Republican 'Crossroads' Group Eyes Health Care Law

Crossroads GPS, the social welfare group spending tens of millions of dollars attacking President Obama, held a forum on healthcare. It may be an attempt to show its interest in issues rather than just politics.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Crossroads GPS is a conservative group best known for bombarding President Obama with 30-second issue ads. The group struck a less strident tone in an event they held today. Crossroads convened several Republican and conservative experts on health care. The issue, what happens next now that the Supreme Court has upheld the Obama health care law.

NPR's Peter Overby has this report.

PETER OVERBY, BYLINE: Crossroads GPS president Steven Law delineated all the things that Conservatives don't like in the health care law. For Crossroads, he said, it adds up to this.

STEVEN LAW: Rolling back ObamaCare must be one of our top priorities on our issue agenda this year and next. One thing that will require is that we build strong momentum for dismantling ObamaCare this year.

OVERBY: Law didn't mention the elections. Crossroads GPS operates under IRS rules for tax-exempt social welfare organizations. The vast majority of such entities are local civil groups, but Crossroads and the event's cosponsor, the American Action Network, are among a handful of social welfare organizations that raise millions of dollars to play in the national political arena. Their money comes in unlimited contributions from anonymous donors.

The investigative group Center for Public Integrity says Crossroads GPS has already spent $44 million in the campaign. The tax code, meanwhile, says social welfare organizations cannot focus on partisan politics.

Today's discussion was strong on what's defective in the health care law, not so strong on how to replace it. Here's the congressional forecast from Georgia Republican Tom Price.

REPRESENTATIVE TOM PRICE: There are countless proposals and each individual in their own district, in their own explanation to their constituents, is easily able to say these are the things that I believe. These are the kinds of bills that I would support.

OVERBY: About 70 people attended the event. While it was under way, Crossroads GPS separately announced a new advertising blitz - a, quote, issue advocacy push in three states. Spokesman Nate Hodson said the ads weren't related to the event.

NATE HODSON: They're two separate events. You know, this event was planned and those ads just happened to be released today.

OVERBY: Here's one of the ads aimed at Democratic Senator Jon Tester in Montana.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Montana said no to ObamaCare, but Jon Tester voted yes. ObamaCare cuts Medicare spending by 500 billion, gives a board of unelected bureaucrats the power to restrict seniors' care...

OVERBY: The rooms and breakfast for today's issue discussion cost about $7,000. Crossroads says the new ads cost two and a half million.

Peter Overby, NPR News, Washington.

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