The Latest Health Care Ad: The Fast Sale

Comparing lawmakers to sleazy street-corner salesmen, the lobbying arm for big business complains that lawmakers are trying to rush a health care overhaul through before the public can digest it. But the details the ad claims Congress is trying to gloss over have been debated for months…

The chamber exaggerates the speed at which health care legislation is moving through Congress. The Senate Finance Committee staff released a white paper on May 14 that prominently included a government-run insurer as an option for lawmakers to consider, yet four months later the panels chairman has not introduced a bill as negotiators try to find bipartisan agreement. The House legislation, introduced on July 14, has been approved by three committees but hasn’t yet come to the floor.

The ad’s claim that Congress “doesn’t want you to know” the financial costs of health care legislation is specious. In fact, the “trillion dollar price tag” and $239 billion of deficit spending cited by the ad are estimates released July 17 by Congress’s own nonpartisan budget analysts. Those figures have been reported and dissected by the media for months.

The chamber says the ad’s reference to a “fast sale” refers to a possible Democratic strategy to push the health care bill through the Senate using budget rules that allow for a majority vote rather than the 60 votes needed to avoid a Republican filibuster. But the purpose of that maneuver would not be to hide the details of the bill—as the ad alleges—but to prevent Republicans from passing a Democratic bill.


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