Monday, January 9, 2017
LOBBYISTS: MAKING MILLIONS BUYING CONGRESS
THERE HAVE BEEN HUNDREDS OF HEADLINES LIKE THE ONES BELOW OVER THE PAST DECADE OR SO, BUT SEEMS TO ME THAT FEW ARE EITHER AWARE THAT THIS HAS HAPPENED...OR CARE.
How Corporate Lobbyists Conquered American Democracy - The Atlantic
Behind the closed doors of Washington lobbyists - CBS News
I HAVE LONG AWAITED A BOOK TITLED "HOW TO BRIBE ANY CONGRESSMAN"...WHICH COULD BE WRITTEN TODAY BY OVER 10,000 "REGISTERED" CONGRESSIONAL LOBBYISTS...
THERE ARE MORE LOBBYISTS SWARMING CAPITOL HILL THAN THERE ARE PEOPLE IN MANY SMALL TOWNS IN AMERICA!
LET THAT SINK IN...
WHILE JACK ABRAMOFF MIGHT BE WELL ABLE TO SINGLE-HANDEDLY PEN SUCH A BOOK (HE TOLD CBS THAT HE HAD THOUGHT ABOUT IT) AND MAY BE THE MOST NOTORIOUS BRIBER IN RECENT HISTORY, HE IS BY NO MEANS THE ONLY ONE...OR THE WORST.
GETTING A "FIX" IN TO A CONGRESSMAN IS BOTH EASY AND VERY LUCRATIVE.
Jack Abramoff made about $5 million to $20 million per year during his lobbying heydays bribing and buying many.
By plying Congressmen and their staffers with gifts, from meals to use of private jets, Abramoff was able to have significant influence over about 100 congressional offices—a failure, according to his own standards, as there were still 355 offices that he did not control.
[ACTUALLY, AS WE WILL SEE, ABRAMOFF SPREAD THE WEALTH TO OVER 250 IN CONGRESS.]
Then, in 2005, it all fell apart...for Abramoff, but not for those who sold-out to Abramoff in Congress.
After a very public scandal, he pled guilty to "corrupting public officials", tax evasion and fraud.
He served three-and-a-half years in a medium security prison in Maryland.
The Congressmen he bought?
The 250 or so who took Abramoff's "gifts" don't seem to feel guilty at all about the fact that what they did undermined the very fabric of the United States.
An estimated two-thirds of Ambramoff's direct contributions went to Republican congressmen, and one-third to Democratic congressional leaders.
Of the approximately $85 million in American Indian tribal money entrusted to Abramoff, his employers, or his related organizations, over $4.4 million since 1999 were directed to at least 250 members of Congress, primarily Republicans in leadership positions or on relevant committees, and Democrats with standing connections to Native American interests, such as Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).
These contributions have since become tainted by their association with Abramoff's criminal behavior.
BUT ALMOST ALL OF THOSE WHO TOOK THE MONEY AND GIFTS GOT RE-ELECTED AND GOT NO PRISON TIME.
ONLY A COUPLE OF THE "TAKERS" WERE ACTUALLY "TAINTED" BY THE WHOLE THING.
SOME WHO WERE CAUGHT IN THIS SIMPLY RETURNED THE MONEY OR GIFTS WHILE SOME MADE A BIG SHOW OF DONATING THE AMOUNTS TO CHARITIES.
TRA-LA-LA-LA, LIFE GOES ON.
WHO WERE SOME OF THE BIGGEST 'WINNERS' WHO NEVER SAW A COURTROOM LIKE THEIR BENEFACTOR DID?
Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) $67,000, Representative John Doolittle (R-CA) raked in over $50,000 in known "donations", Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) got the presumed biggest bang, $150,000.
AND SINCE THE ABRAMOFF SCANDAL, HAS ANYTHING CHANGED, HAS THE POWER OF LOBBYISTS BEEN CURTAILED?
NO, ACCORDING TO LOBBYISTS THEMSELVES, AND ACCORDING TO OLD JACK ABRAMOFF WHO IS STILL PISSED-OFF THAT HE DID TIME AND THOSE HE HANDED THE BRIBES TO DID NONE.
The MOST Effective Lobbying Does Not Involve Money…
The vast amounts of money spent on lobbying, however, is not the most effective lobbying strategy. The ultimate "weapon" doesn't involve gifts or money exchanging hands at the time.
