Yesterday I defended liberal Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein from conservative Post blogger Jen Rubin. Today I have to pick a pretty big nit in a Klein blog post.
Klein writes about the stimulus and the health-care bill: "As it happened, [Democrats] largely succeeded on winning industry neutrality both times...."
"Industry neutrality" is not the way I would put it.
The top drug lobby, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which spent more on lobbying in 2009 than any single-industry group endorsed the health-care bill and applauded its passage. Then, as part of a deal cut with Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, PhRMA agreed to spend many millions supporting the bill with ads -- and then also supporting the Senators who vote for it. PhRMA-funded ads for Harry Reid specifically touted his vote for health-care.
That's not "industry neutrality." That's industry support. The American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association both endorsed the bill, too.
On the stimulus, "neutrality" is even more clearly the wrong word. The Chamber of Commerce explicitly, repeatedly, and enthusiastically endorsed Obama's stimulus bill. It even scored the bill on its annual scorecard.
Check this letter from the Chamber regarding the stimulus (which I got from Ezra Klein's old blog):
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce urges you to support cloture on the Collins-Nelson amendment to H.R. 1, the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.” The Chamber also renews its call that the Senate approve H.R. 1 without delay so that the House and Senate can expeditiously complete work on a conference report that provides timely, targeted, and temporary economic stimulus.
Again, that's not neutrality. Klein follows this stuff closely, so I'm sure he was trying to say something about industry's ambivalence on these matters -- drugmakers had hangups on ObamaCare, the insurers didn't like it in the end -- but "neutrality" is not the right word.