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Populist Caucus

Iowans split on party lines as Congress approves three trade deals

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Oct 13, 2011 at 05:46:44 AM CDT

The U.S. House and Senate approved trade agreements with Columbia, Panama and South Korea yesterday. All Iowa Republicans supported each of the three deals, while Iowa Democrats voted against them. Links to roll calls and statements from most of the lawmakers are after the jump.
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America: We Need a National Manufacturing Strategy

by: Congressman Bruce Braley

Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 15:05:32 PM CST

(I think it's important that we take a hard look at how we bring manufacturing, particularly GREEN manufacturing, back to Iowa's rural communities.  Thought this could essentially be an open thread. - promoted by Mark Langgin)

What did you buy this week? Now - how many of those items were made in America? Not many, I bet. Because even if we wanted to, most of us would be hard-pressed to buy only American-made products.

While U.S. jobs are steadily shipped overseas, the tidal wave of foreign-made goods in our stores and in our homes has become as regular as the tide. And that's a big problem for our country.
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IA-01: Braley reinventing himself as a deficit hawk

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 12:14:18 PM CST

President Barack Obama presented his $3.73 trillion budget proposal for fiscal year 2012 yesterday. I had a post in progress highlighting some good ideas from the proposal, like more investments in high-speed rail and clean energy programs, and reducing taxpayer subsidies for the oil and gas industries. There are bad ideas too, such as a pathetically small "cut" of $78 billion for defense spending over 10 years. The word "cut" misleads here because we're talking about a slightly smaller rate of growth for the defense budget. Our military spending skyrocketed during the last decade and should be reduced substantially if Washington officials are serious about reducing the deficit.

The moral failure of Obama's budget becomes clear when you look at the $400 billion in cuts he proposes for non-defense discretionary spending (which is half as large a portion of the budget pie as the military). Many of those cuts will hurt the vulnerable: less money for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and some student aid programs, to name a couple of egregious examples. Obama also wants a "bipartisan" conversation about "strengthening" Social Security, and Washington bipartisanship on Social Security is sure to harm working people and future retirees.

Since the Republican-controlled House of Representatives won't enact the president's spending plans, the budget document is important mainly as a sign of Obama's priorities and political calculations going into this year's negotiations with Congress.

Speaking of political calculations, I was struck by Representative Bruce Braley's statement on the president's draft budget document--so much that I shifted gears on this post. Braley's comments were another sign of a noticeable change in tone since he won a third term in Iowa's first Congressional district. During the last Congress, Braley's policy statements often emphasized the importance of public investments. In the past two months, he has he put deficit hawkishness front and center. Several examples are after the jump, along with background putting Braley's new rhetorical style in political context.

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How the election affected Braley's Populist Caucus

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Nov 04, 2010 at 17:50:28 PM CDT

Now that Representative Bruce Braley has survived a Republican landslide despite a bucketload of money thrown at him, I thought I'd check to see how others in his House Populist Caucus fared on Tuesday.

Short story: the Populist Caucus lost five members. As a group, they fared better than the Blue Dogs or New Democrats, but not as well as the Progressive Caucus. The details are below.

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Braley outlines Populist Caucus "Blueprint for Recovery"

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jan 28, 2010 at 08:08:30 AM CST

Representative Bruce Braley advocated a four-point "Blueprint for Recovery" in Politico yesterday. The House Populist Caucus, which Braley formed last year, has endorsed these proposals to "require Wall Street to pay for economic development on Main Street and to pay down our nation's deficit."

Compensation. We need to change the culture of limitless bonuses by passing the Wall Street Bonus Tax Act (H.R. 4426). America's middle-class families saw their savings wiped out by Wall Street's gambling addictions and then watched as their tax dollars went to save troubled banks. The targeted tax would apply only to executives at banks that received Troubled Asset Relief Program funding who took bonuses in excess of $50,000. The Bonus Tax Act would generate billions of dollars of new revenue that would be directed exclusively to reward small businesses that are investing in new jobs.