No, according to Abramoff, the BEST way to get a Congressman or Senator to do his bidding was to extend a lucrative job offer. For example, promising a staffer a job once they were done serving the Hill—which could triple their salary—would always seal the deal.
As Abramoff says, from that point on, he "owned" them, and whatever he wanted done for his clients was done… and then some.
Lobbyists often craft purposefully nebulous language to change the US code to specific ends of industry, and these amendments are then sneaked into various bills, which no one reads before passing.
The same shenanigans occur between other federal agencies and drug companies.
For example, the revolving door between the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and various drug companies and other industries, such as the biotech industry, has done untold damage to public health and health freedom.
It is very common for high-ranking FDA officials to get lucrative consulting positions with the drug companies after they quit.
The converse is also very common.
Federal officials can get paid millions by the drug companies before they make the switch over to the FDA, like the current FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg did with Henry Schein."
An estimated two-thirds of Ambramoff's direct contributions went to Republican congressmen, and one-third to Democratic congressional leaders.
"As surely as water flows downhill, money in politics flows to where the power is."
DOES MONEY FOLLOW POWER OR IS POWER GAINED BY TAKING MONEY FOR CONGRESSIONAL FAVORS?
INDIAN GAMING IS A DROP IN THE BUCKET COMPARED TO WHAT BIG PHARMA SHELLS OUT TO LOBBYISTS TO BUY CONGRESSIONAL VOTES.
HOW BIG IS THE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY, WHICH, BY THE WAY, SPENDS MORE ON CONGRESSIONAL LOBBYING THAN ANY OTHER INDUSTRY?
IT'S A $1.1 TRILLION GIANT.
To put these mind-boggling numbers into a more comprehensive perspective, the pharmaceutical industry is worth more than the gross domestic product (GDP) of 168 different nations on this planet (individually, not collectively). That's right—if Big Pharma's global market was compared to the GDP—the market value of all the output produced in a nation in one year—then Big Pharma would rank # 15 on a list of 183 nations.
LET'S BE HONEST...WE'VE SEEN OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS ON 'THE HILL' VOTE FOR SOMETHING WE KNOW THE MAJORITY OF HIS/HER CONSTITUENTS (WE, THE PEOPLE) HAVE BEEN AGAINST, AFTER BEING "WOOED" BY BIG BUSINESS' HIRED HENCHMEN, THE PROFESSIONAL LOBBYISTS.
Ex-lobbyist: Most in Congress accept bribes - USA Today
"FOLLOW THE MONEY"... IF YOU CAN...AND WATCH ...WHO IS BUYING WHOM.
"Individuals and interest groups will give campaign contributions to ( AND LOBBY) politicians in the best position to deliver what they're looking for.
That means incumbents get vastly more than challengers, committee chairmen and legislative leaders get more than rank-and-file members, and parties in power get more than parties in the minority.
In the halls of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., most of the nitty-gritty work of crafting new laws gets done not on the floor of the House or Senate, but at the committee level.
No important bill is considered without first winning approval from at least one committee, and often several. Those panels are thus enormously important to the industries they oversee.
Because of that, expect members of the Agriculture Committee to get the most in contributions from agribusiness interests; Banking Committee members from financial firms, etc.
And expect the chairmen of the committees -- and ranking minority members -- to top the list of recipients.
When a member of Congress changes committees, the main source of his or her financial support typically changes as well."
"While lobbying is an important democratic right, most Americans view lobbyists negatively.
A Gallup Poll released in 2013 showed that only six percent of Americans believe lobbyists are honest or have high ethical standards.
Further confirming America’s view of lobbyists, seven in ten Americans believe that lobbyists have too much influence in Washington.
Those who disagree with our current lobbying system point to the Citizen’s United Supreme Court case, which allowed unlimited donations to political campaigns.
They worry that such a broad decision may give lobbyists more power in negotiating a legislator’s vote.
In addition, the pressure of interest groups influences politicians to vote in favor of the interest group, which may not line up with their constituents’ viewpoints.
Finally, there’s a consistent fear that lobbyists use bribery and monetary threats to guide government actions."
IT MAY BE THE "DIRTIEST SECRET" OF CAPITOL HILL, BUT I DOUBT IT.
CONGRESSIONAL LOBBYISTS MAKE AN AVERAGE OF MILLIONS PER YEAR TO SIMPLY BADGER, BRIBE AND BEND CONGRESSMEN TO THE WILL OF THOSE THEY "LOBBY" FOR.
