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Article: Health Care Stand by ‘Blue Dogs' Might End Up a Cash Cow (CQ)

CQ TODAY PRINT EDITION
July 22, 2009 – 10:31 p.m.
Health Care Stand by ‘Blue Dogs’ Might End Up a Cash Cow
By Alan K. Ota, CQ Staff

Democrats in the Blue Dog Coalition might have drawn the ire of party liberals for putting the brakes on the fast-moving health care overhaul, but their political action committee has been raking in contributions from business interests with an eye on reshaping President Obama’s signature initiative.

The Blue Dog Political Action Committee has collected $1.1 million for the 2010 election cycle, more than any other leadership political action committee on Capitol Hill, according to CQ MoneyLine.
The total includes about $300,000 from health care interests, including $158,000 from doctors and other provider groups; $87,000 from makers of drugs and medical devices; and $50,000 from health insurance interests.

For the comparable period in the 2008 cycle, the PAC collected slightly less overall: $875,000, including $218,000 from health care political action committees.

Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona, co chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and other liberal lawmakers have criticized Blue Dogs for not backing a top priority for Obama.

“Whose interest do the Blue Dogs serve if they vote no?” Grijalva said. “They should check with uninsured families and other interests that go beyond K Street.”

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) raised the stakes by announcing plans to run pro-overhaul advertising in some Blue Dog districts.

Despite such pressure, Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota, a Blue Dog who chairs the House Agriculture Committee, predicted that more than half of the 52 members of the fiscally conservative faction would oppose the legislation, as would at least 10 other Democrats.

“For me, it’s not close,” said Peterson, a foe of the bill.
Dennis Cardoza of California, a home-state ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, called the DNC’s pro-overhaul campaign “a waste of money.”
He said he and other Blue Dogs needed to see final details of the bill before deciding. “When the bill is right,” he said, “we’ll support it.”

Cardoza linked the uptick in campaign cash to strong efforts by PAC staff and to the Blue Dogs’ reputation for fairness in weighing issues.

“Everybody deserves a fair hearing,” he said. “Business knows that. Labor knows that.”

Source: CQ Today Print Edition
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