WASHINGTON — Stormy weather in Congress is threatening President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, but some see a silver lining: the lobbyists are still mostly on board....
The industry groups have invested heavily to make sure their views get taken into account. The health care sector gave $167 million in campaign contributions to congressional candidates in the 2008 election cycle, according to the watchdog group OpenSecrets.org. Health care companies poured $484 million into lobbying efforts in 2008, and are on pace to exceed that this year.
Separately, the drug companies have offered up $80 billion over 10 years to reduce prescription costs of seniors if a deal goes through, while major hospital groups agreed to a $155-billion reduction in Medicare and Medicaid payments to free up funds that would help subsidize coverage for the uninsured.
The political infighting on Capitol Hill has strengthened the hand of the health care groups, since liberals have been thwarted so far in their attempts to win speedy passage of the legislation through the House and Senate.
Lest there be a temptation to say, Well, that's just campaign contributions to Congress, not the President, we should recall that candidate Barack Obama received $1,262,224 in contributions from the health care industry in 2008, along with $11,532,962 from health care professionals, $43,440,058 from attorneys and lobbyists, and $3,167,003 from commercial banks.
That's, uh, over $59 million to the Obama campaign from parties with a special interest in heatlh care reform.
[Note: if you don't understand why commercial banks like Goldman Sachs have an interest in health care reform, you haven't been watching closely.]
So if all you single-payer advocates are wondering why you aren't at the table, the answer is simple: you didn't pay for the chair.
Health care "reform" will probably pass sometime this fall, but those of you who think it will (a) cover everybody or (b) seriously reduce the profits of insurance companies or big pharmaceutical companies should think again.
Maybe President Obama will at least kiss his supporters at the end of the process.