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Re: Interest groups

My "Twilight of the Interest Groups" post has provoked a bunch of incorrect readings, which almost certainly means that I wrote it poorly. But to be clear, I was making three points:

1) There's been an extraordinary amount of interest group consensus -- or maybe the better word would be neutrality -- on health-care reform. Even the groups that are opposed, like the insurers, are only mildly opposed.

2) That consensus has not driven any Republican votes despite the obvious rewards available to an interest group able to deliver three Republican senators.

3) That consensus has also not affected public perceptions of the bill. That's what "twilight of the interest groups" referred to. There might have been a time when getting doctors, AARP, hospitals, labor, pharmaceutical companies, and 60 senators on the same side of a piece of legislation would have signaled that this is a moderate, consensus-oriented document that's respectful of the status quo. But in this case, the ferocious opposition of Republicans drove public perceptions about whether the legislation was moderate or not. Whatever signaling power these groups once had (if they indeed had any), it's gone now.

By Ezra Klein  |  March 20, 2010; 4:26 PM ET
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Ahhh.... I think it is a mistake to say these groups' influence is "gone now" as in now and forever (could be my misread). They failed to exercise it in this case or, maybe more accurately, the anti-reform groups were more successful at mobilizing. That doesn't mean they will always be unsuccessful.

Given the successful campaign to misinform the American public, I really don't think you can count any group out--the facts (or legitimate projections) have little bearing on the argument except for possibly a sliver of people in the middle who are both informed and undecided, I haven't met one of those in a very long time. If one of those groups is willing and able to craft a brilliant message next go around, they may be able to exert some influence... But there really was no way the absence of resistance is going to be more influential than (a) heartfelt appeals and real hardship on one side and (b) appeals to "Freedom" on the other. The vast majority of people aren't paying enought attention and many obivously abandoned rationality long ago - Members of Congress included.

Posted by: kcar1 | March 20, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

honestly who is going to be against this other than republicans and businesses?

Insurers get to keep their anti-trust exemption, 30 million NEW customers and a blunted MLR.

doctors are promised their doc fix and a half-hearted attempt to end FFS.

Pharma gets BILLIONS upon BILLIONS in biologics money over the next 10 years as well as the 30 million new people to write scripts on the public dime.

who could be against this other than Republicans(only because they're power hungry), business because they'll be forced to offer healthcare to many people they're not already and the taxpayer who will have to pay for this.

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 20, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse

This post is a joke, right? The reason these interest groups all support this is not because they think it is good policy, but because they've all been *bought off*. That is so transparently obvious (pharma was promised their "contribution" to reform would only be $80 billion, the insurance industry was promised tens of millions of new customers, AARP's branded insurance was protected and given special treatment, labor was given pretty much everything they wanted...) that I suspect the only way you could have written this post is that you were kidding. Well its not funny. This has been a disgusting enterprise in special interest politics.

Posted by: joeb31 | March 21, 2010 12:21 AM | Report abuse

Public perception isn't driven by endorsements but rather by publicity, which in turn is a function of media in all its diversity. The Tea Party efforts got considerable attention because they were colorful and dramatic in a way that no endorsement by an interest group will ever be. Opposition to the bill from the left, due to the leck of a public option and the requirement that people enter into a contract with a private corporation was hardly commented on.
When President Obama got onto the stump and began speaking for the bill, there was a perceptible change in the polls, not because there was anything new, but because of his always effective speaking style, and the news coverage.

Also, Timothy Noah, in Slate, has discussed the validity of at least some reports on opinion polls and their representation of public opinion. To the extent that we have opinions, they are the result of our exposures, and if the opposition makes it case more colorfully than those supporting the bill, or the news is presented by comentators as opposed to reporters, opinion can't help but be skewed.

Posted by: su10 | March 21, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Ezra Klein wrote:

"My "Twilight of the Interest Groups" post has provoked a bunch of INCORRECT READINGS [emphasis added], which almost certainly means that I wrote it poorly."

How can the readings criticizing (or supporting) your original post be "incorrect" when you provided a poorly written post for others to interpret?

Posted by: szielinski1 | March 21, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

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