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October 16, 2009

Health reform: More details emerge on White House-DSCC-industry alliance

Ben Smith has an interesting story in Politico about the alliance between the White House, high-ranking senate Dems, and health care industry lobbyists; a pact that launched a thousand TV spots:

At a meeting last April with corporate lobbyists, aides to President Barack Obama and Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) helped set in motion a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign, primarily financed by industry groups, that has played a key role in bolstering public support for health care reform.

The role Baucus’s chief of staff, Jon Selib, and deputy White House chief of staff Jim Messina played in launching the groups was part of a successful effort by Democrats to enlist traditional enemies of health care reform to their side. No quid pro quo was involved, they insist, as do the lobbyists themselves.

Two groups were created in that meeting: Americans for Quality Stable Health Care and Healthy Economy Now. These groups have since run millions of dollars worth of ads advancing the president's health care reform agenda. The pharmaceutical trade group PhRMA is the largest single contributor to the $24 million project, according to Smith.

A lot of people wondered why the White House gave the Senate Finance Committee the lead role in crafting health care reform legislation. The Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) would have been a more obvious choice.

I doubt it's a coincidence that Finance Chair Max Baucus's chief of staff, Jon Selib, played a key role in creating the coalition that steered millions of industry dollars into the push for reform. The White House swears there was no quid pro quo. But it goes without saying that if industry is paying to pass reform, industry expects a say in what kind of reform we get. Nobody every has to say "I'll pay for your ads if you kill the pubic option" or anything blunt like that. 


What the pharmaceutical lobbyists wanted was that Medicare not be able to negotiate rates for pharmaceuticals.

They got what they wanted from the Senate Finance Committee, thanks to slimeballs like Tom Carper (D-DE).

This health care "reform" has been nothing short of a farce and charade. While Obama proclaims that all sides had a chance to present their positions, in reality, some positions were peremptorily discarded. In particular, solutions abroad are discarded by Obama in favor of an "unique American way".

The thing that is unique about the American "way" is that we pay 50% more for health care per capita than other industrial countries. The Baucus/Obama/Wellpoint plan has as its primary focus, to preserve corporate profits.

When 86% of large businesses self insure, one has to wonder why, for the exact same business reasons that business self insure, that we don't also do so, given a mandate to insure all citizens.

We all know the reason questions like these are "off the table", because "lobbying" (bribery renamed) has corrupted the political process.

I think the best way of dealing with health care reform is to silence the lobbyists who represent the minority and try to take in consideration the struggles of the middle class and poor Americans who can not afford to see a doctor or pay their medical bills. However, when the Wall Street needs to be bailed out, somehow no one has a problem handing them the taxpayer money. Is this the government of the people, by the people and for the people? I don’t think the founders had in mind a government of lobbyists and other special interests. Sad, we live in 21st century America and somehow we know there are many Americans going hungry to bed or can not afford to take care of their health. This is not Socialist or Communist idea, other Capitalist democracies have no problem helping the nation with health care, however we’ve come to think any help to the people is bad, is evil and is part of left-wing Communist agenda. This is just a common sense, when a person can’t afford a surgery, you want to help the person.

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