U.S. Chamber President: Repeal Of Health Reform Is Just To ‘Get Everybody’s Attention’

This morning, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue, who just yesterday announced the organization’s support for the GOP’s health care repeal bill, hinted that his group is more interested in tweaking the measure than eliminating it outright. Asked why he was endorsing a measure that had no chance of becoming law, Donohue reminded MSNBC host Chuck Todd that the Chamber spent “a fortune and a great deal of our intellectual commitment to make that bill not happen” and said that repeal was a way to “get everybody’s attention”:

DONOHUE: We’re going to support them on some of the things they’re gonna have to do to work out the health care deal, because I think there is a way to get there. We’re going to support a vote against it…and our release, will say ‘and here are the five things we then have to get together and fix.’

TODD: Well, they seem to be on the same page with you on this 1099 issue.

DONOHUE: Exactly, they’ve already issued 220 exemptions because they’ve figured out it doesn’t work. We’re going to work with these guys on a lot of the issues that are going to have to be dealt with.

Watch it:

But, Chamber Vice President and Chief Operating Officer David Chavern suggested yesterday on CSPAN’s Washington Journal, “We really need to focus on the more important thing, which is how can we fix what is passed and what may we be able to add to it to improve it.”

Even if Donohue was not able to ultimately kill the measure, the “fortune” the Chamber spent on T.V. ads and lobbying helped move public opinion to the right and is at least partly responsible for the unpopularity of the measure. As Chavern put it, “it’s no secret that ultimately we lost….but at the end of the day, I think we did talk to the public a lot about what was wrong with that bill. I think there is much broader understanding about what’s wrong. So would we do it again? Yes.” Indeed, it’s because of the Chamber’s success in molding opposition to the measure that Democrats may be more willing to “fix” things like the 1099 provision (which does seem like a burdensome requirement) and soften some of the employer responsibility penalties.