Pro-reform liberals begin to admit this wasn't a battle against the special interests 

In December, when the Senate passed this health-care bill, President Obama praised the chamber for "standing up to the special interests -- who've prevented reform for decades, and who are furiously lobbying against it now." The President was not speaking truthfully at the time, but most liberals parroted the line or at least provided some covering fire.

But today, liberal Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein, who has covered this battle as exhaustively as anyone and supported its passage as continuously as anyone, admits this is bill sits fine -- or better -- with all the special interests, and that the attacks on Republicans, made by President Obama and others, as shills for industry were dishonest or at least mistaken:

This year, the Obama administration succeeded at neutralizing every single industry. Pharma supports the bill. Insurers are incoherent on it, but there's not a ferocious and united campaign to kill the proposal. The American Medical Association has endorsed the Senate bill. The hospitals have endorsed the bill. Labor has endorsed the bill. The business community is split, with larger employers holding their fire.

You can take that as a critique of the bill's deals and concessions. But it represents a remarkable level of industry consensus. And it's been almost meaningless when it's come to Republican support. For all that liberals think the GOP is owned by insurers and pharmaceutical companies, this battle has been proof positive that they are owned by their base and they represent industry only when convenient.

I'm glad Klein's come around to my way of thinking, but he continues to make this odd argument:

we really judge the extremism of legislation based on the positioning of Republicans and Democrats. If I'd told you that the Obama administration was going to release a health-care bill that would attract every Senate Democrat -- from Bernie Sanders and Barbara Boxer to Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman -- and either endorsements or neutrality from the American Medical Association, the hospital industry, the pharmaceutical industry, AARP, labor, and much of the insurance industry (though they're press releases have become more oppositional recently), you'd have thought that was a pretty moderate, consensus-oriented bill. Which it is! But most Americans don't think that because the Republicans decided to treat it as the second coming of fascism.

So, most of the American people, some Democratic congressmen, all Republican congressmen, and all Republican Senators are against the bill. But the special interests and the majority party are for it. And this speaks ill of the Republicans?

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Michael Daboll

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