Sunday, February 28, 2010

Interest Groups (not healthcare...interest groups)

Washington interest groups have burst back into action in hopes of bolstering or defeating a new Democratic push on health-care reform legislation, sparking another wave of rallies, lobbying efforts and costly advertising campaigns.

The fresh round offers a clear signal that the industries and advocacy groups most likely to be affected view the coming weeks as the final battle in determining whether Democratic proposals become law.

Their efforts suggest a return to the frenzied pace of last year's health-care debate, which prompted more than $200 million in advocacy ads and broke records for lobbying. Companies and trade groups last year hired more than 4,500 lobbyists to influence health reform -- amounting to about eight lobbyists for each member of Congress, according to an analysis released last week by the Center for Public Integrity.

Reacting to President Obama's recent statements that he will move ahead with legislation, health insurance companies have enlisted hundreds of lobbyists in a full-court press against the proposed overhaul, which would force dramatic cuts and increased regulation on the industry. At the same time, insurers are pushing back against a separate bill approved by the House last week that would remove the industry's antitrust exemption.

Pharmaceutical lobbyists are also targeting Obama's plan, which includes administration proposals to secure an extra $10 billion in cuts from the industry and to ban deals between brand-name and generic drugmakers that keep cheaper medicines off the market.

The ramped-up effort is particularly evident among conservative advocacy organizations, many of which had optimistically halted spending after Democratic reform plans were cast into doubt by the January loss of a Senate seat in Massachusetts. The 60 Plus Association, a conservative group, announced a $500,000 television advertising campaign last week aimed at 18 centrist House Democrats, all of whom voted in favor of reform legislation last fall but whose support is now seen as wobbly.

The National Right To Life Committee -- which strongly opposes the Senate version of the health-care package -- has launched its own grass-roots campaign to pressure dozens of antiabortion Democrats in the House, who are crucial to passage of a final bill. Americans for Prosperity, a conservative Arlington-based group, also says it bought $250,000 worth of television advertising last week and is laying plans for more ads and rallies in March.

"I think a lot of people thought we had it licked, so it was natural to let up a little bit," said Tim Phillips, president of the Arlington group, which organized hundreds of antireform demonstrations over the past year. "All those thoughts are gone now. We are re-engaged in a big way."

Democratic and liberal activist groups, meanwhile, are rallying with their own efforts in hopes of pushing legislation across the finish line., for example, said that a "virtual march" organized Tuesday bombarded lawmakers with more than 1 million pro-reform e-mails. The group also released a television ad Friday targeting House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) for opposing the antitrust bill.

"We have the votes; let's get it done," said Ilyse Hogue, the group's political advocacy director. "We're focused on sending that clear message to the House and Senate."

One glaring exception to the renewed activity is AARP, the 40 million-member seniors group, which has spent millions on advertising and other efforts over the past year in favor of Obama's health-care plans. A. Barry Rand, the group's chief executive, called on other groups last week to lower the temperature in the debate so that "compromise is possible."


Famigliettim said...

Creo que los grupos de interesantes son muy importante por el sociedad de political. los grupos hacen muchos personas a ayudar los podemos obtienen atencion de el publico. los grupos necesitan los politicos que ganaron los electiones porque tienen representativos en el congreso para sus actividades ganan resultos.

Famigliettim said...

i was in spanish class and my ^*(*^ teacher wanted us to blog in spanish... which i did.

Mr. Bretzmann said...

Mike thinks that the interest groups are very important in politics. They do a lot and help make it possible to get the public's attention (on certain topics). The interest groups need the politicians to win elections because then they have representatives in congress so they can get results for their activities.

It loses something in the translation. Lo siento.

ayork said...

The interest groups will decide this bill. No other factor will weigh in as heavily. From this article, it seems as if the Republican interest groups have much more backing and money to throw at their cause. Even though the AARP has a lot of power, the Democrats will need to find some new sources of income to help keep their senators and representatives from deserting. Even if this bill does pass, the interest groups will make sure that it is watered down.

I know I'm not supposed to delve into the topic of health care too much (as seen by the parenthetical expression in the title), but I just wanted to articulate an interesting article that I was reading in newsweek when I was supposed to be paying attention. The article claimed that the American people are too afraid to make initial sacrifices for later rewards--and our senators mimic them. Relating this to health care, one can see how the senators fear to bring too much on the American people at once. This is quite a shame, because legislation that may be truly beneficial to the population will be hardpressed to pass. Couple that information with the lobbyists and interest groups that dislike the bill and you'll find that the bill seems doomed.

aprichard said...

I nevrer actually read the article posted until today, I some how missed it. 4,500 lobbyists, 8 to 1 lobbyist to representatives. That is a crazy excessive amount. If that isn't a waste of money, Im not sure what is. As for the intrest groups, I agree with ayork; it seems legitimate to say that there is no doubt intrest groups will decide the bill. This is a pity and I believe it to be incredibly ironic because the healthcare bill is supposed to be helping people, but all the public intrest groups that claim to speak for America and help America, seem to be doing the opposite. Though it is true that politics requires intrest groups, it appears that there should be a funding cap on the intrest groups. Seriously, 500,000 to convince 18 Democrats! However, even if there was a funding cap on organizations towards lobbying, I'm sure that they would just branch into more smaller organizations that all ultimately drew money from the same pot so that they could continue spending the same amount of money. There does not appear to be any moderation in this bill what so ever. :(

klatour said...

The interest groups, with regards to healthcare, raised over $200 million dollars. That's an absolutely insane amount of money. This exemplifies the primary job of interest groups
Also, it says in the article that "The National Right to Life Committee" would not approve of the health-care package, but since the executive order Obama is making, they shouldn't be too bothered.
I also like the there is a website about healthcare called That is awesome. Compromise obviously was possible so good thing that's finally done with.
The interest groups, however, stuck to exactly what it is supposed to because it while it does have an ideological affiliation, it is not trying to specifically get anyone into office! It is only there to affect and change public policy.

K-Iglinski said...

I believe taht the interest groups will be the main factor in this bill. They are the 4500 taht will weight the biggest in the bill. They will vote and stick to waht they believe is the best corse of action based on what they are told to do by the people with the checkbooks that pay them there saleries.