Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Senator Lindsey Graham Has A Few Choice Words On The Health Care Bill

My senator, Lindsey Graham, has been hot under the collar about this Health "Care" bill, and the manner in which Ben Nelson was bought off by Harry Reid at OUR expense this past weekend. He likened it to "Chicago-style politics." I'd be inclined to agree. Here is Senator Graham explaining his assertion:

You tell 'em, Senator Graham!! I admit, even when I was a far lefty Democrat (now Independent), I couldn't help but be impressed by Senator Graham. I may not agree with him on everything, but I sure as hell agree with his interpretation above. I also agree with his call for a Constitutional review by the SC Attorney General regarding the Nebraska Buy-off:

This article found in my local newspaper provides a more comprehensive explanation of Graham's request:
Graham Wants Investigation

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday that he wants South Carolina's top prosecutor to investigate a deal that helped secure the 60th vote needed to pass a Democratic health care bill through the Senate.

Blasting Senate Democrats for what he called "backroom deals that amount to bribes," Graham found much to complain about in their health care bill. He was particularly irked that the senator who provided that final vote to head off a Republican filibuster, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, cut a deal in which the federal government pays his state's share of the cost for new Medicaid recipients.

Graham, a South Carolina Republican, called on state Attorney General Henry McMaster to review the constitutionality of the deal, and a McMaster spokesman said he looks forward to meeting with Graham to discuss it.

"There is one state in the union where new enrollees for Medicaid will be signed up and it won't cost anybody in that state money," Graham said on CNN's "State of the Union."

"A lot of people, Republicans and Democrats, are upset by this," Graham said. "Is it constitutional? I want the attorney general of South Carolina to look at this."

Nelson, who skirted the issue in a news conference Saturday, confirmed the deal in a CNN interview Sunday. But he said he didn't ask for special favors...

Click HERE if you wish to read the rest of the article.

Senator Graham is by no means alone in his disgust for the way this Health "Care" bill has come about, and its resemblance to "Chicago-style politics." This article by the Chicago Tribune (!) certainly supports that supposition: How Health Lobbyists Influenced Reform Bill; Former staffers of lawmakers from Harry Reid to Mitch McConnell push clients' agenda. Uh huh. What a big ol' surprise - that this bill being shoved down our throats was crafted by LOBBYISTS:
David Nexon had a big problem. An early version of national health care legislation contained a $40 billion tax aimed squarely at members of the medical device trade association he represents.

Nexon, a former adviser to the late Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, went to work. He marshaled 14 people like himself -- lobbyists who were once congressional aides, many of them from staffs of congressional leaders or committees that had a hand in crafting the health care overhaul.

When Senate Democrats unveiled their bill in mid-November, Nexon's handiwork was evident. The tax on device-makers was still large -- $20 billion -- but only half what it might have been without the efforts of Nexon and his fellow lobbyists.

Nexon's team is an illustration of how deeply the health care industry has embedded itself on Capitol Hill, using former aides of lawmakers and ex-lawmakers themselves.

An analysis of public documents by Northwestern University's Medill News Service in partnership with the Tribune Newspapers Washington Bureau and the Center for Responsive Politics found a revolving door between Capitol Hill staffers and lobbying jobs for companies with a stake in health care legislation.

At least 166 former aides from the nine congressional leadership offices and five committees involved in shaping health overhaul legislation -- along with at least 13 former lawmakers -- registered to represent at least 338 health care clients since the beginning of last year, according to the analysis.

Their health care clients spent $635 million on lobbying over the past two years, the study shows.

The total of insider lobbyists jumps to 278 when non-health-care firms that reported lobbying on health issues are added in, the analysis found.

My blood is boiling now; how about yours? Better take your high blood pressure medication, then:
Part of the lobbying pressure on current members of Congress and staffers comes from the powerful lure of post-congressional job possibilities.

"There's always a worry they may be thinking about their future employment opportunities when dealing with these issues, particularly with health care, because the stakes are so high and the breadth of the issues -- pharmacies, hospitals, doctors," said Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz.

Lobbyists' earnings can dwarf congressional salaries, which currently top out at $174,000 annually for lawmakers and $156,000 for aides, though committee staff members can earn slightly more.

In the health care showdown, insider lobbying influence has magnified the clout of corporate interests and helped steer the debate away from a public insurance option, despite many polls indicating majority support from Americans, according to Rutgers University political scientist Ross Baker.

"It imposes a kind of conservative bias on the discussion," said Baker, himself a former Senate staffer.

The lineup of insiders working for clients with health care interests includes at least 14 former aides to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and at least 13 former aides to Montana Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, the chairman of the Finance Committee and a key overseer of the health care overhaul.

This is just shocking on its face, isn't it? I gues I shouldn't be at all surprised that a bunch of these people worked for the same ones trying to ram this through before anyone has had a chance to read the damn thing in its entirety:
Nexon, who is now senior executive vice president of the Advanced Medical Technology Association, is among at least a half-dozen former Kennedy aides lobbying on health care.

Nexon acknowledged the value of congressional connections, "but in the end, it's not who I know, it's what I know."

