Another Look at Who Runs the Country

26 Apr

A few weeks ago, I wrote a short post exploring the results of a simple analysis I conducted to see if the House votes on health care could be predicted. What I found, essentially, was that political divisions–not constituents’ needs or lobbyists’ money–made the difference. In a two-part series (here and here), Maggie Mahar of the HealthBeat blog reaches similar conclusions without using all the fancy econometric methods I employed. She does one more thing, too, which is to compare and contrast the Obama health reform effort with the Clinton health reform effort. Of course, Clinton’s effort failed, whereas Obama’s succeeded, but the differences don’t stop there.

As Mahar points out, in 1994 “Lobbyists played a much, much larger role in maiming and then killing reform [than they did in 2009]. Congress was not so polarized [in 1994]. Quite a few Republicans were willing to join Clinton in forging a health care reform bill that would not have been that different from the legislation just passed–and far less expensive.”

Of course, my model only looked at final support of the bill–and in so doing overlooked important changes in its content. For example, the public option was stripped from the legislation. Did lobbyists’ dollars do that or was it just Joe Lieberman’s ego? And for every apparent lobbying win (PhARMA) there are apparent lobbying losses (hospital industry). So, if anything, lobbying played a part in tweaking the final shape of the bill, but it didn’t affect its ultimate passage. Highly partisan politics are to blame for that.

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Posted by on April 26, 2010 in Uncategorized


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