BECAUSE MOST AMERICANS WON'T READ AND RESEARCH ON THEIR OWN AND THOSE IN POLITICS KNOW THIS AND USE IT TO THEIR BENEFIT, THE "SECRET WORLD" OF CONGRESSIONAL LOBBYISTS IS VIRTUALLY UNKNOWN TO THE VOTING, TAX-PAYING PUBLIC.
BLISSFULLY UNAWARE THAT SOME OF THEIR HARD-EARNED TAX DOLLARS ARE BEING SPENT BY EVERYONE FROM GROUPS OF HOMETOWN BUSINESSES AND INSTITUTIONS TO LOCAL, STATE AND FEDERAL OFFICIALS TO SWAY THE VOTES AND GARNER FAVORS FROM MEMBERS OF THE CAPITOL HILL GANG OF MISCREANTS, AVERAGE CITIZEN SEEMS ALWAYS SHOCKED WHEN ONE OF THE 'BIG NAME' LOBBYISTS GETS BUSTED DIRTY-DEALING...ESPECIALLY IF THAT LOBBYIST IS AN EX-SENATOR/REPRESENTATIVE OR EX-GOVERNOR OR EX-ELECTED ONE OF ANY ILK.
IT'S A MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR RACKET AND EVERYONE WANTS A PIECE OF THE ACTION...EXCEPT FOR THOSE PAYING THROUGH THE NOSE FOR WHAT IT COSTS TO GET SOME ACTION.
WE'LL HAVE A LOOK AT THE BIGGEST SCANDALS TO HIT THE DARK WORLD OF WASHINGTON LOBBYISTS IN A FEW PARAGRAPHS, BUT FOR NOW, LET'S SEE WHAT THE REGISTERED GOLD-DIGGERS HAVE BEEN UP TO (BESIDES UP TO THEIR NECKS IN THE SEWER WITH OTHER RATS).
UNDER THE BANNER OF "LOBBYING DATABASE", ONE WATCHDOG ORGANIZATION ('CENTER FOR RESPONSIVE POLITICS') STATES, REGARDING WASHINGTON D.C. LOBBYISTS:
"In addition to campaign contributions to elected officials and candidates, companies, labor unions, and other organizations spend billions of dollars each year to lobby Congress and federal agencies. Some special interests retain lobbying firms, many of them located along Washington's legendary K Street; others have lobbyists working in-house. We've got totals spent on lobbying, beginning in 1998, for everyone from AAI Corp. to Zurich Financial."
DO AMERICANS CARE?
SINCE I FIND THAT MOST TO WHOM I MENTION LOBBYISTS DON'T REALLY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE OR WHAT THEY DO, OBVIOUSLY NOT.
ONLY ONE FRIEND KNEW THAT LOBBYING IS PROTECTED BY THE FIRST AMENDMENT!
"Lobbying is a right protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and ultimately allows citizens to shape legislators’ decisions. U.S. citizens have the right to petition, free speech, and freedom of the press, so when citizens want to influence government policy, they are constitutionally protected.
Those who hire lobbyists are usually called special interest groups–groups of people who use advocacy to influence policy and public opinion.
Lobbying is not only popular on the federal level, but also at the state level.
A 2006 survey by the Center for Public Integrity reported that there were 40,000 paid lobbyists working with state legislatures, with that number expected to rise. Other lobbying efforts are even more local. Trying to persuade a city council to halt (OR ALLOW) something like a construction project is another common example of lobbying."
HERE'S A QUICK SUMMARY OF LOBBYING/LOBBYISTS, OBVIOUSLY BY SOMEONE WHO SEES THE "PROFESSIONALS" AND EX-ELECTED ONES ACTING AS HIGH-PAID LOBBYISTS AS HUMAN BEINGS:
"Anyone who petitions the government or contacts their member of Congress to voice an opinion is functioning as a lobbyist.
Lobbying is a regulated industry and a protected activity under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that guarantees rights to free speech, assembly, and petition.
Lobbying involves more than persuading legislators. Professional lobbyists research and analyze legislation or regulatory proposals, attend congressional hearings, and educate government officials and corporate officers on important issues.
Lobbyists also work to change public opinion through advertising campaigns or by influencing 'opinion leaders'.
Who do lobbyists work for?