Speculation. We need to stop excessive and risky speculation on Wall Street by passing the Let Wall Street Pay for the Restoration of Main Street Act (H.R. 4191). This legislation would reinstate a tiny transaction fee on speculative stock transactions by Wall Street traders, creating $150 billion annually in new revenue that would be dedicated to job creation and reducing the deficit.

Job creation. A "jobless recovery" is not a recovery for the middle class. With a national unemployment rate hovering around 10 percent, it's clear America's middle-class families are still struggling to make ends meet.

That's why we need to take the following two-pronged approach to creating good-paying jobs that can't be outsourced: We need to pass the National Infrastructure Development Bank Act (H.R. 2521), which would establish a wholly owned government corporation to prioritize infrastructure improvement projects that would create good-paying jobs. We also need to pass the Buy American Improvement Act (H.R. 4351) to eliminate loopholes in existing domestic sourcing laws and ensure that taxpayer money is used to purchase American-made products and support American jobs whenever possible.

Click here for more details on the Wall Street transaction fees the Populist Caucus supports. The idea is worthwhile, but I am skeptical that the current economic team in the Obama administration would get behind it.

I'm not clear on why a new government corporation on infrastructure projects needs to be created (as opposed to just appropriating more funds for existing agencies to spend on high-speed rail, affordable housing or other infrastructure needs). I asked Braley's office for comment on that part of the blueprint and received this reply:

The Populist Caucus believes we need a National Infrastructure Bank (NIB) now to invest in merit-based infrastructure projects-both traditional and technological-by leveraging private capital. In recent years, the private sector has raised more than $100 billion in dedicated infrastructure funds, but most of that money is being invested overseas.  We need an NIB to attract those funds into a U.S. market for infrastructure development.

It's notable that the Populist Caucus is not backing broader populist measures, such as tax hikes for corporations and the top 1 percent of individual earners. Then again, Braley's caucus prepared and approved this "blueprint" before Oregon residents approved two tax-raising ballot initiatives this week.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Year in review: national politics in 2009 (part 2)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jan 07, 2010 at 14:56:38 PM CST

Following up on the diary I posted this morning, this post compiles links to Bleeding Heartland's coverage of national politics from July through December 2009. Health care reform was again the number one topic. I wish there had been a happy ending.
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Year in review: national politics in 2009 (part 1)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jan 07, 2010 at 07:52:32 AM CST

It took me a week longer than I anticipated, but I finally finished compiling links to Bleeding Heartland's coverage from last year. This post and part 2, coming later today, include stories on national politics, mostly relating to Congress and Barack Obama's administration. Diaries reviewing Iowa politics in 2009 will come soon.

One thing struck me while compiling this post: on all of the House bills I covered here during 2009, Democrats Leonard Boswell, Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack voted the same way. That was a big change from 2007 and 2008, when Blue Dog Boswell voted with Republicans and against the majority of the Democratic caucus on many key bills.

No federal policy issue inspired more posts last year than health care reform. Rereading my earlier, guardedly hopeful pieces was depressing in light of the mess the health care reform bill has become. I was never optimistic about getting a strong public health insurance option through Congress, but I thought we had a chance to pass a very good bill. If I had anticipated the magnitude of the Democratic sellout on so many aspects of reform in addition to the public option, I wouldn't have spent so many hours writing about this issue. I can't say I wasn't warned (and warned), though.

Links to stories from January through June 2009 are after the jump. Any thoughts about last year's political events are welcome in this thread.

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Braley, Harkin, House Populists push for Wall Street transaction fees

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 14:58:05 PM CST

Members of the House Populist Caucus, chaired by Representative Bruce Braley (IA-01), held a press conference on Thursday to endorse a bill that would "assess a small fee on Wall Street day traders to pay down the national deficit and invest in America's middle class families."

Details about the bill are after the jump.

