Taxpayer Watchdog Congratulates Dems' on Fiscal Plan

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:30 PM EDT

( - A taxpayer watchdog group is praising Blue Dog Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives for attempting to restore fiscal discipline to the federal government.

"I'm pleased there seems to be a mounting consensus on Capitol Hill that spending is out of control and something must be done," said Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW).

Created in the 104th Congress, the Blue Dogs describe themselves as fiscally conservative House Democrats who tend to vote together on budgetary and economic issues.

Their stated goal is to bring their own party back to the "center of the ideological spectrum, and to forge good working relationships with moderate Republicans to help move that party more toward a centrist agenda."

The Blue Dogs have advanced 12 ideas to bring more order to the budget process, and CAGW said most of them are proposals that CAGW has supported in the past and continues to support today.

The Blue Dog plan includes a balanced budget amendment; holding spending increases to 2.1 percent for the next three fiscal years; requiring all federal agencies to audit their books; requiring a roll call vote on all bills costing more than $50 million (and whenever Congress raises the debt ceiling); setting money aside for clearly defined emergencies; allowing three-day deliberation periods before voting on a bill so lawmakers have time to see what's in it; honest CBO estimates; and improved Congressional oversight.

"The Blue Dog list is a good start, but there are two proposals with which we disagree," said Schatz.

One is "pay-go," which requires Congress to offset spending increases or tax cuts with new revenue. CAGW wants spending to be offset with cuts elsewhere -- not more revenue.

"Taxpayers already send enough money to Washington," Schatz said in a press release. "Congress needs to set priorities, hold the line on spending and eliminate waste, fraud and abuse. Allowing an increased revenue stream is simply a loophole that will enable Congress to continue to spend," he said.

CAGW also wants assurances that any balanced budget amendment would include a tax-limitation clause.

"It is our hope that the Blue Dog's proposal to improve the budget process is a change for the better on Capitol Hill. If it is accompanied by a genuine commitment to vote for serious reforms, we welcome it," concluded Schatz.