Thursday, March 17, 2011

Money And Influence In The Republican Party

Ezra: "the theory that Republicans were extremely responsive to the health-care industry was part of what led to the Obama administration’s effort to secure the support or neutrality of every major health-related interest group. Similarly, their sense that the Chamber of Commerce and other business groups could drive Republicans was important while they were constructing the stimulus. As it happened, they largely succeeded on winning industry neutrality both times, but that meant they ended up giving away a lot of good policy away in return for corporate support that led to approximately no Republican votes."

I'm curious whether it led to any Democratic votes. While there's a large number of Democratic Senators who would've voted for any comprehensive health care reform package anyway, and who would've been even more excited to vote for a better one, there are plenty who could've been influenced by the insurance industry, or more likely, the drugmakers, hospitals, or doctors. If we got any votes, it's from these people. (They're the kinds of Democrats we'd like to replace, but if they're Kay Hagan or somebody like that who's useful for keeping a NC Senate seat in Democratic hands, we might have to live with them. The worst Democrats are like Republicans who can be bought, which means they're better than actual Republicans.)

As for the Republicans, I think the money plays pretty important role here, even if (as Ezra says) it isn't direct. Conservative interest groups and donors, like the Koch Brothers and the Chamber of Commerce, spent a lot of money promoting an ideology that the right-wing base absorbed. Having done that, they could offer their official neutrality on health care legislation as a bargaining chip while the institutions they'd funded and Republican primary voters forced any wayward GOP Senators to take a hard line against the legislation. It's not like right-wing think tanks looked at trade industry organizations and decided that they should be neutral or supportive of Obama's plan. The Tea Party wasn't going to calm down just because PhRMA got on board.

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