It makes sense to hire former staffers for the health care showdown because they tend to be "more generalists, dealing with a broad range of issues," something that is in demand for legislation that sprawls across at least a half-dozen federal agencies and encompasses issues ranging from tax policy to hospital reimbursement rates, according to Nexon. But specific issues also get specialized help. Earlier this year, the Christian Science Church hired a former Kennedy staffer, Carolyn Osolinik, and three of her colleagues at the Mayer Brown law firm, all veterans of Capitol Hill. The firm has been paid at least $110,000 so far to push a provision requiring insurers to consider covering Christian Science prayer treatments.

Phil Davis, a senior official of the church, said the church wanted access to decision makers. "The noise level goes sky high. It's hard to get in to talk to people," he said.

The largest insider lobbying cadre belongs to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, which employs at least 26 former congressional members and staffers, according to Medill/CRP research.

Two other drug interests, biotech firm Amgen Inc. and the Biotechnology Industry Organization trade group, with at least 24 and 16 insiders respectively, ranked second and fourth among reported hiring over the past two years of lawmakers' former staffers and members of committees considered in the analysis.

"The numbers shouldn't surprise anyone," said Ken Johnson, a PhRMA senior vice president. "Former staffers have a unique understanding of how the legislative process works. And when you are trying to advocate on behalf of smart public policies, you want smart people on your team."

But Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause, a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog group, had a harsher assessment, blaming "a toxic cocktail of insiders and money" for short-circuiting a government-run plan that would have competed with private insurers.

"We'll get a bill. And the president will sign it. But it'll be less than the country deserves," said Edgar, a former six-term member of the House.

Health care lobbyists increase their effectiveness by strategically targeting their campaign contributions or the donations of the interests they represent, Edgar said.

But, but, but - I thought lobbyists were going to have no part in an Obama Administration!! Ahahahahaha - and if anyone actually bought THAT line of crapola from Obama, I have some waterfront property in Wyoming to sell you because there is more:
Health industry contributions to congressional candidates have more than doubled so far this decade, rising to $127 million in the 2008 election cycle from $56 million in the 2000 election, with disproportionate sums going to the party in power and to members of committees that oversee health care, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

But lobbyist and former Kennedy staffer Andrew Rosenberg said political conditions, not big money or the predispositions of lobbyists sidelined a public option.

"You could see this coming from a long way off. The Democratic Party is now the big tent party. They have to get to 60 votes. That is the reality," Rosenberg said. "It was going to have to be something that appeals to moderates" opposed to expanding government-run health insurance. (Tribune Newspapers' Tom Hamburger and Joe Markman contributed to this report.)

So now you know - Senator Lindsey Graham has it exactly right - this policy was not crafted with US in mind. It was crafted by and for the health care insurers and those who are connected to them. They wrote this thing that the Democrats are hell-bent on getting through this year. They, and the Democrats who are getting money from them, are the ones who will most definitely benefit most. Because from everything I have heard and read, WE will be the ones who lose the most while paying the most.

And if all of these shenanigans to buy votes aren't unConstitutional, they are most definitely unethical. Seems like the only change that has come to Washington is bolder cheating. Yep, sounds like "Chicago-style politics" to me!


Mary Ellen said...

What did Obama say while campaigning.."there will be no lobbyist in "my" White House?

Graham hit it squarely on the head of the nail...this bill is corrupt to the core because it was written by the most corrupt group of thugs we've ever seen in this White House. This IS Chicago style politics.

I noticed while reading the whining coming from the most ardent Obot blogs that this is all "Rahm Emmanuel's fault!" "He's giving Obama bad advice!" Well, guess what...Rahm has been "advising" Obama since he came to Chicago. Obama is taking this advice because he agrees with it.

This Obamacare bill is the blood on Obama's hands and as far as I'm concerned, on the hands of every Obama supporter who voted for him in the first place. He is doing EXACTLY what he did while in Chicago and if they weren't such lazy and stupid assholes, they would have looked at his record carefully before they started screaming "RACIST!" every time one of us tried to tell them who the real Obama is.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

You said it, Mary Ellen - absolutely spot on.

And to blame Rahm now is just ludicrous - we told them and told them that Obama was a Chicago-style politician from the get-go, but they refused to believe it. To treat him like he is some poor little victim of Rahm's machinations is ridiculous.

There is a great post at NQ right now, http://www.noquarterusa.net/blog/2009/12/22/10-reasons-to-kill-the-senate-bill/#more-38949, that clearly spells out what we can expect from this bill if it goes through. And get this, they are trying to attach that it would take a SUPER majority to ever change it.

Democracy? Who needs a stinkin' democracy?? Apparently not the Democrats.

Honestly, Mary Ellen, have they ALWAYS been like this, or is this new? Please say it's new...

Mary Ellen said...

You know, I'm beginning to think they were always like this behind the scenes, but now they are becoming more blatant about it. It's as if they realized they can do anything they want once they are elected because they can roll over their constituents whenever they please. There used to be a time when voters used their vote to kick out those who were corrupt. Now they just keep voting them back in because they vote for "party" instead of country.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

No doubt, you are right, ME. That just makes me sad. I used to take such pride in being a Democrat. Now, I look at them, how they act with such cavalier disdain, and can't believe this is the party to which I gave my allegiance, and my vote, for so long.

Yes, true abt the party votes, and wanting to keep "their" people in positions of power because it's good for the state. Great.

I have a bit of a follow-up to this tomorrow...