Lobbyists represent just about every American institution and interest group - labor unions, corporations, colleges and universities, churches, charities, environmental groups, senior citizens organizations, and even state, local or foreign governments.
How does someone become a lobbyist?
(BESIDES BEING EXPERT AT LYING AND BUTT-KISSING?)
What background or training is needed?
(EVER WORK IN A BROTHEL BEFORE?)
Lobbyists come from all walks of life. Most are college graduates, and many have advanced degrees. Many lobbyists begin their careers working on Capitol Hill in a congressional office.
Lobbyists must have strong communication skills and knowledge of the legislative process as well as the industry that they are representing.
While there is no formal training to become a lobbyist, the State Government Affairs Council offers the Lobbying Certificate Program, a continuing education program which helps those of all skill levels improve their knowledge of the legislative process and lobbying profession.
Many lobbyists get experience while in college by interning on Capitol Hill.
(See a guide to Washington DC Internships - Interning on Capitol Hill.)
Does a lobbyist have to be registered?
(AS WHAT? VERMIN?)
Since 1995, the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) has required individuals who are paid for lobbying at the federal level to register with the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House.
Lobbying firms, self-employed lobbyists and organizations employing lobbyists must file regular reports of lobbying activity."
THERE ARE LOOPHOLES.
OVERALL SPENDING TOTALS FOR LOBBYING THE CROOKS ON THE HILL LOOKS TO BE DOWN FROM A HIGH (REPORTED NUMBERS ONLY) OF OVER $3 1/2 BILLION IN 2010 TO UNDER $2 1/2 BILLION IN 2016.
MAYBE THEY JUST LEARNED HOW TO HIDE THE FIGURES BETTER, OR, AS ALWAYS, NOBODY IS ENFORCING THAT "ACT" TO KEEP TABS ON THINGS?
IT IS BEST FOR CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATES IF THE VOTERS DON'T SEE WHO WENT KNOCK-KNOCK-KNOCKING ON EVERY CONGRESSMAN'S DOOR WITH A LITTLE "INCENTIVE" TO PLAY NICE WITH WHOMEVER THEY REPRESENT, AND TO HIDE WHICH LOBBYISTS' BOSSES CONTRIBUTE MOST TO THOSE CAMPAIGN 'WAR CHESTS'.
THE RECORD NUMBER OF "REGISTERED" LOBBYISTS WAS SET IN 2007 WHEN 14,822 ADMITTED THEY WERE LOBBYISTS, BUT THE NUMBER WAS DOWN TO A REGISTERED 10,882 IN 2016., LOWEST SINCE 1998.
WHO ARE THE TOP 20 BIG SPENDERS ON LOBBYING?
YOU MAY BE SURPRISED...
US Chamber of Commerce was, is, and will likely always be the TOP of the heap, spending $79,205,000 to grab Congress' ear.
But look at the next five!
Why would realtors, hospitals, a medical insurance company and Big Pharma spend SO MANY MILLIONS to lobby the U.S. Congress?
Who is 'Alphabet, Inc.'?
Alphabet Inc. is an American multinational conglomerate founded on October 2, 2015, by the two founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
'Southern Co," is a utilities conglomerate, oil, gas, electric.
What about FedEx?
Why would THEY need to lobby anyone?
You'd be surprised, I'd wager.
2016 LIST, THOSE WHO CAME AFTER THE U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE:
National Assn of Realtors $45,255,769
Blue Cross/Blue Shield $19,058,109
American Hospital Assn $15,454,734
American Medical Assn $15,290,000
Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America $14,717,500
Boeing Co $12,870,000
AT&T Inc $12,660,000
National Assn of Broadcasters $12,118,000
Alphabet Inc $11,850,000
Business Roundtable $11,530,000
Comcast Corp $10,510,000
Lockheed Martin $10,380,488
Dow Chemical $10,295,982
Southern Co $10,090,000
Northrop Grumman $9,420,000
National Cable & Telecommunications Assn $9,230,000
FedEx Corp $9,221,000
Exxon Mobil $8,840,000
[NOTE: All lobbying expenditures come from the Senate Office of Public Records. Data for the most recent year was downloaded on October 28, 2016.]
The top 100 lobbying firms income declined only 6 percent between 2007 and 2012 but the number of registered lobbyists dropped by 25 percent.
