by who has contributed the most to society and therefore has earned the credits (money) to pay for services, you’re prioritized first come, first serve and subject to dying on a waiting list. Many health conditions that require immediate diagnosis and treatment have much higher death rates in socialist systems.

    Our system may kill some because they choose not to prioritize paying for healthcare, but any other system will choose to kill someone else for some other cause, wait times, etc. (the bleeding heart morons just don’t get their panties in a wad when it’s the government doing the killing, just private companies)

    It is absolute lying idiocy that our system, where doctors already treat patients in a cattle call impersonal way, that we can just simply absorb 40 million new patients and everyone who already responsibly has care will get the exact same quality treatment (and the idea that it will cost less is even more far fetched).

    There are alot of great reasons to support healthcare for everyone, even those slugs who refuse to contribute anything back to society, but lying and painting socialized medicine as some utopia where you get more, better quality, for more people, with less money is just a farce. The costs aren’t just monetary to today’s producers, we will receive watered down care any way you look at it. I will be more likely to die (up to 40% more from common cancers if other socialized countries are any indication) under the new system. That, plus gobs of money, is what I will be sacrificing for universal healthcare. What are you rabid supporters giving up?

  • Nails

    Mel Martinez announced months ago he would not stand for re-election.

    You don’t know jack shit, jacksmith.

  • Jacksmith, we have the 37th BEST system, not worst. The 37th worst country for healthcare has no healthcare system at all. Despite all our shortcomings we’re still in the top quarter.

    Most of the rest of what you post is also based on misinformation. Take some time. Read this healthcare plan. It will make things worse, not better.


  • jacksmith


    We have the 37th worst quality of healthcare in the developed world. Conservative estimates are that over 120,000 of you dies each year in America from treatable illness that people in other developed countries don’t die from. Rich, middle class, and poor a like. Insured and uninsured. Men, women, children, and babies. This is what being 37th in quality of healthcare means.

    I know that many of you are angry and frustrated that REPUBLICANS! In congress are dragging their feet and trying to block TRUE healthcare reform. What republicans want is just a taxpayer bailout of the DISGRACEFUL GREED DRIVEN PRIVATE FOR PROFIT health insurance industry, and the DISGRACEFUL GREED DRIVEN PRIVATE FOR PROFIT healthcare industry. A trillion dollar taxpayer funded private health insurance bailout is all you really get without a robust government-run public option available on day one.


    These industries have been slaughtering you and your loved ones like cattle for decades for profit. Including members of congress and their families. These REPUBLICANS are FOOLS!

    Republicans and their traitorous allies have been trying to make it look like it’s President Obama’s fault for the delays, and foot dragging. But I think you all know better than that. President Obama inherited one of the worst government catastrophes in American history from these REPUBLICANS! And President Obama has done a brilliant job of turning things around, and working his heart out for all of us.

    But Republicans think you are just a bunch of stupid, idiot, cash cows with short memories. Just like they did under the Bush administration when they helped Bush and Cheney rape America and the rest of the World.

    But you don’t have to put up with that. And this is what you can do. The Republicans below will be up for reelection on November 2, 2010. Just a little over 13 months from now. And many of you will be able to vote early. So pick some names and tell their voters that their representatives (by name) are obstructing TRUE healthcare reform. And are sellouts to the insurance and medical lobbyist.

    Ask them to contact their representatives and tell them that they are going to work to throw them out of office on November 2, 2010, if not before by impeachment, or recall elections. Doing this will give you something more to do to make things better in America. And it will help you feel better too.

    There are many resources on the internet that can help you find people to call and contact. For example, many social networking sites can be searched by state, city, or University. Be inventive and creative. I can think of many ways to do this. But be nice. These are your neighbors. And most will want to help.

    I know there are a few democrats that have been trying to obstruct TRUE healthcare reform too. But the main problem is the Bush Republicans. Removing them is the best thing tactically to do. On the other hand. If you can easily replace a democrat obstructionist with a supportive democrat, DO IT!

    You have been AMAZING!!! my people. Don’t loose heart. You knew it wasn’t going to be easy saving the World. 🙂

    God Bless You

    jacksmith — Working Class


    Republican Senators up for re-election in 2010.

    * Richard Shelby of Alabama
    * Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
    * John McCain of Arizona
    * Mel Martinez of Florida
    * Johnny Isakson of Georgia
    * Mike Crapo of Idaho
    * Chuck Grassley of Iowa
    * Sam Brownback of Kansas
    * Jim Bunning of Kentucky
    * David Vitter of Louisiana
    * Kit Bond of Missouri
    * Judd Gregg of New Hampshire
    * Richard Burr of North Carolina
    * George Voinovich of Ohio
    * Tom Coburn of Oklahoma
    * Jim DeMint of South Carolina
    * John Thune of South Dakota
    * Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas
    * Bob Bennett of Utah

  • Baronius

    Good analysis. One thing I’d change: their seats are not necessarily in districts that McCain won, but they are in districts that have previously been Republican. By definition, any ground you gain is territory that used to be on the other side. You see this in the Senate a lot: the Dems’ historic wins in 1974 became the Republican majority in 1980, which they lost again in 1986.

  • Arch Conservative

    “It would truly be disheartening for Democrats, if after so many so many years in the wilderness, they squander the huge mandate they now have because they can’t unite behind a bill.”

    It’s a bill that the American people oppose more and more as they learn about it.

    The only people that would actually benefit from the bill would be illegals and welfare monkeys. Everyone else gets screwed.

    In order to pass any type of bill the public option is going to have to be axed completely.

    King Barry is slowly learning that he’s no longer campaigning and that empty platitudes like hope and change aren’t going to generate the adulation he’s used to and so craves.

    He really is a socialist and his socialist agenda is butting heads with the reality that the American people don’t want to go where he wants to take this nation.

    Being the arrogant douche that he is, he will not waiver from his radical agenda so the result is going to be four long years for both he and the American people.