By: Brian Sikma

“Congressman Donnelly Opposes Democratic Budget” states the headline of the most recent press release from Rep. Joe Donnelly (D). To be strictly and technically accurate, that statement is true. In a roll call vote on March 13, Donnelly (and the two other Indiana Blue Dogs: Rep. Baron Hill and Rep. Brad Ellsworth) voted against HCR 312, the Democrat supported budget resolution for fiscal year 2009.

HCR 312, the Democratic budget resolution, is the largest tax increase ever. If enacted, taxes will rise by about $682 billion. The Heritage Foundation did a study of how those taxes would impact individual congressional districts both from a tax standpoint and from an economic standpoint. Tax increases have two affects, first, they directly take money from the taxpayer, second, they have economic costs like job losses and increased production costs which are passed along to the consumer in the form of higher prices.

In Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District, Rep. Donnelly’s district, the impact of the tax increase would be an additional $1,618 in taxes per taxpayer. Counting the economic costs would mean that individual taxpayers are out a total of $3,148 per capita as a result of the tax increase. It is also estimated that 2,111 jobs would be lost in the 2nd District as a result of the Democrats budget. Click here to see the data for your own congressional district.

To look at the entire situation surrounding that dismal budget resolution, however, presents a slightly different picture. Rep. Donnelly and his fellow Blue Dogs have proclaimed themselves to be fiscal conservatives. At times they have cast conservative votes. There is a difference though between casting occasional conservative votes or even just conservative votes on key votes, while neglecting the overall series of actions that a true fiscal conservative would take.

On March 12 the House considered and voted on a resolution to consider HCR 312, the budget resolution. That March 12 resolution was not the budget resolution, but if it had been defeated it would have at least slowed down the passage of the actual budget resolution. On that roll call vote, Joe Donnelly, Baron Hill, and Brad Ellsworth joined their Democratic majority and voted to allow the House to consider the fiscal year 2009 budget resolution.

Here is why that vote was not a good vote: everyone who voted on that measure realized that even if they voted against the actual budget resolution, the tax raising unemployment generating budget resolution would pass because a Democratic majority controls the House. Therefore, if one was going to be wholly principled on the matter, he or she would have to vote against the initial resolution and the actual budget resolution.

Donnelly and his fellow “conservative” Democrats were only half-principled on this matter of the budget and it is disingenuous of them to portray themselves as advocates of the hard-working middle class American.