At a meeting last April with corporate lobbyists, aides to President Barack Obama and Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) helped set in motion a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign, primarily financed by industry groups, that has played a key role in bolstering public support for health care reform.
The role Baucus’s chief of staff, Jon Selib, and deputy White House chief of staff Jim Messina played in launching the groups was part of a successful effort by Democrats to enlist traditional enemies of health care reform to their side. No quid pro quo was involved, they insist, as do the lobbyists themselves.
The result has been a somewhat unlikely alliance between an administration that came into power criticizing George W. Bush for his closeness to Big Business and groups such as the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and the American Medical Association.
The previously undisclosed meeting April 15 at the offices of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee led to the creation of two groups — Americans for Stable Quality Care and a now-defunct predecessor group called Healthy Economy Now — that have spent tens of millions of dollars on TV advertising supporting health reform efforts.
In the most recent ad sponsored by Americans for Stable Quality Care, Obama speaks directly into the camera for 60 seconds, extolling the virtues of health care reform, while text at the bottom of the screen encourages viewers to visit the websites of the White House and the Finance Committee, which this week approved a 10-year, $829 billion health overhaul.
Of course, everyone is denying any collusion, but one can hardly expect them to admit to astroturfing, now can one?
There are a number of good questions that can be asked, including (but not limited to):
- Why were representatives of the Democratic Senator primarily responsible for pushing ObamaCare through the Senate and the White House at this meeting, if there was no collusion?
- Why was the meeting held at the office of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee?
If it looks like a duck, and walks like a duck, and swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck…