“Fiscal conservative” is one of those terms used by politicians of all sorts to describe themselves, without any real justification. Parroted mindlessly from one news cycle to the next by major media outlets, that phrase is often used to mislead the public about the priorities and policies favored by those who claim to embody budgetary prudence.
Consider the Democrats in the Blue Dog caucus, who constantly trumpet their fiscal conservatism and enjoy hearing that claim echoed in the media, especially now, when they are threatening to block health care reform. The Blue Dogs don’t like the public option for national health insurance; they bemoan the estimated trillion-dollar cost of covering everyone; and they zealously defend the prerogatives of the private insurance industry and the pharmaceutical manufacturers (who coincidentally give them millions of dollars in contributions).
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