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What a real public option would look like

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Sep 14, 2009 at 23:12:57 PM CDT

BruceMcF breaks it down for you:

So: (1) Public Choice

"No Taxation without Representation". Every single person facing an individual mandate must be provided with the choice of a publicly administered plan. Otherwise the government is forcing the citizen to pay without the elected representatives of the citizen controlling the spending.

You want to put a trigger on the public option. Fine, except the exact same trigger applies to the individual mandate.

You want to restrict access to the public option to some smaller group? Fine, except the same restriction applies to the individual mandate.

The system is not politically legitimate if it requires payment to for-profit commercial corporations.

(2) Robust

It cannot be lumbered down with any restrictions not faced by private insurers.

State by state public options? Really? You are really prepared to restrict the corporations to firms with no commercial activity across state lines? If they are free standing state by state public options, it has to be state by state for profit corporations. Oh, not allowing [United Healthcare] into the exchanges defeats the purpose of lining private pockets at the public expense? Yeah, kind of thought so.

BruceMcF has long been one of my favorite transportation bloggers and has written great stuff on health care reform too, including Axelrod: Government by Consent of the Corporation. His home blog is Burning the Midnight Oil, but he frequently cross-posts his work at Progressive Blue, Daily Kos, My Left Wing, Docudharma, and the Hillbilly Report.

Speaking of real and fake public options, Timothy Noah explains "the sorry history" of triggers enacted by Congress, and slinkerwink has suggestions and talking points to use when contacting House Progressives about health care reform. I still think it's worth urging Populist Caucus members as well as Progressives to insist on a real, not fake or triggered, public option in the final health care bill.

Bruce Braley (IA-01) leads the Populist Caucus, and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) and Leonard Boswell (IA-03) both belong to the caucus. All of them have advocated for the public option, but to my knowledge none has pledge to vote down any bill that lacks a public option.

For those interested in the nitty gritty of legislative wrangling, David Waldman ponders what might happen if the Senate Finance Committee members can't agree and consequently fail to report out a health care bill.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Reject Baucus' bill and take away his gavel

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jul 30, 2009 at 11:11:32 AM CDT

I'm no negotiating expert, but I know that if you're not willing to walk away from a bad deal, no one will take your demands seriously.

Americans overwhelmingly want a public health insurance option and need that option for any number of reasons. Who you are and where you live strongly affects the kind of health insurance and health care you receive. Most Americans live in communities where one or two private companies dominate the health insurance market. Rural residents often have very limited access to health care providers. People of color also are shortchanged by our current system.

Despite all these problems, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus has done his best in recent weeks to show that The Onion was right about him eight years ago. Baucus has continued to pursue a bipartisan agreement on health care containing a fake public option.

It's time to cut Baucus off, and a great idea floated by Iowa's own Senator Tom Harkin offers part of the solution. (continues after the jump)

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Populist Caucus, allies speak out for fair trade

by: desmoinesdem

Thu May 21, 2009 at 20:41:14 PM CDT

Members of Bruce Braley's Populist Caucus were among 55 House members who took a stand against the Panama Free Trade Agreement today in an open letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

After the jump I've posted the full text of the letter, along with the list of those who signed. Here is an excerpt:

We believe trade agreements must meet basic standards protecting labor rights, environmental standards, food safety regulations, financial regulations, and taxation transparency. We are disturbed by Panama's tax haven status and the use of this tax haven by U.S. financial institutions like AIG and Citibank. The U.S. is currently contemplating stricter financial regulations to protect our economy, but the Panama FTA will likely weaken any such effort. We believe the Panama FTA should be renegotiated in order to address these outstanding issues.

President Obama campaigned effectively on changing the trade model and his message resonated with the American people.  We believe the Panama FTA falls far short of that commitment and it is not in the best interests of the American worker, our economy, or our country.  We share your commitment to fighting for working families and believe you can be an effective advocate for our cause.

