Yesterday a reader emailed to ask whether the business community was supporting or opposing healthcare reform. Well, as the Washington Post notes, the Chamber of Commerce recently came out against it while Wal-Mart has come out in favor:
Less noted has been the diversity of opinion among small and medium-size businesses. Many agree with the Chamber that a public insurance option would undermine the private insurance market and that requiring companies to provide coverage would impair job growth. Others say the current system is so broken that they are assessing whether to support the reform plans.
The wait-and-see approach that many businesses are taking — alternately skeptical and hopeful — is a further sign that the alliances that previously scuttled health-care reform may be scrambled this time around, not just in the health-care industry but also in the business world at large. President Obama and congressional Democrats face formidable obstacles to their reform efforts, but one factor in their favor is businesspeople who may not be as inclined as they were in the past to bring grass-roots pressure against reform.
This is probably about as good as we could have hoped for. When the bullets finally start flying, it was always unlikely that either big or small businesses would be enthusiastically in favor of healthcare reform. It's just not in their DNA, and the web of allies and lobbyists they're part of naturally works to keep them skeptical. Still, the mere fact that they're divided, not rabidly opposed, demonstrates just how far things have come since 1994. Whether that's enough to help deliver a few Republican and Blue Dog votes is hard to say, but at least it probably won't cost us any.