The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is soliciting funds to pay an economist $50,000 to study health care reform legislation and issue (what the lobby presumes) will be a negative review, providing ammunition to shoot down health care reform in the Senate, according to The Washington Post.
The Newspaper obtained an e-mail from James P. Gelfand, the senior manager of health policy at the Chamber of Commerce detailing how the plan would work:
"The economist will then circulate a sign-on letter to hundreds of other economists saying that the bill will kill jobs and hurt the economy. We will then be able to use this open letter to produce advertisements, and as a powerful lobbying and grass-roots document.
The lobby's senior vice president seems to contradict Gelfand's email as he explains it, saying that the group never intended to say how the economist's study would turn out.
The Post report is the latest to document the business lobby's efforts to stop health care reform in the Senate and the House. On Oct. 27, the Chamber Of Commerce announced that it would air TV ads in seven states and on national cable television attacking the legislation and its government-run insurance option. The Chamber of Commerce aired its commercials in Maine, Louisiana and Arkansas. The House health care bill passed on Nov. 7 with a vote of 220-215 and the sole GOP vote for the bill came from Louisiana Republican Rep. Joseph Cao.
According to The National Journal's Under The Influence Blog, the Chamber of Commerce has spent $17.5 million in just three months (July-September), lobbying to shape health policy. The Chamber of Commerce spent more money on health care lobbying than any other group during the third business quarter.