"As the debate intensifies in Congress, health care sector contributions to lawmakers on the committees overseeing" proposals for health care reform "are on the upswing," according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. In the first half of 2009, "health care interests donated $19.7 million to all federal lawmakers.
"For America's No. 1 taxpayer watchdog, as Citizens Against Government Waste calls itself, the jet engines seem easy prey. The federal government is already spending billions for Pratt & Whitney to develop engines for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Why spend billions more for General Electric to do the same?
Saturday, August 29 I had the good fortune to speak at a community rally for health care reform in a city park in downtown Portland, Oregon. It was a broad-based and diverse group with many signs and placards supporting the 'public option' being debated by Congress, and others calling for 'single payer' reform like that working effectively in other countries such as Canada. Here is what I said:
I would like to begin by apologizing to all of you for the role I played 15 years ago in cheating you out of a reformed health care system. Had it not been for greedy insurance companies and other special interests, and their army of lobbyists and spin-doctors like I used to be, we wouldn't be here today.
I'm ashamed that I let myself get caught up in deceitful and dishonest PR campaigns that worked so well, hundreds of thousands of our citizens have died, and millions of others have lost their homes and been forced into bankruptcy, so that a very few corporate executives and their Wall Street masters could become obscenely rich.
I'm beginning to think that the Kool-Aid being served at meetings of the Senate Finance Committee's soon-to-be infamous Gang of Six is coming from either fantasy land or the health insurance industry.
For those of you who might not be following the sorry machinations of health care reform in the Senate Finance Committee, the Gang of Six is a group of three Democrats and three Republicans hand-picked by Committee Chair Max Baucus, who is one of the three Democrats. The gang meets often, supposedly drafting a bipartisan bill. In reality, if such a bill emerges, it will be a gift to the insurance industry because the gang includes some of the industry's best friends on Capitol Hill.
Lobbyists will often argue that a major reason clients hire them is because of their deep personal connections with decision makers.
Steve Elmendorf, who founded Elmendorf Strategies in 2007, was an adviser to various Democratic Party campaigns and politicians for over 25 years. So his connections with Democratic Party movers and shakers seem beyond dispute.
After a year in which numerous British politicians have resigned or been publicly embarrassed by revelations over expense claims, the major UK political parties are promising new faces for the next election. However, Marie Woolf notes that "more than 50 prospective candidates chosen by the main parties are already working as lobbyists and public relations executives and are deeply enmeshed in the world of spin and politics.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce "has emerged as a multitasking, multimillion-dollar defender of the private sector against presidential initiatives," reports Associated Press. It's launched a $2 million campaign to oppose a "public option" in the healthcare reform plan, but -- to further the interests of the insurance industry -- wants "to work with the White House to mandate coverage for all." It's slamming the public insurance option in "newspaper and online ads ...