Three members of Indiana’s congressional delegation pledged to fiscal responsibility voted in favor of the massive stimulus package that is likely to cost taxpayers nearly $3.3 trillion and sink the nation further into debt. The bill passed both houses of Congress on Friday almost entirely along partisan lines. While the official price tag was $787 billion, interest on debt incurred and the predictable extension of certain programs means the final cost is much greater, according to a Heritage Foundation analysis of Congressional Budget Office numbers.
Rep. Baron Hill, Rep. Steve Ellsworth and Rep. Joe Donnelly are all members of the Blue Dog Coalition, a caucus of House Democrats nominally devoted to financial stability and balanced budgets. Only three caucus members rejected the budget-busting stimulus bill, however, while the rest of its roughly 47 members supported the legislation.
“Although not perfect, this legislation addresses both our immediate and long-term economic issues,” said Rep. Hill in a news release following the vote. “My vote in support of this stimulus package should not serve as an indication of future fiscal measures that will receive my vote. My constituents are well aware of my fiscal conservative beliefs, but now is not the time to be ideologically rigid at the expense of Hoosier families.”
Let’s consider exactly how the stimulus package became a reality: This budget-busting bill was crafted and passed in partisan fashion, behind closed doors without input from Republican lawmakers. There was no time for legislators to read the bill, let alone allow for public feedback, a promise which House leadership violated. All of this runs counter to the stated values of the Blue Dog Coalition.
Mr. Hill’s posturing doesn’t alleviate the cost of debt and inflation to Hoosier families, nor recover a lost opportunity to stimulate the economy with a plan featuring tax cuts for job-creating small businesses and limited, targeted spending on logical and necessary projects and programs (as opposed to tax cuts that are actually transfer payments; other welfare spending; pork projects; and state block grants, among other things).
Blue Dog Democrats Rep. Heath Shuler (NC 11), Rep. Collin Peterson (MN 7) and Rep. Gene Taylor (MS 4) honored the coalition’s codge by voting against the stimulus bill. For Hill, Ellsworth and Donnelly, it seems the Blue Dog label is just cheap campaign rhetoric to convince voters they are something they are not. These three lawmakers should immediately and publicly resign their membership in the organization, because after this vote, they can no longer credibly claim any connection to the values espoused by the organization.