Health reform: More details emerge on White House-DSCC-industry alliance
Ben Smith has an interesting story in Politico about the alliance between the White House, high-ranking senate Dems, and health care industry lobbyists; a pact that launched a thousand TV spots:
At a meeting last April with corporate lobbyists, aides to President Barack Obama and Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) helped set in motion a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign, primarily financed by industry groups, that has played a key role in bolstering public support for health care reform.
The role Baucus’s chief of staff, Jon Selib, and deputy White House chief of staff Jim Messina played in launching the groups was part of a successful effort by Democrats to enlist traditional enemies of health care reform to their side. No quid pro quo was involved, they insist, as do the lobbyists themselves.
Two groups were created in that meeting: Americans for Quality Stable Health Care and Healthy Economy Now. These groups have since run millions of dollars worth of ads advancing the president's health care reform agenda. The pharmaceutical trade group PhRMA is the largest single contributor to the $24 million project, according to Smith.
A lot of people wondered why the White House gave the Senate Finance Committee the lead role in crafting health care reform legislation. The Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) would have been a more obvious choice.
I doubt it's a coincidence that Finance Chair Max Baucus's chief of staff, Jon Selib, played a key role in creating the coalition that steered millions of industry dollars into the push for reform. The White House swears there was no quid pro quo. But it goes without saying that if industry is paying to pass reform, industry expects a say in what kind of reform we get. Nobody every has to say "I'll pay for your ads if you kill the pubic option" or anything blunt like that.