Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – (Blue) dog days

In the immortal words of  Jonathan Swift (paraphrasing Erasmus and Hamlet) “Every dog must have his day.”

According to our correspondent Andy Sullivan, Blue Dog Democrats may have had theirs already. His report from Vermillion, South Dakota suggests the Blue Dogs may be a dying breed, their centrist brand of conservatism in danger of being swept away by the Republican tide in the midterms. PARADE MACY'S

The original Dogs were actually yellow, of course, from a Southern nickname for party loyalists who would vote for a yellow dog if it were on the ballot as a Democrat. The Blue Dog Coalition took its name from the view that members’ moderate-to-conservative ideas had been “choked blue” by the party in the run-up to the 1994 election. (Suggestions for alternative color schemes gratefully received at the Democratic National Committee.)

Centrist Republicans have also been under pressure from the rise of the Tea Party. While that will likely make the next Congress more fiscally conservative, it will not necessarily translate into a bipartisan deal to reduce the budget deficit, former Congressional Budget Office director Rudolph Penner warned today.

“A real problem here is that the Tea Party is going to scare the bejeebers out of any Republican that is talking about compromise, for fear of what will happen in the next primary,” Penner told a Chamber of Commerce forum. “There is no way we’re going to get out of this problem without a compromise between the two parties.”

from Summit Notebook:

If Democrats hold US House, Pelosi seen concentrating power-lobbyist

SUMMIT-WASHINGTON/JOSTENIf Democrats are able to hang on to the U.S. House of Representatives in the November 2 elections, Speaker Nancy Pelosi will likely be able to concentrate her power because there will be fewer conservative Democrats giving her a hard time on critical votes, according to top senior lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Political prognosticators have said that Republicans are within striking distance of taking control of the House in November, with Republicans needing a net gain of 40 seats and polls showing them closing in on that target.

"She'll have a much more cohesive conference than she has now because it's the middle that's anticipated to get cratered in this election," Bruce Josten told the Reuters Washington Summit.  "Most of the seat losses anticipated come from the people that are the hardest votes to get on party-line unity votes."

After much delay, Baucus unveils healthcare plan

After weeks of delay as he negotiated for Republican support, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus Wednesday unveiled a 10-year, $856 billion plan to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system.

The measure still has no promise of Republican support, even though Baucus dumped the public insurance option favored by most Democrats and agreed to other Republican changes in hopes of producing a bipartisan plan.

SENATE/HEALTHCAREBaucus predicted it would ultimately garner Republican votes.

“This is a good bill. This is a balanced bill. It can pass the Senate,” he said.

Blue Dogs howling at healthcare

This time it’s the Blue Dogs turning their noses up at healthcare reform proposals. AUSTRIA/

The House Energy and Commerce Committee canceled its healthcare markup  because the fiscally conservative Democrats growled about the steep pricetag.

President Barack Obama, top dog in this town, invited them to the White House to chew about it.