U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue apparently doesn’t like the umpire’s call.
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It has now been disclosed that the $86.2 million came, not from a cross-section of businesspeople in a diverse range of industries, but from the health-insurance lobby. This is, of course, no real surprise. By now, most of us, confronted with such a massive PR campaign, have become sophisticated enough to ask the detective’s venerable and crucial question, “Cui bono?”: “To whose good?”
Most of us, therefore, realized long before confirmation was available that since the group most likely to lose profits if the bill passed was the health-insurance industry, it was probable that the campaign was being mounted on its behalf.
A more sinister question remains, however: Why did the industry pay the Chamber to advertise for it when it could have done the same things on its own? This is where we must begin fully to apprehend the adroit subtlety of corporate public relations: To advertise directly would have exposed the industry as the real font of opposition to the bill and thereby invited critical scrutiny; by using the Chamber, it was possible (until now) to pretend that a cross-section of ordinary businesspeople spontaneously opposed it because they thought it was bad public policy.