Nov 17, 3:07 AM EST
Business foes of health care revamp ramp up effort
By ALAN FRAM
WASHINGTON (AP) — Business foes of health care overhaul legislation are outspending supporters at a rate of 2-to-1 for TV ads as they grow increasingly nervous over a final bill.
Led by the giant U.S. Chamber of Commerce, opponents of the Democratic health care drive have spent $24 million on TV commercials over the past month to $12 million spent by labor unions and other backers. That’s an abrupt reversal from the vast spending advantage supporters enjoyed most of this year, according to Evan Tracey, president of Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks political ads.
More than half the opposition spending has been by the chamber. With the House narrowly approving its health overhaul on Nov. 7 and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., drafting his measure behind closed doors, the outpouring of cash underscores how crunch time has arrived for business and other groups trying to shape or scuttle the legislation.
“There’s no input from any of us, no input from Republicans” as Reid puts the bill together, said R. Bruce Josten, the chamber’s top lobbyist. “So what option do we have than to take our message and story to the American people?”
At the same time, the chamber has circulated an e-mail to other business groups asking them to help fund a $50,000 study by a “respected economist” of the proposed health care overhaul. The study would be used for a letter, ads and other lobbying efforts to argue that the bill “will kill jobs and hurt the economy,” according to the e-mail.