Baron Hill has represented the 9th District of Indiana in the U.S. House of Representatives for 10 of the last 12 years. During that time, Hill has been a part of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of Democrats who consider themselves to be moderate-to-conservatives on many issues, especially fiscal ones. While Hill may have had Blue Dog credentials in the past, over the last couple of years he has revealed his true colors. Along with the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, Hill has voted for the failed stimulus package, the healthcare reform act and the cap-and-trade energy bill.
The stimulus package came with a price tag of nearly $900 billion, so a vote for it would be a far cry from being deemed as fiscally conservative. The price tag for the health care reform plan is somewhere in the $1 trillion range, depending on which set of data is used to apply a cost for it. Plus, it adds additional costs to every American to pay for their own or for someone else's healthcare needs. Again, that is certainly not a fiscally conservative position to take. And the cap-and-trade bill was clearly designed in a way that would lead to increased energy costs for both businesses and individuals.
Hill's vote on the cap-and-trade bill is particularly alarming given that back in 2006, when he was trying to win back the congressional seat that he had lost two years earlier, Hill was essentially a one-trick pony railing against high gas prices. He even wanted to have a debate against Mike Sodrel, the Republican incumbent, that would focus only on gas prices. The absurdity of Hill's arguments back then was the fact that Sodrel owned a trucking company, so if anybody would ever want to keep gas prices low then it would be someone like Sodrel. According to Hill, though, Sodrel was doing nothing to alleviate the high gas prices.
However, thanks to the Democratic wave in the 2006 election, Hill was able to win back his old congressional seat and is running for re-election to retain it again in this year's election cycle. So how has the one-trick pony done on the one-trick issue that he was so concerned about back in 2006? Well, the simple answer is not too well.
According to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average price of gas reached just over $3 per gallon in July 2006, when Hill was in the midst of his 'give me a second chance' campaign swing. By the time that Hill and the democrats took over Congress at the start of January 2007, gas prices had already dropped to an average of $2.30 per gallon. Just four months later in May 2007, the average price had risen back to just over $3 per gallon. Then by June 2008, gas prices hit their peak at just over $4 per gallon. Needless to say that Hill did not call for any one-topic debates on gas prices during that election cycle.
The economic collapse ultimately brought gas prices back down for a while, but they have rebounded back up to an average of $2.80 per gallon as of last week. In this year's election cycle though, Hill is not talking about gas prices. He also is not talking about his votes for the stimulus plan, the healthcare reform plan or the cap-and-trade bill. Hoosiers already have figured out how much those pieces of legislation have cost them and will cost them well into the future. But that does not matter to Hill because as he so emphatically explained last year, Hoosier voters are 'not going to tell him how he is going to run his congressional office.' Hoosier voters do get to decide who they send to represent them in that congressional office though.
Hill's main opponent in this year's election is Republican candidate Todd Young, whom Hill has attacked with a barrage of negative ads rather than run on his record of fiscally-liberal votes while in office. When talking about a person's age, the opposite of being young is often referred to as being over the hill. That is actually a very good analogy for the congressional race in the 9th District of Indiana this year since Hoosier voters will have an opportunity to get 'over the Hill' and choose 'Young' instead.