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Press Release

Loss of Congress’ “Blue Dogs” Could Mean Contradictory Paths for Spending Cuts Next Year, Study Predicts

November 10, 2010
By Pete Sepp

(Alexandria, VA) – With strong gains for Republicans and disproportionately large losses for moderate Democrats, what will the fiscal profile of the 112th Congress look like? A unique examination of legislative sponsorship data from the National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF) offers some interesting – and perhaps contradictory – clues.

To read the full study click here.

     NTUF Director of Congressional Analysis Jeff Dircksen studied the House election results through the prism of his organization’s BillTally system, which since 1991 has computed the legislative spending agendas of Members of Congress by analyzing the costs – and savings – of the bills lawmakers sponsor and cosponsor. Among the findings:

  • In the 111th Congress, the average House Democrat sponsored legislation which, if enacted in its entirety, would increase annual federal outlays by $500.2 billion. However, the average net spending agenda for Democrats who were defeated on November 2 was even smaller – $96.1 billion.  This is primarily because a large number of Democrats who lost their seats were members of the Blue Dog Coalition, who tended to sponsor fewer federal spending increases and more cuts.
  • Examining only lawmakers belonging to the Blue Dog Caucus, those who won reelection actually had a larger agenda – $166.3 billion – than those who lost ($45.3 billion).
  • In the current Congress, the average GOP agenda would result in a reduction of outlays totaling $45.3 billion, after hitting a high in the 108th Congress (a $30.7 billion increase).

     Based on this and other BillTally data, Dircksen contends it would not be unrealistic for many Democrats in the 112th Congress to believe their party gained little at the polls with its attempts to step back from proposing higher spending. Republicans, meanwhile, might perceive that matching their rhetoric about spending cuts to real legislation aided them on Election Day. This analysis may indicate stalemate, but there could be a twist. Republicans have stated they will allow amendments to reduce spending for all legislation brought to the floor. This factor, plus the addition of Republican freshmen, might provide political cover to the remaining Blue Dogs to give them the opportunity to more aggressively advocate for budget cuts.

     “As BillTally data can demonstrate, there may have been two electoral outcomes that will influence the 112th Congress,” Dircksen noted.  “Taxpayers will soon see which of these proves most ascendant in Washington.”

NTUF is the research and educational arm of the National Taxpayers Union, a nonpartisan citizen group founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes and smaller government at all levels. Note: NTUF Issue Brief 161, One Election, Two Outcomes: Predictions for Spending-Bill Sponsorship in the Next Congress, is available at