Much of the decline in lobbying activity is not a decline at all, but rather the side effect of lobbyists and lobbying firms taking advantage of a feature of the law which allows them to continue influencing policy from “behind the scenes.
” By working as policy advisors and in other “non-lobbyist” positions, former lobbyists can keep their current jobs but escape the consequences of being a registered lobbyist, leading people in and out of lobbying to suggest that those consequences act as a deterrent to transparency.
Rx-Congressmen and their high-level staff members (SUPPOSEDLY) must refrain from lobbying for up to two years in some cases.
These cooling-off periods, while meaningful, are not blanket restrictions on influence peddling.
Members of Congress are restricted, temporarily, from lobbying the body in which they used to serve, but they can still lobby federal agencies immediately after leaving office.
More significantly, unless they spend more than 20 percent of their time lobbying, they do not need to register as lobbyists at all and are therefore not subject to any restrictions
One former Democratic Senator, Tom Daschle, has even prompted some political influence denizens to call this the “Daschle exemption.”
After nearly twenty years serving in the House and Senate, including stints as Minority and Majority Leader of the Senate, Daschle went on to serve as a “special policy advisor” for law firm Alston & Bird, which, perhaps coincidentally, doubled its lobbying income during his first year at the firm.
Newt Gingrich, a former Republican Speaker of the House and presidential candidate, never registered as a lobbyist, despite making hundreds of thousands of dollars advising Freddie Mac, among other clients, on public policy issues through his company, The Gingrich Group, during the height of the housing bubble.
News reports say Gingrich met with members of Congress regarding issues salient to his clients and yet he never had to register as an official lobbyist.
Many observers theorize that a lot of lobbying has simply gone underground and is being done by individuals who are able to avoid the federal threshold for disclosure.
In short, the public is now being provided less information about which organizations are hiring which people to influence federal policy and how much they are truly spending (or earning) to do so."
HOW LONG HAVE LOBBYISTS BEEN BUYING CONGRESS?
SINCE AT LEAST THE 1800s!
LET'S LOOK AT THE REALLY DARK SIDE OF LOBBYING THROUGH THE LONG YEARS.
Top Ten Congressional Lobbying Scandals in US History
1. 1857, the New York Times published an expose of lobbying for the Pacific Railroad bill, charging that lobbyists had shaped a bill in order to pillage federal lands. The House opened an investigation that led four representatives to resign (the House also expelled from its galleries the Times reporter who broke the story).
2. 1872, the New York Sun exposed the Credit Mobilier scandal, where a railroad lobbyist provided stock to members of Congress to make them more likely to increase appropriations for transcontinental railroad construction. Both the Senate and House investigated the charges, which ruined the careers of two vice presidents, a Speaker, and other members of both bodies.
3. 1906, Cosmopolitan magazine publishes David Graham Phillips’ series of muckraking exposes on the “Treason of the Senate,” in which he accused prominent senators of representing special interests rather than the public interest. The series contributes to political pressure that results in the Seventeenth Amendment requiring senators to be elected by the public rather than by state legislatures.
4. 1913, the New York World ran an expose of questionable tactics by a lobbyist for the National Association of Manufacturers seeking to influence tariff rates. One member of the House resigned and the House passed a bill requiring lobbyists to register with Congress.
The Senate declined to go along with the reform.
5. 1929, the New York World accused Connecticut Senator Hiram Bingham of bringing a paid agent for the Connecticut Manufacturers’ Association into closed committee meetings on a pending tariff bill. The Senate investigated and censured Bingham (previously prominent as the discoverer of Machu Picchu), who was then defeated for reelection.
6. 1962, a Des Moines Register correspondent reported that Senate Majority Secretary Bobby Baker accepted favors from lobbyists in exchange for providing access to powerful senators. A Senate committee investigated and Baker was later convicted of income tax evasion.
7. 1976, the Washington Post broke the story that the Justice Department was investigating South Korean agent Tongsun Park, who had distributed illegal gifts to members of Congress. Congressional investigation of “Koreagate” ended with the reprimand of three members of the House and the indictment of two others.
8. 1990, accounts in the Orange County Register, the Mesa [Arizona] Tribune, the Detroit News, the Los Angeles Times, the Arizona Republic, and the Wall Street Journal revealed that five senators met with the head of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board about the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, whose head, Charles H. Keating, Jr. had made substantial contributions to their political campaigns.
The Senate Ethics Committee investigated the Keating Five, and reprimanded one of them, California Senator Alan Cranston.
