It's unlikely that Howard Dean intended to expose one of his party's greatest weaknesses in August 2009 when he explained why Obamacare could not include a tort reform provision that experts said could save up to $400 billion in health care costs.
Speaking at a Northern Virginia town hall meeting, the former Democratic presidential candidate and Democratic National Committee chairman stunned many in the nation's capitol with these unexpected words:
"Here's why tort reform is not in the bill. When you go to pass a really enormous bill like that, the more stuff you put into it, the more enemies you make. And the reason the tort reform is not in the bill is because the people who wrote it did not want to take on the trial lawyers in addition to everyone else they were taking on and that is the plain and simple truth."
Dean's admission was especially shocking because for years study after study has shown that doctors are forced to practice defensive medicine -- ordering unneeded tests and procedures in case they were sued by trial lawyers looking for deep pockets and big paydays that come with multimillion-dollar settlements. Tort reforms that put limits on such unrestrained class-action medical lawsuits by trial lawyers would save $40 billion annually, and up to $400 billion over a decade.
But President Obama and his Democratic congressional allies in the 111th Congress dared not alienate the Big Lawyers special interest of class-action trial attorneys. The lawyers and three other special interests - Big Labor union leaders, Big Green environmentalists, and Big Insiders with billions of dollars in personal wealth and foundation grants -- together essentially dictate what Democrats can and cannot support on many key public policy issues.
Call them the Four Horsemen of the coming Democratic apocalypse.
These four groups provide most of the campaign funding and workers, political and policy expertise, legal and regulatory muscle, and strategic communications for the Democratic Party. Consequently, most Democrats are prisoners of a narrow agenda of constantly growing government budgets, regulation and taxing.
This development comes at a time when public opinion surveys show conservatives, who favor less government, outnumber liberals by about two-to-one. In other words, the special interests are taking the Democrats in the opposite direction favored by most Americans.
This Examiner Special Report is about the plain truth of who owns the Democrats, beginning today with Douglas Schoen, former adviser to President Clinton, a clear voice from among a growing band of loyalists who fear the special interests are making it all but impossible for Democrats to attract support from moderates and independents.
Schoen also exlains what President Obama must do to save his party and his presidency. Examiner columnist and political power structures expert Ron Arnold analyzes how the revolving doors swing between special interest and the government. And I examine the present state of the Democratic National Committee.
And that's just today! See the adjoining series box for a taste of what's coming Wednesday and Thursday:
Tomorrow, Examiner contributor Ron Arnold, one of the nation's top experts on the structure of political power in America, lays out the who's who of the Democratic Party's power brokers and the roots of their respective agendas. We'll also look back at the last time Democrats were held hostage by narrow interests.
On Thursday, a bevy of analysts examiner the policies Democratic officeholders and seekers are expected to support and those that must be opposed no matter what public opinion might reveal. And we will look at the billions of dollars these four special interests continually pump into Democratic coffers.
The sidebar above will be inside every one of these pieces and can help you easily navigate the report as it is published.
Mark Tapscott is editorial page editor of The Washington Examiner.