Is ObamaCare Dead?

We have just witnessed an amazing development.

The grandiose health care bill the Senate passed with great fanfare on Christmas Eve has gone down to stunning defeat. Granted, the battle is not over. Intrade had the odds of passage as low as 20% on Saturday, but they are up to 37% today. (Somebody must know something!) Nancy Pelosi has a year to try to find the votes to pass it in the House. We hear talk of a “scaled down” version.  Certainly the Democrats will not want to go into the fall elections empty-handed.

Still, only a week ago most Washington insiders thought ObamaCare was a done deal.

What happened?

The White House spin is that they moved too slowly. The pundit spin is that people have been misled by negative messaging. Lanny Davis (in The Wall Street Journal) has the right response to all of this: “It’s the substance, stupid.” As I explained in The Wall Street Journal last summer, the average town hall protestor is better informed than the average member of Congress. As explained in my last Health Alert, the voters in Massachusetts probably understand the Senate bill better than Barack Obama understands it.

The most important things that happened occurred on Main Street, not inside the Beltway. And the National Center for Policy Analysis played a unique role — not duplicated by any other organization. For example, we have been sending out more than 3 million e-mails every week.

What a Difference a Day Makes


We combined four activities that have never been combined before: (1) traditional think tank work, (2) a one-of-its-kind blog, (3) talk radio and (4) new media communications.

At the think tank level, we work directly with some of the best health policy analysts in the country. We also report on everyone’s work (whether or not we fund it) through Daily Policy Digest and we organize and maintain links to these works at the NCPA Web site. (At 25,000 documents, I believe we are maintaining the largest public policy library in the world — only the Heartland Institute has anything comparable.)

For the past several years, the John Goodman Health Policy Blog has been one of the very few right-of-center health blogs on the Internet (we are getting about 9,000 visitors every day). It is here that research and ideas are vetted by health policy scholars from across the political spectrum.

Ideas that have been vetted at the blog become fodder for a weekly e-mail that potentially goes to 1.3 million people who signed our online petition opposing the nationalization of the health care system. The “open” rate on these mailings varies between 25% and 33%, which by industry standards is quite high. Many of these messages link to research reports or blog postings and other documents — including our Ten Step Plan for rational health reform. These mailings are often forwarded to other networks (Tea Party groups, etc.).

We make an effort to coordinate talk radio messages on health policy with our Internet mailings. (Ideally, we should all be saying the same thing.) During the petition signing phase of this campaign, we had 12 radio talk show hosts reaching a potential audience of 12 million listeners every week.

[Parenthetically, there has never been any need to “mislead” anyone. Only 10% — at most 20% — of the population shares the view of the world held by liberals. The left can never be successful on something like this in the clear light of day.]

Our partner in the talk radio/new media effort is Salem Radio Network. Right after Thanksgiving, Salem set up an Action Army portal on their Web site, allowing voters to e-mail their Congressional representatives. Right before Christmas, they added a toll-free way for voters to telephone their representatives.

So far, they have hosted almost 500,000 e-mail messages to Congress and more than 10,000 phone calls. This includes more than 25,000 e-mails from California voters to Barbara Boxer and another 25,000 to Dianne Feinstein. It includes 11,000 e-mails from Florida voters to each of their two senators and 8,000 to each of the Colorado senators.

This is an enormous amount of mail.

For the past 8 months, we have been engaged in Internet trench warfare — almost completely under the radar screen of the mainstream media. The White House has been sending out weekly health messages to as many as 19 million people. But unlike our messages, the president’s communications tend to be cheerleading messages — long on rhetoric, short on substance. And apparently less effective.

After we announced our goal of one million petition signers in opposition to nationalized health care, the White House announced they were going to get one million signatures in support of ObamaCare. Since we never heard another word about this effort, we assume they failed.

We have done our part on a shoestring budget. People on our side have collectively spent an estimated $100 million on old media (TV and newspaper) ads. We have spent a mere $1.5 million on talk radio and new media. We need both, but we probably skimped on the tools that provide the greatest marginal return.

For all of you who gave us encouragement and support, thank you. We continue to need both, and we are very grateful.

Comments (18)

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  1. Larry C. says:

    I think the White House may be engaged in misdirection. Let everybody think the beast is dead while they quietly twist enough arms in the House to get the Senate bill through and to the President’s desk.

  2. Brian W. says:

    Technically, the health care bill isn’t completely, utterly, totally dead until Congress adjourns sine die at the end of this year. Pelosi & Reid can bring it up at any time (repeatedly, if they want) until then.

  3. Joe S. says:

    I don’t think it’s dead.

  4. Juan O. says:

    It may not be dead, but it still stinks.

  5. Mark says:

    Yes, it really is incredible. Time to break out the Champagne? My only fear is that the Demos will now work with the Republicans and create another monster health care bill.

  6. Pat Y says:

    With the democrats, it’s never dead. Breaking out in celebration because of Massachusetts is premature–unfortunately. Still, finally, change I can believe in; now I have hope.

