Spat puts conservative groups in the spotlight
December 12th, 2013
02:18 PM ET
4 months ago

Spat puts conservative groups in the spotlight

Washington (CNN) - Club for Growth, Heritage Action for America, and Americans for Prosperity. They're three leading conservative advocacy groups that are involved in a rare public war of words with House Speaker John Boehner over a bipartisan budget deal.

Boehner on Thursday escalated his criticism of the organizations, which are vehemently opposed to the compromise struck by Republican House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and his Democratic Senate counterpart Patty Murray.

He told reporters the groups had lost credibility by slamming the deal even before it was announced on Tuesday night.

"Listen, I take my fair share of criticism from the right and from the left.  You know, I came here to fight for a smaller, less costly, more accountable federal government and this budget agreement takes giant steps in the right direction. It is not everything I wanted. But when groups come out and criticize an agreement they have never seen you begin to wonder just how credible those actions are," Boehner said in responding to a question from CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash.

(The Club for Growth did not announce its opposition to the deal until after it was released)

"There should be room within the Republican party for honest disagreements on policy, without it devolving into name calling and accusations about people's motives," Heritage Action for America CEO Michael Needham told Bash, in response to the Speaker's comments.

While they are far from household names for most Americans, these groups are very influential among many Republican primary voters, and among GOP lawmakers in Congress.

"These groups have tremendous ability to sway the Republican conference towards their policy priorities," said Republican strategist Ron Bonjean, who served as communications director for House Speaker Dennis Hastert and press secretary for Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott.

"They have an amazing access to GOP primary voters across the country who are paying attention to what's going on. Most Republican members are very concerned about the opinions of these groups, because they highlight how those lawmakers vote on key issues, and let the voters back home know how their members of Congress are voting," added Bonjean.

The groups, which have been effectively arguing against compromise in the budget battles on Capitol Hill the past three years, were also strong advocates in September of the hardline stance over defunding the national health care law that resulted in the first partial federal government shutdown in nearly two decades.

Besides taking stances on key congressional legislation, two of the groups - Club for Growth, and Americans for Prosperity - also endorse and support fiscal conservative candidates in Republican primaries and general elections. And with many House Republicans more fearful of a primary challenge from the right than a Democratic opponent in the general election, these groups wield even more influence.

"The primary election to many of them is the general election," Bonjean said.

So who are these groups.

Club for Growth was formed in 1999. The non-profit fiscally conservative group focuses on cutting taxes and spurring economic growth. The group has two political arms, a traditional political action committee and Club for Growth Action, a super PAC.

Americans for Prosperity is a conservative advocacy group formed in 2004. It's a major player and spends big bucks in backing conservative candidates and causes. The group was founded and is supported by Charles and David Koch, the billionaire industrialists.

Heritage Action for America is the new player on the block. The political advocacy group was formed in 2010 and is a sister organization of the Heritage Foundation, one of the oldest and most important conservative think tanks. While Heritage Action takes sides on legislative issues, it does not back candidates. The group has become more active in the year since former Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina took over as head of Heritage.

soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. Donna

    Just saying, you are woefully uninformed, or just being paid?

    December 12, 2013 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  2. Thomas

    @Donna
    Enough teaparty tools, this president has restored our economy:, despite nonstop attempts by the right, thank you Mr. President, you have my vote. Greatest president ever, can't wait gir Hillary to take over in 16, out with the lying gop
    ======

    Welcome Home !
    I'm glad your out of your coma .

    December 12, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    "... ... But when groups come out and criticize an agreement they have never seen you begin to wonder just how credible those actions are," Boehner said in responding to a question from CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash.
    ---------
    It almost sounds like he's talking about Senate Republicans announcing that they oppose the President's political appointments before someone's even been nominated.

    December 12, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  4. Dale Zalewski

    The Democrats in the house are probably toasting with, "Confusion to our enemies!"

    December 12, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  5. RK

    This is not the first time a small group has held a country hostage. Shades of the 1930's.

    December 12, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  6. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    (When Rep. Farrell Issac(R), Chairman of Oversight Committee, agrees with Boehner and other non teaparty Republicans something bigger than all of them is about to be disclosed and they are running for cover. Remember Issac always wants to bring charges against any Democrat. Hold on to your seat.

    December 12, 2013 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  7. Kevin

    I applaud Boehner for this. The response from the Michael Needham is embarrassing – I certainly don't see any "name-calling" and the fact that he's objecting to people questioning his [group's] motives is very telling.

    December 12, 2013 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  8. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    That's should be DARRELL ISSA.

    December 12, 2013 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  9. rdg18

    I would vote NO. Too much spending in this budget.

    December 12, 2013 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  10. simplyput

    Maybe if the *Birther-in-Chief* can gain the WH, the politics of personal destruction can rule again! Bohner has authorized 3TRILLION in spending since March, 2010. He has to go. I don't do tea, but I understand balancing a checkbook, which liberals don't. Go Hillary, and keep Pedesta the Molesta on at the WH. He served Bill well.