The House members who signed the letter mostly belong to the Populist Caucus, House Trade Working Group, and/or the Progressive Caucus. I noticed that Representative Dave Loebsack (IA-02) joined Braley (IA-01) among the 17 Populist Caucus members who signed. Representative Leonard Boswell (IA-03) was among six Populist Caucus members who did not sign. One Republican signed: Walter Jones (NC-03).

"Defending American competitiveness by fighting for fair trade principles" is one of the six key priorities for the Populist Caucus.

Later today, a U.S. Trade Representative announced that the Panama agreement "won't be submitted to Congress for approval until President Barack Obama offers a new 'framework' for trade." At Open left, David Sirota interpreted that announcement as a victory (albeit possibly only temporary) for the Populist Caucus, its allies and the AFL-CIO, which had already come out against the Panama agreement.

We'll see whether the White House is willing to deviate significantly from the NAFTA model in this agreement. Whatever the final outcome, I am glad to see a large House contingent taking a stand for fair trade.

I still hope the Populist Caucus will get more involved in the health care debate.

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Time for Braley's Populist Caucus to speak up on health care

by: desmoinesdem

Sat May 09, 2009 at 21:47:22 PM CDT

Congress is getting to work on the details of health care reform, and a major battleground will be whether to include a strong public health insurance option for all Americans.

Republicans like Senator Chuck Grassley are revving up their scare tactics about "government-run" health care. Coalitions of Democrats who back a public option are also taking shape in the House and the Senate.

The new Populist Caucus led by Congressman Bruce Braley (IA-01) has yet to weigh in on the specifics of health care reform. That needs to change soon if Braley is serious about turning this caucus into a voice for the middle class in the House.

More thoughts on this subject are after the jump.

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Harkin and Loebsack support public option in health care reform

by: desmoinesdem

Sat May 02, 2009 at 18:00:00 PM CDT

Congress will begin making important decisions on health care policy very soon. The Senate Finance Committee began drafting a health care bill a few days ago.

I was glad to see two Iowans among the representatives and senators who urged colleagues this week to include a strong public option in any health care reform plan.

After the jump I have more on where Congressman Dave Loebsack and Senator Tom Harkin stand on health care, as well as the benefits of creating a public health insurance option.

UPDATE: Thanks to Populista for reminding me that all Iowa Democrats in Congress (Bruce Braley, Dave Loebsack, Leonard Boswell and Tom Harkin) have signed on to support Health Care for America Now's core principles for health care reform.

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More details on Braley's Populist Caucus

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Feb 19, 2009 at 11:09:35 AM CST

Chris Bowers wrote a good post on where Representative Bruce Braley's new Populist Caucus fits in among House Democrats. The whole piece is worth reading, but here's an excerpt:

Clearly, there is a strong tendency toward the Progressive caucus among the Populists, even though they were organized by a New Democrat. Further, Progressive punch puts the median lifetime score on "crucial votes" for this group at 55.5 of 256 (between [Joe] Courtney at 54 and [Dave] Loebsack at 57) in the Democratic caucus, placing it decidedly in the left-wing of the party.
[...]

Notably, the Populists are also heavy on the class of 2006, as 14 of the 20 members listed by the Huffington Post were first elected to Congress that year (and Massa came within an inch of being a 15th that year). Only Boswell, DeFazio, Filner Sanchez and Schakowsky were first elected to Congress before 2006. As such, while it displayed the same fractured tendencies of all ideological caucuses across the three bailout votes, the Populist Caucus appears to be primarily a caucus of progressive sophomore Representatives. This is particularly interesting since the class of 2006 was supposed to be a conservative dominated class ushered in by then -DCCC chair Rahm Emanuel. Now, the progressive members of that class appear to have organized a new caucus for themselves.

