Obamacare

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em (and Then Say You Beat 'Em)

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Complaints about corporate money and influence in politics are a constant in American political discourse, with complainers typically grousing that industry cash and power stifle proper regulation. But too often, despite claims that regulation is some sort of victory against corporate power, federal meddling just makes the government an industry partner (for perhaps the most notorious example, see the tobacco industry's win-win deal with the government). And thus, as in this Politico story about political battles being waged by drug manufacturers, political actors necessarily become subject to corporate blowback and power plays whenever there's some indication the politicians might not be playing along:

A Senate-side deal last month with drug manufacturers is coming back to bite House Democrats looking for savings to pay for their own health care reform bill this summer. 

Having struck a bargain with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the industry is aggressively targeting individual House Democrats, warning of repercussions in the 2010 elections if they go along with a tougher set of savings advocated by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.).

…PhRMA, the powerful Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association lobby, is openly playing one chairman against the other.

Political considerations make it difficult to overhaul the health-care industry without input from the affected corporate players. So even though PhRMA's offer to reduce the cost of drugs for seniors was called "historic," it's little more than political wheeling and dealing. And the result is that drug industry operations have been pushed further into the realm of politics. The industry's success or failure now hinges to an even greater degree on decisions made by politicians; consequently, that's where drug makers are going to focus their attention. The whole process just leads to greater corporate-political entanglement, no matter what victories the regulators claim. Want to reduce corporate influence over government? Try cutting back on government influence over corporations.

Update: The Post reports that the health-care industry has hired hundreds of former government employees as lobbyists. The piece warns of a "record-breaking influence campaign by the health-care industry." But isn't that exactly what's to be expected in the midst of an equally massive attempt to revamp the entire national health-care system? This shouldn't surprise anyone: Any move toward greater government involvement in health-care is going to lead toward increased health-care lobbying of government.

NEXT: Who Should Traditionalists Approve of More: Hypocrites or Libertines?

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  1. “When buying and selling is controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.”

    OK I really have to work. Goodbye Reason, again!

  2. Any move toward greater government involvement in health-care is going to lead toward increased health-care lobbying of government.

    Of course. And, really, isn’t that better than the alternative (the government exerting its power without any feedback from those subject to its power)?

  3. Of course. And, really, isn’t that better than the alternative (the government exerting its power without any feedback from those subject to its power)?

    Only if constituents and the people who will be using the health care also get an equal say and equal access as the health care industry.

    Otherwise, no it isn’t “better” when just the health-care industry gets to participate in the discussion and the shaping of health care reform.

  4. The Post reports that the health-care industry has hired hundreds of former government employees as lobbyists. The piece warns of a “record-breaking influence campaign by the health-care industry.” But isn’t that exactly what’s to be expected in the midst of an equally massive attempt to revamp the entire national health-care system? This shouldn’t surprise anyone: Any move toward greater government involvement in health-care is going to lead toward increased health-care lobbying of government.

    Duh!
    Last I checked “the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances” was still operational.

  5. When are those bastards going to redress MY grievances?

    They could all commit ritual suicide on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial; that would be a step in the right direction.

  6. When are those bastards going to redress MY grievances?

    You have the right to petition. The government, like God, has the option of saying Fuck you P Brooks.

    Hit and Run could sure use those handy buttons for italics, bold, etc.

    That’s a petition. I doubt those handy buttons for the HTML illiterates will be forthcoming soon.

  7. Only if constituents and the people who will be using the health care also get an equal say and equal access as the health care industry.

    Well, then, you are in a bind, ChicagoTom. You can either:

    (1) Abrogate the free speech and free association rights of people who work for the health care providers directly affected by this hideous abomination of a proposal, by limiting their right to come together and petition Congress and the President.

    (2) Set up some kind of Access Tard to monitor and meter out access so everyone gets “fair” access.

    (3) Do without hugely intrusive government, so that nobody cares about getting access or who might have more than them.

    Frankly, I don’t see any alternatives, and all three of those suck.

  8. Whoa, distracted there.

    Option three definitely doesn’t suck, in my book, but I bet CT won’t much like it.

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