    December 12, 2013 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  11. Ol' Yeller

    I think we may have two Donna's on here- yin and yang...
    Smart and crazy...

    But, I digress....
    I find it very entertaining that the party which encouraged and allowed these crazed te aba ggers to come into power are now having to try and rein them in.
    Is it too late?
    I'm torn... they have done much damage to the American taxpayer so far, and I have no doubt they have every intention of doing more. But at the same time, it is quite entertaining to see the republicants twisting in the wind and the weak pitiful defenses of the righties (Donna- the crazy one- was falling back to blaming Bill Clinton for stuff a thread or two back- HILARIOUS).
    What will really be precious is when the primaries roll around. The republicants will spend millions beating on one another and the end result... A bruised battered, and broke incumbent. Or a bruised battered, and broke insane loony bird who couldn't win in a general election with the help of the SCOTUS.
    Ahhhhhh.... let the good times roll....

    December 12, 2013 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  12. TONE

    Hi Donna, and Just Saying welcome to Cnn blog.

    December 12, 2013 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Thomas

    @Donna
    Enough teaparty tools, this president has restored our economy:, despite nonstop attempts by the right, thank you Mr. President, you have my vote. Greatest president ever, can't wait gir Hillary to take over in 16, out with the lying gop
    ======

    Welcome Home !
    I'm glad your out of your coma .
    ----------------------------------
    Don't be fooled. It's one of those neo-libertarians thinking that they are so clever, trying sow discord and dissent, and fooling themselves into believing that no one is the wiser.

    December 12, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  14. Name carl

    The Tepublicans have lost it. The GOP Needs voted out in 2014.

    December 12, 2013 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  15. scarf

    Anybody who is in favor of a smaller federal deficit should have been in favor of the "Grand Bargain" of over a year ago. It cut the deficit much more than the "sequester" which occurred instead. Unfortunately, the GOP is only in favor of cutting spending and taxes, usually the latter more than the former, thus actually INCREASING the deficit. The "Grand Bargain" failed because Boehner didn't have the cajones to accept a modest tax increase combined with significant spending cuts. It's time to admit that neither high taxes nor high spending will topple the Republic, but high deficits will.

    December 12, 2013 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  16. Marie MD

    Does this mean that the koch brothers are now spending millions on more moderate repugs and not their own teaklan spawned party?
    How,low can these people go?

    December 12, 2013 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  17. O'drama ya Mama

    "These groups have tremendous ability to sway the Republican conference towards their policy priorities,"

    "The groups, which have been effectively arguing against compromise in the budget battles on Capitol Hill the past three years, were also strong advocates in September of the hardline stance over defunding the national health care law that resulted in the first partial federal government shutdown in nearly two decades."

    Does any one else see something wrong here? Republicans cant help but claim Obama and the Democrats wont compromise while at the same time are catering to these groups that clearly dont want Republicans to compromise. Hypocrisy at its best

    December 12, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  18. Rudy NYC

    Ol' Yeller wrote:

    ... ... I'm torn... they have done much damage to the American taxpayer so far, and I have no doubt they have every intention of doing more. ... ...
    --------------------------
    Economic destruction is the goal. You're dealing with uber-wealthy vulture capitalists. MItt Romney spilled the beans on that back in 2008. Romney said "Let Detroit go bankrupt," so that the companies and their resources could be purchased for pennies on the dollar. Around that same time, Romney also spoke about the growing mortgage crisis saying that homeowners should not be saved. He said, "Investors can come in and buy up the properties....."

    Get the idea? Can you see the hand writing on the wall, yet, folks?

    December 12, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  19. Denise

    Definition of "informed" voters in dittohead lala land........those who listen to an uneducated slob, morally bankrupt, pill popping, draft dodgin Boss Hogg for their talking points.....or, if they're really fortunate and have an hd tv, they can study and analyze charts generated from yet another uneducated, dropout like Glenn (Bozo The Clown) Beck.....when you buy a house, you go to an expert for your loan.......why listen to someone who knows nothing about the subjects to which they speak.....

    December 12, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  20. parshman

    Wow. Criticizing a budget before reading it...is that something like passing a law without reading it? Kinda like Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats?

    December 12, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  21. Hector Slagg

    Well,
    I'm not sure if this Budget is as good as it can be but I do know there need to be as much fiscal responsibility as possible or the whole shooting match will look much like Rome during Nero. If you depend on the government for you lively hood you might want to begin taking more responsibility for your welfare.

    Over the last 100 years the liberal's have been selling Snake Oil. Too many of you bought it. So now the mess we are in is showing up in Spades. You bought it, now live with it. Before the Ink is dry on this agreement they will be clammering to raise the Debt Limit, again.
    sooner or later you will figure the Liberal's aren't your friends.

    December 12, 2013 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
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