Foundation

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

by Pete Sepp, Rachael Slobodien / /

(Alexandria, VA) – With strong gains for Republicansand disproportionately large losses for moderate Democrats, what will thefiscal profile of the 112th Congress look like? A unique examinationof 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 JeffDircksen studied the House election results through the prism of hisorganization’s BillTally system, which since 1991 has computed the legislativespending 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 sponsoredlegislation which, if enacted in its entirety, would increase annual federaloutlays by $500.2 billion. However, the average net spending agenda forDemocrats who were defeated on November 2 was even smaller – $96.1 billion.  This is primarily because a large number ofDemocrats who lost their seats were members of the Blue Dog Coalition, whotended to sponsor fewer federal spending increases and more cuts.
  • Examining only lawmakers belonging to the Blue Dog Caucus, those whowon reelection actually had a largeragenda – $166.3 billion – than those who lost ($45.3 billion).
  • In the current Congress, theaverage GOP agenda would result in a reductionof outlays totaling $45.3 billion, after hitting a high in the 108thCongress (a $30.7 billion increase).

     Based on this and other BillTally data, Dircksencontends it would not be unrealistic for many Democrats in the 112thCongress to believe their party gained little at the polls with its attempts tostep back from proposing higher spending. Republicans, meanwhile, mightperceive that matching their rhetoric about spending cuts to real legislationaided them on Election Day. This analysis may indicate stalemate, but therecould be a twist. Republicans have stated they will allow amendments to reducespending for all legislation brought to the floor. This factor, plus theaddition of Republican freshmen, might provide political cover to the remainingBlue Dogs to give them the opportunity to more aggressively advocate for budgetcuts.

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

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


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