Blue Dog Dems seeing red

Blue Dog Democrats such as Rep. John Salazar, D- Colo., will pursue a modified pay-as-you-go policy as they contemplate new federal spending.

Pay as you go, or “paygo” in Congressional parlance, won’t be abandoned with a Democratically controlled Congress and White House, said Salazar, whose 3rd Congressional District includes most of the Western Slope.

Blue Dogs, or conservative Democrats, gained seats in the election and will have more heft in the coming congressional session, especially because many enjoy the backing of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Salazar said.

Blue Dog leader Jim Cooper, a Tennessee Democrat, said soon after the election of fellow Democrat Barack Obama that he questioned whether “the old rules are relevant anymore.”

It would be unfair to President Obama “to put him in a budget straitjacket,” Cooper said.

Cooper wrote in The Wall Street Journal last week that the Blue Dogs still will fight legislation that isn’t paid for.

Paygo, however, could get a makeover, Salazar said.

An “intermediate-term paygo” in which programs could be paid over a long term could be acceptable, Salazar said.

The investment of $1 billion in public-works projects, such as roads and airport improvements, would pump an equivalent amount of money back into the federal treasury in four years, he said.

The calculation is based on the assumption the spending would create 47,500 new jobs, all paying a 28 percent income tax, he said.

Intermediate-term paygo, he said, “just makes a whole lot of sense.”

The immediate roadblock to paygo isn’t in the House, Salazar said, but in the Senate, where it has few backers.


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