It is unlikely that Howard Dean intended to expose one of his party’s greatest weaknesses in August 2009 when he explained why Obamacare could not include a tort reform provision that experts said could save up to $400 billion in health care costs.
Speaking at a northern Virginia town hall meeting, the former Democratic presidential candidate and Democratic National Committee chairman stunned many in the nation’s capital with these unexpected words:
“Here’s why tort reform is not in the bill. When you go to pass a really enormous bill like that, the more stuff you put into it, the more enemies you make.
“And the reason the tort reform is not in the bill is because the people who wrote it did not want to take on the trial lawyers in addition to everyone else they were taking on, and that is the plain and simple truth.”
Dean’s admission was especially shocking because study after study has shown for years that doctors are forced to practice defensive medicine — ordering unneeded tests and procedures in case they were sued by trial lawyers looking for deep pockets and big paydays that come with multimillion-dollar settlements.
Tort reforms that put limits on such unrestrained class action medical lawsuits by trial lawyers would save $40 billion annually, and up to $400 billion over a decade.
But President Barack Obama and his Democratic congressional allies in the 111th Congress dared not alienate the special interests of class-action trial attorneys. The lawyers and three other special interests — labor union leaders, environmentalists and insiders with billions of dollars in personal wealth and foundation grants — essentially dictate what Democrats can and cannot support on many key public policy issues.
Call them the Four Horsemen of the coming Democratic apocalypse.
These four groups provide most of the campaign funding and workers, political and policy expertise, legal and regulatory muscle, and strategic communications for the Democratic Party. Consequently, most Democrats are prisoners of a narrow agenda of constantly growing government budgets, regulation and taxing.
This development comes at a time when public opinion surveys show conservatives, who favor less government, outnumber liberals by about 2-1.
In other words, the special interests are taking the Democrats in the opposite direction favored by most Americans.
Mark Tapscott is the editorial page editor of The Washington Examiner.