We need to get special interests out of politics. They spoil everything.
For once President Barack Obama is right: special interests are messing up health care reform. "Every time we are in sight of health insurance reform, the special interests fight back with everything they've got," Obama told us.
You've seen that quote --or read something like it. Obama's made some form of that claim on ABC, CBS and NBC at least a dozen times since he took office. Journalists have taken their lead from the president and restated it another 11 times. MSNBC has repeated the same claim. So has CNN, as recently as Aug. 23. The top five newspapers have done the same thing literally hundreds of times since Obama took office.
And it's all acting. Considering how much TV time this quote has had, Obama ought to be up for an Emmy. Yes, special interests are at play in the health care debate. But most of them --from lawyers to unions to the companies Obama bullied in to compromise --are now all on his side.
He is Don Quixote and the windmills fly his banner. But he's still out there whining about those evil special interests --and the pro-Obama mainstream media repeat the claims like so many public relations flacks. What's more amazing is that Obama consciously pursued each group for individual deals, made the deals and then acted upset when conservatives still mustered opposition.
The term "special interests" became political cover for Obama so he could rationalize the fact that millions of Americans still opposed his health care agenda. It was just one of many code words like "AstroTurf" and "hate" that the left use to try to undermine opponents.
CNN tried to delve into the "special interests" during its Aug. 23 special called "Extreme Challenges: Health Care" where anchor Anderson Cooper led a biased panel of experts to analyze the "vital" issue of health care. Of course the panel included CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Obama's first nominee for surgeon general and a man who backs an obesity tax. Two others, David Gergen and BET's Pamela Gentry, worked in the Clinton White House, though Gergen also worked for Reagan.
But the panel managed to touch on the big issue. Most of the groups that are involved in health care reform have already made deals to work with Obama. Take a look at SOME major players:
- The pharmaceutical industry --They fought ClintonCare in 1993. Today, they've got a deal with Dr. O where they claim to cut $80 billion in projected costs and, in return, they commit $150 million to advertise for health care reform. They get a guaranteed hike in their customer base and government won't quibble about drug costs. They aren't just on the Obama team, they've been co-opted into the starting line-up.
- Lawyers --There is no group safer from health care reform than lawyers --except maybe congressmen themselves. There will be no tort reform as part of health care reform. Even Gupta admitted that "defensive medicine" might add as much as "up to 15 percent of health care costs." But Democrats owe much to lawyers and that settles that.
- Big business --They are actually working with Obama, hoping to offload their costs onto taxpayers.
The one lone "special interest" group that isn't totally on Obama's side is insurance companies. Even then, Aetna CEO Ron Williams has been very supportive of the president. He even appeared on ABC's trumped up health care panel with the president. So when Obama criticized opponents as trying to stop reform, he was calling out just a few insurance companies as "funding in opposition," according to The New York Times.
Those insurance companies are battling the public option but not Obama's idea of reform. Even that little bit of opposition is already getting them bullied by Congress. FOX News reported that House Democrats" sent 52 letters to health insurers requesting financial records for a House committee's investigation." That Rep. Henry Waxman-led salary witch hunt is a direct response from Congress to the one group that dare oppose Obama at all.
It's become standard operating procedure for team Obama. Identify anyone who dares oppose the White House and then target them for attack by left-wing groups, the media and Congress. The difference here is that Obama thought he had bought off or intimidated all of his opposition. Health care reform should have had clear sailing.
When that proved wrong, he and his allies were especially aggressive trying to bash their remaining opponents. In the process, the interests that are being served belong to anyone who does exactly what Obama wants. And the "special interests" of the public that wants government out of health care just don't matter.
Isn't that special?
Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Fellow and the Media Research Center's Vice President for Business and Culture. His column appears each week on The Fox Forum and he can be seen on Foxnews.com's "Strategy Room." He can also be found as dangainor on Twitter and FaceBook.