9. 2005, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported a bribery scandal involving lobbyists’ gifts and payments to Representative Randy “Duke” Cunningham that led to his resignation from Congress and criminal conviction.
10. 2005, Washington Post reporters revealed that Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff was the central figure in a congressional corruption scandal, as Justice Department prosecutors investigated him for fraud and bribery allegations.
SINCE THAT 'TOP 10 LIST' LEFT OUT SOME OF THE MOST DESPICABLE LOBBYISTS (IN MY OPINION) AND ONLY WENT TO 2006, LET'S ADD A FEW, MAYBE A COUPLE THAT HAVE COME TO LIGHT SINCE THEN.
~~LIKE THE 2011 JOHN MCCAIN AFFAIR WITH A FEMALE LOBBYIST, MCCAIN, WHO SURROUNDS HIMSELF WITH LOBBYISTS.
"The New York Times published a bombshell report linking Sen. John McCain to lobbyist Vicki Iseman.".
"Ex-McCain Aide Says He Tried To Intervene: More details from the Washington Post:"
~~LET US NOT OVERLOOK TONY PODESTA, BROTHER OF JOHN PODESTA, HILARY CLINTON'S "MAIN MAN".
While John kept the revolving door spinning, Tony held the fort at the Podesta Group, the lobbying firm they founded in the late ’80s.
(Can we begin to imagine the "insider information" Tony has been privy to?)
The Podesta Group’s client list reads like a who’s who of awfulness—Bank of America, Mubarak’s Egypt, British Petroleum, and nearly every other military and for-profit health care conglomerate known to man (and let’s not forget the bailed-out likes of General Motors).
The firm’s yearly income jumped from a relatively meager $10 million in ’07 to nearly $30 million [since] Obama.
~~Jack N. Gerard
As president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, Gerard spews nearly as much pollution as the 400 fossil fuel-extracting companies he represents.
The group spent almost $8 million of its $200 million budget in 2010 (Gerard banked $6.5 million in the same year) actively lobbying against any and all environmental regulations.
The rest goes to slick front groups, disinformation campaigns, contributing to future lobbyists and groups like Americans for Prosperity and ALEC, and funding bunk science to undercut public understanding of climate change.
Taking their cues from an earlier generation of tobacco industry doubt merchants, a still-relevant 1998 Petroleum Institute internal memo reads: “Victory will be achieved when . . . citizens ‘understand’ uncertainties in climate science . . . [and] recognition of uncertainties becomes part of the ‘conventional wisdom.’
THE FOLLOWING IS QUITE LENGTHY, BUT OF ALL I CAN THINK OF, IT SHOWS MOST CLEARLY THE SHAMELESSNESS OF OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS AS THEY PULL THE WOOL OVER ALL OUR EYES AND SELL THEIR COLLECTIVE SOUL TO BIG BUSINESS, USING LOBBYISTS TO SWAY ONE ANOTHER AND HARD-SELL THE AMERICAN PUBLIC ON BILLS THAT WILL COST US AND OUR CHILDREN'S CHILDREN TRILLIONS OF HARD-EARNED DOLLARS ACROSS TIME.
THIS THAT FOLLOWS SURELY DESCRIBES ONE OF, IF NOT THE WORST AND DARKEST NIGHTS ON CAPITOL HILL, A NIGHT OF RAMPANT MISUSE OF THE POWER THEY HAVE AND HOW SHAMELESSLY THEY SELL OUT THOSE OF US WHO VOTE FOR THEM OVER AND OVER AGAIN.
BUT REMEMBER, BIG PHARMA'S REACH EXTENDS BEYOND JUST CONGRESS, INTO FEDERAL AGENCIES LIKE THE FDA AND THE WHITE HOUSE STAFF AS WELL.
How does the pharmaceutical industry keep America's drug prices among the highest in the world?
Lobbying Congress, buying Congressional votes.
"You may have never heard of Billy Tauzin (He was a Democrat when the voters in Louisiana’s Third Congressional District elected him to Congress in 1980, but "turned Republican" in 1994.), but we’re paying dearly for Tauzin’s tireless work for the pharmaceuticbal industry.
So are our employers and co-workers. We all are. And in the future, so will our children and grandchildren.
Everyone who buys health insurance will have to fork over more money to health insurance companies every payday because of the deals Tauzin cut for Big Pharma.
