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The $52 Million Question

GR2009080500419.gifI've been following this stuff pretty closely, but I still find the sums a bit shocking. So far, various groups have spent $52 million on ads related to health-care reform. That's some stimulus. The graph you see on the right comes from this morning's Washington Post and shows the districts with the heaviest ad buys. Las Vegas leads, because Harry Reid is considered vulnerable, and if Republicans can scare the majority leader, they can limit his range of action. The other senators being targeted are Max Baucus, Olympia Snowe and Mary Landrieu.

It's not surprising that the heaviest spending is flowing toward swing votes and power players. But that list is largely made up of Democrats whom various groups want to scare out of voting, or at least out of fighting, for an ambitious health-care reform package. Reformers haven't settled on a vulnerable Republican that they can focus fire on and either turn into a supporter of health-care reform or make an example of in the next election.

Put another way, we can all name Democrats who are increasingly afraid of voting for this bill. Are any Republicans afraid of voting against it?

By Ezra Klein  |  August 5, 2009; 2:31 PM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Comments

"Are any Republicans afraid of voting against it?"

Well, possibly Olympia Snow, but you mentioned her as targeted by Republicans too.

Posted by: Castorp1 | August 5, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

If you read the article closely, you'll note that most of the spending is PRO reform.

Posted by: GRKarr | August 5, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, has it ever occurred to you that some people might actually believe that current health reform proposals will make health care worse for most people? Or are you taking the Paul Krugman route and thinking your opponents stupid and evil?

Posted by: kingstu01 | August 5, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Ben Nelson threatened the pro-reform people that he would kill health care, so more groups joined in a tripled the spending. Ben Nelson was reminded "it's not all about him."

The blue dogs have much more to lose by voting against this than for it. A health reform failure means the Dems will be put of power in one election cycle, and extinct as a viable party. Olympia Snow comes from a Blue State, so I suspect she wants to be a reform player, or at least give the appearance that she is a player. I would like to believe she actually has some intentions that favor her constituency rather than AHIP or Pharma alone.

Posted by: cmpnwtr | August 5, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

A follow-up, Ezra. Your post has the false premise that there is a single health reform bill to be voted for at present. There isn't one. There are a handful with differences in substance, each of which would be amended before the final product.

Posted by: cmpnwtr | August 5, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

I might be wrong, but I believe a lot of the resistance to healthcare reform, based on the key components most Democrats want in the bill, especially a public option, comes from people who aren't necessarily connected with the Republican Party, or, at least, not guided by the Republican Party. I think when the compromises are made, there will be a good number of Republican votes, because it will be framed as -- something had to be done, because the the present system is unsustainable. Some Republicans will not take the chance of being seen as obstacles and do-nothings. I believe the compromise will be weak originally, but it will allow tinkering so that the end result is a single payer system. If it becomes obvious that this is what's happening, general resistance resistance to government will increase as both parties lose members to the growing number of independents.

Posted by: mdfarmer | August 5, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

You know the pro-nationalization groups (be honest) are spending just as much as the anti-nationalization groups. I don't like how you and the Post story create the impression that the anti-nationalization groups are spending all the money.

52 million could have purchased a lot of health care services for all of those people that supposedly have absolutely no access to health care because of the evil insurance companies and the GOP. The waste and distortion of the Congressional protection ring is astounding.

Posted by: fallsmeadjc | August 5, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

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