I didn't realize until I read this page on Braley's website that Tom Harkin chaired a House Populist Caucus during the 1980s:

In February of 1983, a group of 14 Midwest Democratic members of Congress founded the first known "Populist Caucus" with the goal to "fight for such economic goals as fairer taxes, lower interest rates and cheaper energy."

The original Populist Caucus was chaired by then-Rep. Tom Harkin (D-IA).  The other members in the caucus were Berkley Bedell (D-IA); Lane Evans (D-IL); Tom Daschle (D-SD); Al Gore (D-TN); Timothy Penny (D-MN); Jim Weaver (D-OR); Byron Dorgan (D-ND); Harold Volkmer (D-MO); James Oberstar (D-MN); Bob Wise (D-WV); Frank McCloskey (D-IN); Bill Richardson (D-NM); Gerry Sikorski (D-MN); and Mike Synar (D-OK).

The first Populist Caucus dissolved by the mid-1990's.

Several members of that original Populist Caucus had been elected to the U.S. Senate or had left the House for other reasons by the early 1990s.

Side note: Bill Richardson once identified himself as a populist? Wow.

The new Populist Caucus platform is on Braley's website:

  1. Fighting for working families and the middle class by creating and retaining good-paying jobs in America, providing fair wages, proper benefits, a level playing field at the negotiating table, and ensuring American workers have secure, solvent retirement plans.
  2. Cutting taxes for the middle class and establishing an equitable tax structure.
  3. Providing affordable, accessible, quality health care for all Americans.
  4. Ensuring quality primary education for all American children, and affordable college education for all who want it.
  5. Defending American competiveness by fighting for fair trade principles.
  6. Protecting consumers, so that Americans can have faith in the safety and effectiveness of the products they purchase

I will be interested to see how the Populist Caucus weighs in on the coming debates over health care, workers' rights and tax policy.

A full list of the 23 founding Populist Caucus members is after the jump.  

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Braley ready to roll out House Populist Caucus

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 08:00:00 AM CST

Representative Bruce Braley (IA-01) announced plans to form a Populist Caucus in December. According to the Huffington Post, Braley plans to roll out the new caucus this week. (Hat tip David Sirota.)

Huffington Post lists most of the 21 founding members, who come from all over the country. There are moderates like Leonard Boswell (IA-03) and Phil Hare (IL-17), progressives like Keith Ellison (MN-05) and Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), and netroots heroes like Eric Massa (NY-29) and Pete DeFazio (OR-04). According to Huffington Post, Braley would be open to having Republicans join the caucus, although only Democrats have signed up so far.

Braley's letter inviting colleagues to join the caucus listed these key points of the Populist Caucus agenda:

1. Fighting for working families and the middle class through the establishment of an equitable tax structure, fair wages, proper benefits, a level playing field at the negotiating table, and secure, solvent retirement plans.
2. Providing affordable, accessible, quality health care to all Americans.
3. Ensuring accessible, quality primary education for all American children, and affordable college education for all who want it.
4. Protecting consumers, so that Americans can once again have faith in the safety and effectiveness of the products they purchase.
5. Defending American competitiveness by fighting for fair trade principles.
6. Creating and retaining good-paying jobs in America.

Huffington Post also had this encouraging news:

The Populist Caucus will make its first major play by advocating for the inclusion of a "Buy American" provision in the stimulus package.

Bring it on. The "Buy American" provision is important if we want the stimulus to create jobs in the U.S. rather than taxpayer-funded outsourcing.

Though only starting his second term in Congress, Braley is rising fast. He landed a seat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee after aggressively advocating for Henry Waxman to replace John Dingell as its chairman. He is also one of three vice-chairs of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Bleeding Heartland Year in Review: Iowa politics in 2008

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Dec 31, 2008 at 22:00:00 PM CST

Last year at this time I was scrambling to make as many phone calls and knock on as many doors as I could before the Iowa caucuses on January 3.

This week I had a little more time to reflect on the year that just ended.