We can also thank Wilbert Joseph Tauzin II and many of his friends in Washington for increases in both our taxes and the national debt.
For many years, Tauzin was one of the pharmaceutical industry’s most important allies in Congress, especially from 2001 to 2004, when he chaired the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees the Food and Drug Administration. While he held that chairmanship, drug companies and insurance and health professionals contributed nearly $1 million to Tauzin’s congressional campaigns.
That’s chump change, though, compared to what the pharmaceutical industry paid him as its top lobbyist when he left Congress in 2005. His salary increased more than twelve-fold — from $162,100 to $2 million — the minute he signed on as president and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the industry’s powerful trade group.
To get what they wanted written into the ObamaCare Bill, Big Pharma spent $275 million in JUST 2009, a figure that stands as the greatest amount ever spent on lobbying by one industry in a single year.
The industry also doled out millions of dollars in campaign contributions in 2008 and 2009, much of it to Democrats who ostensibly were in charge of writing the reform legislation.
PhRMA's ability to influence elections and public policy has made it the envy of most other corporate advocacy groups in Washington.
In fact, by 2023, the US government’s debt will likely be more than a trillion dollars higher than it otherwise would be BECAUSE OF the way Tauzin, on behalf of the pharmaceutical companies, and other lobbyists — with the blessing of President George W. Bush and Republican leaders in Congress — wrote the Medicare drug bill in 2003.
That "BILL" was written in a way that boosts drug company profits while doing little to make prescription medications more affordable for the vast majority of Americans. In fact, drug prices are going up at a faster clip than ever before.
CONGRESS, AS ALWAYS, WITH THE "HELP" OF LOBBYISTS, WRITES THE "BILLS" AND WE PAY FOR THEM.
Our elected officials continue to accept as gospel Big Pharma’s talking points that (1) any constraint on pharmaceutical companies’ ability to gouge us would “stifle” or “have a chilling effect” on innovation and (2) they have to charge Americans more because other countries won’t let them gouge their citizens.
[I BEG TO DIFFER. THEY DO NOT ACCEPT ANY SUCH THING. THEY KNOW BETTER, BUT USE THIS AS AN EXCUSE TO SELL THE WHOLE THING IN THE PRESS TO A GULLIBLE, BLINDLY TRUSTING PUBLIC. CONGRESS AND THE CORPORATE LOBBYISTS KNOW HOW TO MAKE AMERICANS BOW TO THE DEMIGODS OF INDUSTRY AS THE JOB-GIVING, WAGE-PAYING "MASTERS AND SAVIORS". THE DEMIGODS MUST NOT BE ANGERED OR JOBS AND WAGES MIGHT CEASE. ]
For the success of this propaganda we can thank the millions of dollars in dark money the industry spends every year on deceptive PR campaigns.
In 2013 we spent exactly 100 percent more per capita on pharmaceuticals than the average of the 34 countries that comprise the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), of which the United States is a member.
According to Express Scripts’ prescription price index, a branded drug that cost $100 in 2008 had almost doubled in price six years later. This rapid increase in drug prices is one of the reasons why health insurers and employers that offer coverage to their workers are constantly raising not only the premiums we have to pay but also our out-of-pocket costs through higher deductibles and coinsurance rates.
1994, Bill Clinton wanted to give Medicare the ability to negotiate with drug companies and to make it legal for medications made in the United States and exported to Canada and other countries to be imported back into the States and sold at lower prices. Both of those policy changes undoubtedly would have cut into drug company profit margins. But the Clinton reform legislation never made it to the floor of either the House or Senate for a vote.
Industry lobbyists were able to kill it in committee.
As Bruce Bartlett, who served as domestic policy adviser to President Ronald Reagan, wrote in The New York Times ten years later, enacting a new drug benefit — written by lobbyists without cost containment provisions — had Bush’s full support. “Looking ahead to a close reelection in 2004, he thought a new government giveaway to the elderly would increase his vote share among this group,” Bartlett wrote.
Not wanting to risk losing generous campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical industry, however, Bush and congressional leaders, including Tauzin, who by then chaired the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, invited drug company lobbyists to help shape what would become the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003.
Also invited to the table were lobbyists for health insurers. They made certain that Medicare beneficiaries who wanted drug coverage would have to buy it from private insurers.
THAT IS TOO MUCH POWER AND, AS WE CAN NOW SEE, IT'S BIG MONEY THAT CREATES BIG POWER.
