Corrupt K Street Lobbyists Set Up A New Blue Dog Think Tank To Undermine Working Families
Blue Dogs are often most reviled for crossing the aisle and voting with Republicans on key issues like healthcare reform and financial reform. Last November, when 39 Democrats voted against healthcare reform, for example, 25 were Blue Dogs. And when the reconciliation changes came to the House March 25, and 32 Democrats voted with the GOP, 25 were Blue Dogs.
Next week it will be one year since the House passed a hate crimes prevention bill that included the LGBT community. Seventeen Democrats crossed the aisle of bigotry and voted with the Republicans. All but one of them were Blue Dogs: Dan Boren (Blue Dog-OK), Bobby Bright (Blue Dog-AL), Chris Carney (Blue Dog-PA), Travis Childers (Blue Dog-MS), Lincoln Davis (Blue Dog-TN), Joe Donnelly (Blue Dog-IN), Brad Ellsworth (Blue Dog-IN), Bart Gordon (Blue Dog-TN), Parker Griffith (then a Blue Dog/now a Republican-AL), Mike McIntyre (Blue Dog-NC), Charlie Melancon (Blue Dog-LA), Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN), Mike Ross (Blue Dog-AR), Heath Shuler (Blue Dog-NC), John Tanner (Blue Dog-TN), and Gene Taylor (Blue Dog-MS).
But Blue Dogs do even more damage than just by voting with the Republicans against working families and against equality and liberty. The worst damage they do is within the Democratic caucus, where they constantly work to pull caucus positions ever rightward, farther and farther away from the Democratic base. In committees you constantly have corporate shills-- which, in the end, is what all Blue Dogs are-- undercutting all attempts to work on behalf of regular American families.
I spoke to two DCCC-endorsed candidates yesterday who told me that when they got to Washington for briefings they were forced to listen to warmongering Blue Dog Jane Harman-- perhaps best known for her quote, "I am proud to be introduced as the best Republican in the Democratic Party," a distinction she shares with Joe Lieberman-- on, what else, foreign policy. One candidate told me that he was sickened to hear her reciting talking points he's heard over and over again repeated on Fox News. She and Lieberman were on the radio this week telling an NPR audience that what the U.S. ought to do is expand military operations into Yemen.
An arm of Blue America, Bad Dogs, is dedicated to working toward replacing Blue Dogs like Jane Harman and John Barrow with progressives like Marcy Winograd and Regina Thomas, and toward defeating Blue Dog incumbents like Florida reactionary Lori Edwards.
Ever since Rahm Emanuel's chairmanship, the DCCC has practically been an arm of the Blue Dog caucus, and institutional support within the Democratic Party, particularly from Steny Hoyer, is gigantic. The DCCC always indoctrinates its candidates with Blue Dog messaging and framing courtesy of Third Way, a very reactionary Blue Dog-oriented policy shop-- with leaders like Jane Harman, Blanche Lincoln, Evan Bayh, Tom Carper, Melissa Bean and Mark Pryor, all as firmly under the aegis of corporate overlords as any Republican. On top of that, yesterday six of the most notoriously corrupt K Street lobbyists, including conservative ex-congressmen Bud Cramer (AL) and Charlie Stenholm (TX), formed a new corporately oriented anti-family organization called the Blue Dog Research Forum. Their goal will be to continue pressuring the Democratic caucus to move farther and farther right and to give up on ordinary working families and accept GOP and Big Business guidelines when formulating legislation.
In a letter to Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.), who co-chairs the Blue Dog Coalition, Cramer and Stenholm wrote that they were establishing the organization to “ensure there will always be a forum in Washington to mark that middle ground when it comes to issues affecting the country’s fiscal health.”
The group’s goal is to be an incubator for policy ideas affecting the economy, such as energy, health care, tax policy, national defense and entitlements.
The research forum takes its name from the 54 fiscally conservative Democratic Members who have emerged as a powerful voting bloc on major legislation, but no current lawmaker has been involved in setting it up, according to Cramer, an original Blue Dog and president of the new research forum.
“They actually legally cannot dictate control or dominate what happens here,” Cramer said. “We can involve them. We can involve any Member in the policy forums we will carry forward, and we hope to be able to do that.”
However, as the lobbyists quietly set up the organization over the past several months, they have kept Blue Dog leadership generally informed. And Cramer, who now lobbies at Wexler & Walker Public Policy Associates, said the Members have been supportive so far.
In addition to Stenholm-- who works at Olsson, Frank & Weeda-- and Cramer, the board of directors for the new venture includes Jeff Murray of the C2 Group, Vickie Walling of Prime Policy Group, Stacey Alexander of Elmendorf Strategies and Libby Greer of Cauthen, Forbes & Williams.
Murray, who serves as the forum’s treasurer, said he expects to send out solicitations in the near future asking potential corporate, union and other donors for pledges worth about $10,000 each to participate... “A lot of ideas don’t get to see the light of day,” said Greer, former chief of staff to Blue Dog Rep. Allen Boyd (Fla.). “We want to give them a place to breathe.”
Greer and Boyd worked closely with George W. Bush to destroy Social Security, for example, an idea that was embraced by Wall Street, of course, but rejected by most of Congress and most of the public.
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