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The Blue Coalition is a group of conservative Democrats who currently have a 49 person membership in Congress. According to WAPO their numbers are expected to expand after the election and they could pose a significant road block for Obama and his economic plans. The Coalition is seen as a very powerful block so Obama called each member to set some ground rules early.

Senior Democrats on Capitol Hill see Obama's early relationship-building as evidence that he is determined to take office with a legislative plan in place.

One issue is that the Blue Dogs do not like government spending and demand more fiscal discipline among other things. Obama is not waiting until January to begin planning his government. He is calling and working to find votes now.

"He [Obama] said he planned to be the next president and he wanted to work with us," Ross said in recounting his conversation with Obama before the House approved a $700 billion economic rescue package. "He also recognized that we had the numbers to block or clear" legislation coming from the White House if he is elected.

Obama's economic advisors have been in continuous communications with the Blue Dogs to gain their confidence and support of Obama's planned legislation. In doing so, the Blue Dogs seemingly are becoming more open and flexible.

For the Blue Dogs, a partnership with Obama provides a pathway out of an ideological cul-de-sac that the group backed into by insisting that the House adopt budget rules linking every spending increase or tax cut to a specific spending cut or new revenue source. Even many in the group concede that the standard was difficult to meet and caused friction among House Democrats, as well as open warfare with the Senate.

"They recognize that they've sort of committed themselves to a rather inflexible standard of fiscal discipline," said Scott Lilly, a longtime senior House aide and now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. Obama, he said, "is looking at the Blue Dogs and realizing their position is not in line with what he needs. It's a very good sign. He's counting votes already, and he's got a pretty good sense of where the issues are going to be."

And, the Blue Dogs are beginning to see Obama as person with the fiscal discipline they can work with.

Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), a budget expert who endorsed Obama early in his campaign, had pressed the Democratic nominee to court his colleagues. Cooper said the result was likely to be real flexibility in setting a new budget course. "We're going to have an engaged President Obama, and I think we will have a good fiscal steward."

Let's see what happens with our beloved Blue Dogs next year.

Originally posted to sweetliberty on Tue Oct 14, 2008 at 07:51 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  You make beloved sound like a four-letter word :) (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  Excellent catch, SL. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    baad, Steve Love

    This is a very, very important issue. Nov. 2 is the battle of Helm's Deep. The real battles follow.

    And the Blue Dog Dems are in many ways the key to the battle. They must be worked with or around.

    What I see here is Obama the master political tactician playing the chess game 6 moves ahead of his opponents. He is superb.

    And he offers the absolute key to American survival--the ability to negotiate consensus among deeply divided interests to solve problems. We are going to need that at every level domestically and internationally, politically, economically, and militarily.

    Obama really is the man we need right now.

    "I'm a dweller on the threshold ..."

    by thresholder on Tue Oct 14, 2008 at 08:02:24 AM PDT

  •  Obama is a consensus builder (0+ / 0-)

    and I think he will be able to make Blue Dogs see that their fortunes are tied into fixing Government's brokenness, and that not everything can be fixed simply by cutting it. Sometimes the funding gaps are the problem.

    At the same time, I think Obama will be able to use the dollars already committed and the strain on the debt that this represents as a way of making sure that other Democrats have to ground their plans in fiscal reality.

    The standard Keynesian response to a Recession only works if you've been laying up grain in the granary. And unfortunately, Bush has blown all the dough!

    "For those Joe 6-packs playing a drinking game at home -- maverick!" Tina Fey as Sarah Palin.

    by Bobs Telecaster on Tue Oct 14, 2008 at 08:04:13 AM PDT

  •  I'm sorry but.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mayan, Rob Dapore

    the Blue Dogs are by and large irrelevant. Their influence is way overstated; a third of their members are not really that conservative and are from districts democrats would easily hold. Remember the New Democratic Network of the Clinton years...Jim Moran, Cal Dooley and Tim Roemer? buzzwords for the times, only Jim is around and he is as liberal as they come.

    They claim to oppose deficit spending but are some of the biggest beggers and recievers of pork. They claim to oppose increasing the national debt but have never seen an expensive defense appropriations bill they don't like. A lot of them are on the Ag. and Transportation Committees, and those churn out the biggest and most special interest ladden bills in Congress. They are not anywhere as influential as their predecessor Boll Weevils were in the Reagan days (those guys baiscally were Republican moles in the Democratic caucus). Besides, the GOP has absolutely messed up the idea that they know how to manage the economy, why Blue Dogs who vote 50/50 with the GOP would be considered better is beyond me.

    Now, I am a Big Tent guy and if I were a  member of Congress, I'd probably be more conservative than other members of COngress, but I think saying, you can't get anything done w/o my vote is BS (which is what the Blue Dogs like to do). Each member of Congress is important regardless of where they come from and their views should he heard. But beleiving the Blue Dogs hold the balance of power in the incoming Democratic Congress is bunk; Obama, if elected, will be the first Democratic President with a workin COngressinal majority not dependent or constrained by conservative/populist white Southern Democrats...and by and large, that is a overral a good thing!

    •  Agreed. (0+ / 0-)

      "We're all working for the Pharaoh" - Richard Thompson

      by mayan on Tue Oct 14, 2008 at 08:05:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  They Could Be His Stumblling Block (0+ / 0-)
      especially if they work cooperatively with the minority Republican cohort.  We have already seen two major Blue Dog congressmen fly to the aid of Stevens from Alaska.

      It is going to take a political master to keep them in line and that means being able to talk in ways that will allow them to listen and act in ways that will allow them to vote for Obama's initiatives. It doesn't mean caving into them but it does mean helping them find cover when they vote in ways that are unnatural for them.  Obama must attempt to get their cooperation without humiliating them in the eyes of their constituencies.

      The truth about John McCain's Keating Cheating

      by tikkun on Tue Oct 14, 2008 at 08:17:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Put the Blue Dogs down (0+ / 0-)

    Start looking for real progressive candidates for 2010!

    "America better beware of a candidate who is willing to stretch reality in order to win points" - G.W. Bush, 2000

    by Rob Dapore on Tue Oct 14, 2008 at 08:33:40 AM PDT

    •  It's Blue Dogs who are on the line. (0+ / 0-)

      Blue Dogs are not necessarily closet Republicans, they are Democrats running against the dominant political views of their district. They have taken positions on cultural issues because they did not want to give the district over to the GOP which would be worse for their district.
        But as the country moves away from the inanity of Bush economics, the view of the economy will change, making it easier for Democrats to be elected in what was conservative-leaning districts.  The severity of the economy crunch will also lessen the importance of cultural issues.  As that happens, there will be less and less justification for anyone to seek Blue Dog status.
        Where there are Democrats who persist in voting with the Republicans and against Obama's policies, we need to find replacements, but now is not the time to be making that judgment in my opinion.  

      ...Former candidate for Congress.

      by Steve Love on Tue Oct 14, 2008 at 09:27:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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