After the jump I've linked to Bleeding Heartland highlights in 2008. Most of the links relate to Iowa politics, but some also covered issues or strategy of national importance.

I only linked to a few posts about the presidential race. I'll do a review of Bleeding Heartland's 2008 presidential election coverage later this month.

You can use the search engine on the left side of the screen to look for past Bleeding Heartland diaries about any person or issue.

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Will Blue Dog power decline in the next Congress? (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Dec 26, 2008 at 01:00:00 AM CST

Many a bad bill has passed the U.S. House of Representatives with the votes of Republicans and Democratic "Blue Dogs." These representatives call themselves "moderates" or "centrists," and you often find them voting with corporate interests, against the majority of the House Democratic caucus, when the chips are down.

This Washington Post article about the upcoming debate over an economic stimulus bill cites Representative Baron Hill of Indiana as "incoming co-chairman of the Blue Dog Coalition, a caucus of 51 fiscally conservative House Democrats."

Hill wants the economic stimulus money to go toward road and bridge construction, whereas others would like to see more of the money spent on "green jobs" and infrastructure projects that are more environmentally friendly than building new roads. Progressives would like to spend the transportation money on fixing our existing roads and bridges while expanding public transit and rail.

Friends of the Earth has launched a campaign to "keep the economic stimulus clean":

Transportation in the U.S. is responsible for 30 percent of our global warming pollution and 70 percent of our oil consumption. We cannot solve the energy and climate challenge without making our transportation system far cleaner and more efficient.

President-elect Obama and the congressional leadership are moving quickly to pass an economic stimulus package that creates green jobs with a new, clean energy infrastructure. Public transportation, smart growth and green transportation alternatives are a crucial part of this effort.

Unfortunately, the road-building lobby is attempting to hijack this bill and divert billions of dollars to the construction of new, unnecessary roads, highways and bridges that would deepen our nation's dependence on oil and increase greenhouse gas emissions.

Click here for more details about the economic and environmental consequences of letting new road construction dominate the stimulus bill.

Getting back to the title of this diary, Matt Stoller read that Washington Post piece about debates over the stimulus and was intrigued to learn that Hill claims 51 members for the Blue Dog Coalition:

Last session, there were 49 Blue Dogs, and during the election season the caucus continually bragged about how they would add a substantial number of new members in 2009.  Still, their PAC didn't give to very many Democratic candidates, two Blue Dogs lost reelection, and a bunch of their candidate prospects lost.  If it's true that the Blue Dogs have only increased their number by 2, and I'm not sure it is, then they really are far weaker in the House than they were from 2006-2008.  There are 257 Democrats in the next Congress and 178 Republicans.  While the Blue Dogs are still a swing bloc, they only have 11 votes to give.  That's not very many, considering that this number assumes all Republicans always vote with the Blue Dogs.  If Republicans split off from their caucus on certain votes, even small numbers of Republicans, then Blue Dog priorities are far less likely to matter overall.

Leonard Boswell (IA-03) is the only Iowa Democrat in the Blue Dog group. Once the new House convenes, it will be interesting to see how the Blue Dogs compare in number to the Progressive Caucus, which had 71 members in the last Congress, including Dave Loebsack (IA-02). My hunch is that the Progressive Caucus will add a lot more new members than the Blue Dogs.

After the new year I'll try to find out how many members Bruce Braley (IA-01) was able to recruit to the Populist Caucus he is forming.

Whether or not Blue Dog power declines in the House, it may be on the rise in the Senate. Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana is setting up a Blue Dog caucus in the upper chamber. Although Senate Majority leader Harry Reid's spokesman claims Reid is "upbeat" about Bayh's plans, it's likely that the Senate Blue Dogs will collude with Republicans to obstruct Barack Obama's agenda.

Matthew Yglesias advanced a very plausible hypothesis about Bayh's move:

With Republicans out of power, the GOP can't really block progressive change in exchange for large sums of special interest money. That creates an important market niche for Democrats willing to do the work. It was a good racket for the House Blue Dogs in 2007-2008 and there's no reason it couldn't work for Senate analogues over the next couple of years.

