Ezra Klein on the Vicissitudes of Romneycare
Ezra Klein - Twilight of the interest groups: This year, the Obama administration succeeded at neutralizing every single industry. Pharma supports the bill. Insurers are incoherent on it, but there's not a ferocious and united campaign to kill the proposal. The American Medical Association has endorsed the Senate bill. The hospitals have endorsed the bill. Labor has endorsed the bill. The business community is split, with larger employers holding their fire. You can take that as a critique of the bill's deals and concessions. But it represents a remarkable level of industry consensus. And it's been almost meaningless when it's come to Republican support. For all that liberals think the GOP is owned by insurers and pharmaceutical companies, this battle has been proof positive that they are owned by their base.... Partisan incentives proved far stronger than industry interests.
The secondary lesson of this was that we really judge the extremism of legislation based on the positioning of Republicans and Democrats. If I'd told you that the Obama administration was going to release a health-care bill that would attract every Senate Democrat -- from Bernie Sanders and Barbara Boxer to Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman -- and either endorsements or neutrality from the American Medical Association, the hospital industry, the pharmaceutical industry, AARP, labor, and much of the insurance industry (though they're press releases have become more oppositional recently), you'd have thought that was a pretty moderate, consensus-oriented bill. Which it is! But most Americans don't think that because the Republicans decided to treat it as the second coming of fascism.
Who is this "we," kemosabe?
I say that you--and by "you" here I mean journalists in general--judge legislation based on positioning. We policy people judge legislation based on what it does. The fact that the American people don't think that it is a moderate, consensus-oriented bill is because you--that is, you journalists--are simply not doing your jobs.
And, of course, the corollary: if the Republican Party does not represent the interests of those Americans who voted for it, what reason is there to keep it?