If I may add a point to Robert's post below, this story in The Hill about the obstinate-yet-conflicted House “Blue Dog” coalition is exactly the sort of problem that ought to frustrate liberals. Here you have (some) conservative Democrats who have repeatedly voted to fund a war without worrying about how to pay for it, and now all of sudden they show pangs of fiscal responsibility about not coming up with the monies to fund one program in the new war spending bill. Blue Dogs finally getting with the program: Sounds great, right?

Not so fast, because the part they are raising fiscal responsibility objectives about is…wait for it, because it’s really going to infuriate you…education benefits for veterans. Where was this sort of ethic from Blue Dogs when the Bush administration was asking for billions to be handed over to venal, wasteful, no-bid contract-winning war profiteers?

“Some of us oppose creating a new entitlement program in an emergency spending bill, whether it’s butchers, bakers or candlestick-makers,” said Rep. John Tanner (D-Tenn.), a founding member of the Blue Dog Coalition who serves on the House leadership team as a deputy whip. The so-called GI Bill of Rights, authored by Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), would give veterans money for college and cost $720 million in its first two years. But critics say that could grow to billions in future years.”

No! Not billions spent without funds to pay for it -- that just never happens in defense spending!

Two comments: First, thank goodness for Webb. Second, I’m going to keep saying this until it starts to sink in: Since Reconstruction, the Blue Dog element within the Democratic Party has gone from dominant majority, to significant minority to what it is today -- a declining coalition of conflicted complainers. Among the blessings of building a non-southern Democratic majority is that there is greater intraparty ideological cohesion, thus marginalizing Blue Dogs and their hand-wringing interference with emerging liberal project.

--Tom Schaller

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