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1 Blue Dog Democrats on Wed Jun 11, 2014 1:19 pm

gypsy


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http://content.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1913057,00.htmlvery political coalition needs a catchy name. The 1840s had the Know-Nothings, the 1980s had the Boll Weevils, and now there are the Blue Dogs, a group of 52 fiscally conservative Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives whose staunch resistance to the White House's health-care legislation efforts might delay a vote well past President Obama's August deadline.

(Read "Why the Blue Dogs Are Slowing Health-Care Reform.")
When the Democrats lost Congress in 1994, some Representatives blamed the defeat on a party they felt had shifted too far to the left. These disgruntled Democrats decided to form a coalition to stand against their more liberal party members. They held meetings in the office of former Louisiana Representative Billy Tauzin, who reportedly had one of Cajun artist George Rodrigue's famous Blue Dog paintings hanging on his wall. The Blue Dog Coalition's website also lists as an inspiration the 1928 term Yellow Dog, used to refer to a Southern Democrat who was more likely to vote for a dog than for a Republican. Instead of being blinded by party loyalty, this new group complained that it had been "choked blue" by its own party.

Originally comprising just 23 members, mostly from Southern states, the Blue Dogs supported the Republicans' Contract with America, complained that the Clinton White House was too liberal and called for a balanced federal budget. Shortly thereafter, the coalition's co-founders, Tauzin and Louisiana Representative Jimmy Hayes, switched to the Republican Party. Blue Dog numbers expand and contract with every election, and new members are adorably referred to as Blue Pups. Nineteen Blue Pups have won seats in the past two elections. Two were defeated and a handful more retired.

Blue Dogs tend to come from conservative areas of the country, where voters see them as a nonthreatening alternative to Republicans. They frequently provide the only bridge in an increasingly partisan political climate and are highly courted by other Democrats who need their votes to pass bills. Blue Dogs voted in favor of a number of Bush-era proposals, including the war in Iraq and warrantless wiretapping. They forced Obama to institute a pay-as-you-go budget plan for his $787 billion stimulus bill, recently delayed the Waxman-Markey climate-change energy bill and blocked legislation that would benefit unions. And now seven of the eight Blue Dogs on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have threatened to vote down Obama's health-care legislation.

Nancy Pelosi played down the Blue Dogs' threat to the health-care bill, claiming that the $1 trillion overhaul could still be passed without them. But Democratic leaders aren't sure they have enough votes, and this past week has seen both Obama and Pelosi hold lengthy meetings with prominent Blue Dogs in hopes that they can be swayed. At issue are health-care costs (which Blue Dogs think are too high) and rural doctors' Medicare compensation (too low). The Blue Dogs will probably not cause the bill's defeat, but they may have enough leverage to force revisions by other Democrats anxious to get it passed.

we need to oust the Blue dogs this November


2 Re: Blue Dog Democrats on Wed Jun 11, 2014 5:09 pm

gypsy


Moderator
http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/blue-dog-democrats-whittled-down-in-number-are-trying-to-regroup/2014/01/15/37d4e7e2-7dfd-11e3-95c6-0a7aa80874bc_story.htmlThe Blue Dogs want to bark again, maybe even bite one day.

Four years ago, they were the most influential voting bloc on Capitol Hill, more than 50 House Democrats pulling their liberal colleagues to a more centrist, fiscally conservative vision on issues such as health care and Wall Street reforms.


Now, the Blue Dog Coalition is a shell of its former self, shrunken to just 15 members because of political defeat, retirements after redrawn districts left them in enemy territory and just plain exhaustion from the constant battle to stay in office. Several are not running for reelection in November, and a few others are top targets of Republicans.

In danger of losing even more clout, the leading Blue Dogs are regrouping and rebuilding. They are adding four members to their ranks this week — Reps. Ron Barber (Ariz.), Cheri Bustos (Ill.), Nick J. Rahall II (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) — and angling to play a key role in bipartisan talks over the next few years in the belief that the polar tension in the Capitol will thaw.

“We’re in this for the long haul,” Rep. Kurt Schrader (Ore.), co-chairman of the Blue Dogs, said in an interview, predicting that the Democrats could regain the majority only if they are once again competitive in those rural and Southern districts. “We’re the way the Democrats are going to get back into the majority.”

Center Forward, a super PAC, is dedicated to supporting the group’s members in elections, proving effective in 2012 races. In a rare elevation, of one of their own — Joe Donnelly (Ind.) — was elected to the Senate.

The group wants its power to grow and thinks that the tea party influence on House Republicans will begin to wane, leaving many rank-and-file GOP lawmakers searching for Democratic allies to restore the legislative process. “Maybe because of the heightened partisanship in this Congress, you’re seeing more and more members interested in working across the aisle,” Schrader said.

But Republicans aren’t easing up on the Blue Dogs. The four new members come from swing districts that the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is targeting. Just seven Democrats are left in districts that GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney won in 2012, and six of them are Blue Dogs.

Early last year, the NRCC created a task force built around winning those districts through locally focused campaigns, rather than just trying to paint the politicians as clones of President Obama or House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.).

The Republicans believe this helped push two longtime Blue Dogs, Reps. Jim Matheson (Utah) and Mike McIntyre (N.C.), to announce they will retire, and they are waiting to see whether others on the “red zone” target list will do so as well.

“This is an end of an era; moderate Democrats are no longer welcome in President Obama’s and Nancy Pelosi’s party. Without McIntyre and Matheson and moderate candidates like them, Democrats have no path to the majority,” said Andrea Bozek, spokeswoman for the NRCC.

In some ways, the coalition is almost back to its founding days in 1995.

After Republicans made historic gains in 1994, routing longtime Southern strongholds that had tilted to the right, a small group of remaining Democrats from rural districts created the Blue Dogs around the principle of fiscal restraint. Slowly but surely, their ranks grew. By 2006, then-Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) scoured the countryside looking for future Blue Dogs to recruit, leading to a midterm election that vaulted the Democrats and Pelosi into power.

Back then, Blue Dogs kept some interested Democrats out of their coalition. Their internal rules forbid them from becoming more than 20 percent of the full Democratic caucus, because they do not want to water down their centrist views.

In 2009 and 2010, Pelosi spent countless hours negotiating with senior Blue Dogs over the scope of the Affordable Care Act. The group played a key role in eliminating what liberals had considered a key piece of the health-care legislation, a public insurance option, to assure the overall bill’s passage.

The 2010 midterm election took a particularly painful toll on the coalition, with 28 members either losing or retiring, leaving just 25 Blue Dogs at the start of 2011. Those ranks were further diminished in the 2012 election by a redistricting process that was firmly in Republican control in states such as North Carolina.

John Tanner, a former congressman from west Tennessee who co-founded the coalition in 1995, says he is working with normally Republican-leaning interests on Washington’s K Street to deliver a message that they need to support these centrist Democrats because their GOP opponents tilt toward tea party interests that have not been friendly to the business community.


“It’s an opportunity to reach out to a whole new crowd downtown,” Schrader said of the fundraising potential for the four new Blue Dogs.

Now a lobbyist, Tanner said he wants to help the Blue Dogs grow so that they can have a bloc of voters large enough to exploit House Speaker John A. Boehner’s problems with his right flank. That way, if Boehner (Ohio) loses 25 Republicans on a bill, there would be enough Blue Dogs to lend him support if the legislation were tilted more in their direction.

“The Blue Dogs could play a critical role if they could get a critical mass,” Tanner said. No Blue Dogs. wedon
t need fence sitters, you have to stand for something or fall by the way.

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