Interest Groups Crowd Airwaves, Pursue Lawmakers
"The increasingly heated fight over health-care legislation is saturating the summer airwaves, with groups on all sides of the debate pouring tens of millions of dollars into advertising campaigns designed to push the cause of reform forward, slow it down or stop it in its tracks," the Washington Post reports. So far, drug makers, labor groups, Democrats and Republicans among others have spent $52 million to finance the ad campaigns, a heady start that could lead to a "record-breaking legislative battle."
"Much of the spending has been focused on national cable news and the local Washington market, the best way to reach policymakers and opinion leaders in the capital. But as members of Congress leave for August recess, advertising money will follow them, as the target audience for health-care messages shifts from inside to outside the Beltway," the Post reports (Pershing, 8/5).
The many interest groups that could gain or lose from have heated up lobbying campaigns both on and off the air, as the August recess is seen as the time to deliver messages. The Wall Street Journal reports on a few samples: "If you're looking for savings, don't come at us," said Tim Trysla, a senior medical device industry representative; "Attacking our community will not help get anyone covered," said Karen Ignagni, chief executive of lobbying group America's Health Insurance Plans. Insurers have recently come under fire from Democrats.
"What has fueled the lobbying surge is that President Barack Obama has left the details of the health overhaul to Congress. That means interest groups have plenty of decision-makers to badger. It also makes any legislation vulnerable to death by a thousand cuts," the Journal reports. For instance, lobbyists have successfully deterred Senators from a plan to tax health benefits, and a small hospital succeeded delaying action in the House (Adamy and Williamson, 8/5).