President Obama says its obvious, anybody who would dare fight his Obamacare measures are on the leash of the special interests. Funny how he never mentions the special interests that he is beholden to, like the unions who were exempted from “the Cadillac tax.” Or the real reason there is no tort reform, the President’s ties to the Legal industry.
At Open Secrets you can pull up campaign contributions by candidate and industry. The are calculated from PAC contributions and contributions from individuals giving more than $200, as reported to the FEC. Individual contributions are generally categorized based on the donor’s occupation/employer.
A look at the Federal Election Commission data from the 2008 campaign (released 7/13/09), shows that President Obama received the most cash from Lawyers/Law Firms (more than $43 million) almost 3x more than the number two candidate Hillary Clinton ($15 million), John McCain was number three he received less than a 4th of the Obama money ($9.9 million)
The legal profession’s commitment to the Democratic Party goes way beyond President Obama, as you can see below Lawyers/Law Firms donated almost $1.1 billion dollars to candidates/issues since 1990, almost 3/4 of it has been to Democratic candidates/issues
With all of that cash, its no wonder that they can push the party around. The legal profession is now warning President Obama that he better not give in to the Republicans desire for tort reform.
Trial lawyers defeated President George W. Bush’s push for medical liability reform and successfully lobbied to water down tort reform provisions in healthcare reform bills this Congress. But the battle is far from over.
And in an odd twist, a longtime ally of the trial lawyers could be the one to resurrect the idea — President Barack Obama.
“I would hope this would be an area we just don’t go,” said Linda Lipsen, vice president for public affairs at the American Association for Justice, the trade group for trial attorneys.
Lipsen said. “The last thing Congress should be doing is eliminating people’s rights when the real issue is safety in hospitals.
Actually the real issue is doctors ordering unnecessary tests and procedures just to cover their assets, from the trial lawyers. Two weeks ago, the House Oversight Committee released a report examining the failure to address the costs of defensive medicine in health care legislation and highlights how defensive medicine contributes to the “high cost of health care” and drives up insurance premiums (full report below). The report concludes that the government could save approximately $250 Billion Dollars/year if tort reform was enacted. And that’s just government savings, it doesn’t count the cost savings racked up by the general public.
Obama’s hints that he is willing to make a deal with Republicans on medical malpractice reform has got physicians and trial lawyers scratching their heads.
As recently as Tuesday, Obama floated the possibility of offering an olive branch to Republicans on malpractice reform as a gesture of bipartisanship. “I’ve said from the beginning of this debate I’d be willing to work on that,” Obama remarked during a press briefing.
../Although Obama has repeatedly cited medical malpractice reform as a possible area of compromise with the GOP, he has not explained where he sees the middle ground and, indeed, has rejected Republicans’ top priority in this area: the hard-dollar caps on lawsuit awards in malpractice cases long sought by the physician and business lobbies.
…But officials from pro- and anti-malpractice reform camps agree that, beyond the modest measures already in the healthcare reform bills that passed Congress and some demonstration projects under way at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Obama has not give a clear indication of what sort of offer he is willing to make.
Asked whether they were aware of any new malpractice reform proposals from the Obama administration, these officials professed they were aware of none.
So what has happened to the Presidents promise to direct “my Secretary of Health and Human Services to move forward on this initiative today?”
The ranking member of the House Oversight Committee Congressman Issa is trying to figure that out:
“The first question I have for President Obama is if he still stands by his call for tort reform or was he just lying to Congress when he directed Sec. Sebelius to pursue an initiative addressing the costs of defensive medicine. When HHS is telling me that malpractice reform is not a “priority of this Administration,” I have to question the sincerity of the President’s commitment to working with Congressional Republicans on a bipartisan basis. A clarification from the Administration would tell us if he is sincere in his effort for bipartisan discussions or if this is just another exercise in futility aimed to make the American people think the White House is serious about bipartisanship.”
….Based on Obama’s oft-stated views on federal policy governing malpractice lawsuits, the trial lawyers likely have little to worry about. “I don’t think he’ll shock the world and come out and embrace caps,” Rickard said.
Despite campaigning against taxation of employer-sponsored health insurance, Obama put himself at odds with unions by endorsing a Senate-passed excise tax on high-cost insurance plans that organized labor and most House Democrats passed. The White House also struck a controversial deal to win the support of the pharmaceutical industry for healthcare reform, frustrating liberals who think Obama went too light on their long-time nemesis.
But once the unions complained he had them exempted from the bill.
….The House and Senate bills each contain provisions aiming to improve patient safety and offering grants to states that develop alternate ways to resolve disputes over medical errors. Proponents of broader malpractice reforms dismiss these proposals as inadequate while trial lawyers have rejected another possible compromise, the creation of special “health courts” that would hear cases and medical errors and malpractice.
Moving toward the middle on medical malpractice reform is no guarantee of winning GOP support, however. Any concession that Republicans would view as meaningful would prompt an outcry from Democratic lawmakers and the trial bar, a close ally of the party.
“I don’t see that as a credible place to go if the object is to pass the bill,” said Lipsen, noting that legislation to enact malpractice award caps could even not advance through the Republican-controlled Senate several times in the last decade.
The bottom line is the same way the President and his party capitulated to the special interests, with the Cadillac plan, when push comes to shove, they will capitulate to the special interests when it comes to tort reform.