A lobbyist working with the Chamber of Commerce says that if a planned study on the economic impact of health-care reform doesn’t support the business community’s agenda, he’d recommend burying it.
“If you’re doing something like this you want it to be back up the position you’ve taken,” Brian Worth of the International Electrical Contractors (IEC) told TPMmuckraker. If the report showed that reform wouldn’t cause significant job losses, said Worth, “I would say sit on it, and don’t release it.”
Worth, IEC’s vice president for government and public affairs, was referring to an effort led by the Chamber of Commerce to fund a report by an economist that would purport to show that health-care reform would damage the economy and cost jobs, and which could then be used as a PR tool in the fight against reform. The plan was criticized this week after the Washington Post obtained an email from James Gelfand, a health-care policy specialist at the Chamber, which seemed to make clear that the business lobby was pre-judging the result of the report, while intending to present it as an independent study.
A Chamber exec gave a different response from Worth’s when asked by the Post whether the study would likely be released no matter what its conclusions, saying that a more positive finding would help to “educate” the Chamber and its allies. The president of another business group that has put up money for the effort gave a similar answer to TPMmuckraker yesterday.
Worth told TPMmuckraker that Gelfand had contacted him to solicit funding for the planned study, and that IEC had pledged $5000. According to Gelfand’s email, several other business groups pledged the same amount.
Worth also suggested the Chamber may be getting qualms about the plan now that it’s been exposed — since the report’s impact would presumably be diminished if it’s seen from the start as a PR tool rather than a legitimate piece of scholarship. “I would definitely say they’re probably having second thoughts about it,” Worth said, adding that he hadn’t communicated with the Chamber about it since Gelfand’s initial overture.
Neither Gelfand nor a spokesman for the Chamber immediately responded to requests for comment form TPMmuckraker.