  7. Laurence says:

    “No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session.”

  8. eppie w. says:

    we will have to lance “the varment” to assure that it is indeed dead.

  9. Bob B says:

    I do not believe it is dead for one minute. Health care needs reform but not a political mandate that is not reality. We are all potential patients which make our care very personal. I don’t remember being asked what party I belonged to when I visit the doctor. Obama should read the book HELP Your health care Hanging in the Balance. maybe they could get it right

  10. Jerry K. says:

    As Michelle Obama said and now I say — especially to voters in Massachusetts — I have never been more proud of my country !

    But, don’t for a minute think it’s dead. Another variation will come out soon, no doubt with quite a bit of bipartisan support but much less federal government!

  11. Rich Karlgaard says:

    I don’t think the Intrade bettor pool is as big as we think. The Brown Coakley race flopped around, too.

  12. Don Levit says:

    I really hope that health care reform still lives, in that we do need to make changes.
    I find it peculiar that people seem to feel their health care is quite well, while that of others, in general, is in vast need of repair.
    How come what’s okay for the goose is not okay for the gander?
    Don Levit

  13. Al Campbell says:

    Health care reform is not dead yet, but I suspect the Massachusetts ‘thing’ and the storm of e-mails and letters and telephone calls has served notice that those people who want to pass something had better be careful just how they go about it and what they include/exclude.
    NCPA and John Goodman have done yeoman’s duty! Thanks for your efforts.

  14. Shirley Eliakis says:

    That ol’ Obama Care isn’t dead, it just smells that way! Soon we’ll be feeling the need to fumigate!

  15. Art says:

    Of all your ten points, not a single one takes aim at controlling costs in any way. Why Not?

    Regardless of what segment [physicians, hospitals, pharmaceuticals, insurers, etc.]one looks at, with waste, fraud and abuse consuming $200 to $700 billion a year in a $2.3 trillion market, which is 17% of GDP and produces no value; this 30% of costs is the only area where severe cuts can be made with no loss in quality of care.

    With 17% unemployment and under employment certainly there are vaste quantities of people who are educated enough to greatly stop this flow as the Clinton Administration did in 1995 to 1999 when they brought these factors down from 24% to 12%. Now they are back up to at least 30%.

    But then again you have the top officials at the Justice Department coming from practices who defend corporations, who show the largest recoveries in charges of “white collar crimes” mainly Medicare and Medicaid fraud. Do DoJ officials “forget” their former clients or do they simply decline to prosecute them as they would any who defraud?

    The record shows billions in fraud and merely millons in most recoveries which waste resources in going after “small fraud” cases.

    As long as politicians refuse to plug the holes healthcare costs will continue to rise until nobody can afford care. Perhaps then organizations like yours will focus on the “steak” and not the “sizzle”. The only good thing about “obama care” is that it would cause the enevitable to occur faster.

  16. Ronald Feldman MD says:

    Rather than throw around huge numbers for waste, fraud and abuse, lumping together every segment of the health care industry into a guess with a range from around x to 3.5 x why not define the supposed waste by groups (denominators) and we can have a discussion.

    Waste, fraud and abuse are in the eye of the beholder.

    Unless better focused, these numbers mean about the same as quotes from the IOM study guessing that up to 100, 000 people die annually from medical errors. That was a guess also, and only the high range is ever quoted in the press.

  17. Ken Heithoff says:

    John, agree that you can have reason to be proud of your continuing efforts. Job well done thus far. I have not heard the fat lady sing yet, and Pelosi is many things , but not fat. Do not trust the moment as there is that old saw about the calm before the storm. The jump in the percentages indicates what we all know, and that is dedicated ideologes hardly ever give up–particularly when the continue to be deluded despite the facts.

  18. lou baldassari says:

    The Obamacare bill is definitely is not dead …… there is now plan underway on Capitol Hill to circumvent the Congressional legislative process …… I understand that REID and Peloesi and Obama have all agreed to get the HOUSE to agree with the Senate version eventually (they have a year to do so) so the Obamacare bill can be eventually sent to the President for signature. Selected HOUSE members must first receive a signed REID agreement that 52 Democratic senators have signed up to that in essence would allow a future HOUSE bill to pass wherein it contents will contain the HOUSE “fixes” that the liberal Dems demanded / wanted all along. This bill will be introduced as a “reconciliation” trick which does not require Senator Brown, nor Senator Leb (CONN) votes…..its a way to get around the Senate’s 60 majority reqmt necessary in the Senate …… the “reconciliation” process only requires 51 Senate votes ….in other words, the REID / PELOESI legislative branch is now about to resort to legislative procedural work-around to get laws imposed upon the public….. this procedure WAS NOT INTENDED to be used for “major” legislation proposals ….SAD, BUT TRUE. I say VOTE ‘EM ALL OUT OF OFFICE in November 2010.