Let's hope the memory of the 1994 Republican landslide will induce conservative Democrats not to block most of Obama's agenda. The Democrats who ran Congress in 1993 and 1994 wanted to show Bill Clinton who was boss, but the effect was to make Democrats look incompetent, depressing Democratic base turnout in 1994 and turning swing voters toward the Republicans.

On the other hand, I would not underestimate the Blue Dogs' willingness to do what big money wants, whether or not it's good for the Democratic Party.

Share any relevant thoughts in the comments.

UPDATE: Kagro X notes that the Progressive Caucus seems to be a more cohesive voting bloc than the Blue Dogs, which is surprising.

Meanwhile, Chris Bowers argues persuasively than the Blue Dogs have achieved little on their alleged signature issue of "fiscal responsibility":

If the Blue Dogs only exist in order to promote "fiscal responsibility," isn't it pretty clear that, rather than getting their way, they have actually failed across the board over the last eight years? From the Bush tax cuts, to soaring deficits, to making exceptions for war, to making exceptions for bailouts, to making exceptions to stimulus packages, the Blue Dogs have completely and utterly failed at their stated primary policy area and done so at every available opportunity.

The only actual successes of the Blue Dogs appear to be the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] re-write and blank check funding for Iraq. It is notable that 38 of the 47 Blue Dogs voted in favor of both these measures, which jointly render a member a "Bush Dog" in Open Left's terminology. Given that 70 House members voted in favor of both those measures, the Democratic defectors on those issues were clearly spearheaded by the Blue Dogs.

Mainly, I am impressed that Blue Dogs keep earning press that describes them as fiscally responsible and wildly powerful, when the record shows otherwise. When offered opportunities to actually clamp down on spending over the last two years, the Blue Dogs have balked at every turn, favoring blank check funding for Iraq, blank check funding for the bailout, and massive funding for the economic stimulus. That a group of House members can do all of this and still be described as both "fiscally responsible" and "powerful" is pretty impressive. Maybe what we progressives really need is to hire the Blue Dogs' PR people.

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Braley to Start a Populist Caucus in the U.S. House

by: noneed4thneed

Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 19:42:29 PM CST

Bruce Braley is once again showing leadership in Congress.

Braley sent a letter to colleagues in the U.S. House about becoming a founding member of a populist caucus to help the middle class and working families.

The letter outlines six goals...

1. Fighting for working families and the middle class through the establishment of an equitable tax structure, fair wages, proper benefits, a level playing field at the negotiating table, and secure, solvent retirement plans.
2. Providing affordable, accessible, quality health care to all Americans.
3. Ensuring accessible, quality primary education for all American children, and affordable college education for all who want it.
4. Protecting consumers, so that Americans can once again have faith in the safety and effectiveness of the products they purchase.
5. Defending American competitiveness by fighting for fair trade principles.
6. Creating and retaining good-paying jobs in America.
Both John Edwards and Mike Huckabee were described as being populists during their presidential runs and that helped them do well in the Iowa Caucuses. This shows the issues outlined have some support on both sides of the aisle.

Matt Stoller has more at Open Left how this populist caucus compares to the Progressive Caucus and the more conservative Blue Dog Democrats. Stoller points out how, historically, Populists have been more rural-based and the Blue Dogs tend to represent more rural areas.
Discuss :: (3 Comments)
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- On the Campaign Trail with Ed Tibbetts
- Newton Independent (Peter Hussmann)
- Politically Speaking
- Price of Politics, etc.
- O.Kay Henderson at Radio Iowa
Iowa Democrats
- Tom Harkin (U.S. Senator)
- Bruce Braley (IA-01)
- Dave Loebsack (IA-02)
- Iowa Democratic Party
- Iowa House Democrats
- Iowa Senate Democrats
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