In an effort to rally the Left behind President Obama, liberal former film critic Roger Ebert writes today that “President Obama Faced down the GOP and the health industry to finally reform American healthcare.”
Believing Obamacare will be good is an understandable position. Believing Obama “faced down … the health industry,” in order to pass the bill is pure fantasy, though.
Some basic facts:
Obama largely let the drug lobby write the bill. I was screaming this at the time, and recently published memos have cemented this fact. The drug lobby isn’t merely a huge part of the health industry’s lobbying force, it’s the single largest part. In 2009 and 2010, Pharma and health products was the No. 1 industry in federal lobbying according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
The Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America spent more on lobbying than any other single-industry lobby group in 2009. Number 2 was the American Medical Association, which also endorsed the bill. In the health sector, No. 3 was the American Hospital Association, which wholeheartedly supported the bill.
The top individual companies on lobbying expenses in 2009 were GE and Pfizer, both of whom also supported the bill.
Insurers, at the end of the day, were the only ones in the industry to oppose the final bill. But they didn’t oppose it from the start — America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) made the opening offer in “reform” right after Obama’s election, calling for the individual mandate, community rating, and guaranteed issue.
But when I write about how much industry benefits from and lobbied for these increases in government, liberal bloggers like Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias accuse me of playing “guilt by corporate association.”
In the past, Klein framed it this way:
Democrats have discovered this somewhat-unfair but extremely effective political tactic, and Carney is trying to use it against them.
That’s not right at all. First, when it comes to health-care, the liberals are flat out incorrect, and I am correcting them. We’re not using the same tactic. Ebert, vanden Heuvel, and Obama are using error. I’m using fact.
Second, it’s noteworthy that Klein and his ilk, as far as I can tell, draw attention to their problems with the cui bono question only when I’m the one asking it.