“The pharmaceutical lobbyists wrote the bill,” a disgusted Republican Representative Walter Jones of North Carolina’s Third Congressional District later told 60 Minutes after voting against the measure.
The timing of the vote was in itself unusual. What came next, however, was something that had never happened before in the history of the country. Jones said it was the “ugliest night” he had ever witnessed in more than two decades as a member of Congress.
Tauzin, Hastert and DeLay, who had received hundreds of thousands of dollars from drug companies during their political careers, believed they had the support they needed when they called for a vote at 3:00 a.m. on Saturday. When asked why he thought House leaders had scheduled the vote long after most Americans had gone to bed, Representative Dan Burton (R-IN), who also voted against the bill, said “a lot of shenanigans were going on that night (that) they didn’t want on national television.”
Among the shenanigans, reportedly sanctioned by House leaders: freezing C-SPAN cameras and allowing lobbyists on the House floor as the vote was being taken. (Lobbyists who previously served in Congress had floor privileges until the enactment of the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007, which was passed in the aftermath of the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal.)
Despite the arm twisting, the bill was still short of the 218 votes needed for passage after the standard 15-minute voting period. Rather than accept defeat, however, Hastert added two minutes to the voting clock. When that wasn’t enough, Hastert decided to keep the vote open indefinitely to give the pharmaceutical lobbyists more time to change minds.
As 4:00 a.m. approached, the industry was still three votes short, but House leaders and the industry’s platoon of lobbyists were not yet ready to concede. Their persistence finally paid off when Republican representative Ernest Istook of Oklahoma switched his vote. Seven other Republicans eventually followed Istook’s lead. When the “yeas” reached 220 at 5:53 a.m., almost three hours after the vote began, Hastert declared the bill passed. It was the longest electronic vote in congressional history.
Writing in the conservative 'National Review' ten years later, Noah Glyn described the law as “perhaps the most prominent example of big government Republicanism during the Bush years.”
Norman Ornstein of the conservative American Enterprise Institute called it a “huge trophy” for the Bush reelection team.
Indeed. Although his margin of victory over Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts in the 2004 general election was the slimmest in American history for an incumbent president, Bush received just enough additional votes from Medicare beneficiaries, especially in Florida with its 27 electoral votes, to make the difference.
Within three years after Bush signed the bill into law, according to 60 Minutes, at least 15 members of Congress, congressional staffers and administration officials who had played a role in the bill’s passage had left office and joined the pharmaceutical industry."
IF YOU WANT A BIGGER, BETTER PICTURE OF WHY AMERICANS TODAY MUST OFTEN CHOOSE WHETHER TO HAVE FOOD ON THE TABLE OR MEDICINE TO SUSTAIN LIFE, GO HAVE THE LONGER READ ON THIS IN EXCRUCIATING DETAIL AT (BILL) MOYERS & COMPANY.
YOU CAN SEE HOW LITTLE IT TAKES TO BUY A POLITICIAN.
WRITING LAWS, PASSING BILLS BECOMES A MATTER OF MONEY, LOTS AND LOTS OF CAMPAIGN MONEY AND THEN MORE MONEY AS CONGRESSMEN TRANSITION FROM LOW-PAYING TO MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR JOBS AS LOBBYISTS AND "ADVISERS" TO BIG BUSINESS AFTER THEY EITHER GET VOTED OUT OR DECIDE TO LEAVE ON THEIR OWN FOR THOSE HIGHER-PAYING CORPORATE SLOTS THEY FIT SO NICELY INTO.
NOTHING IS DONE BY THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE ANYMORE, BUT BY POWERFUL LOBBYISTS WHO SWAY THOSE WE ELECT TO VOTE AGAINST US.
NO MATTER WHAT WE ASK OUR ELECTEDS TO VOTE FOR OR AGAINST, IF THEY CAN BE PAID TO VOTE OTHERWISE AND CHOOSE TO DO SO, WE HAVE TRAITORS IN GOVERNMENT.
WHEN AN ELECTED OFFICIAL IS MORE CONCERNED WITH SUCKING UP TO POWERFUL CORPORATIONS AND PADDING THEIR OWN WALLETS THAN THEY ARE WITH DOING THE RIGHT THING FOR THE POPULACE AND THE NATION, THEN WE HAVE LOST AMERICA.
AND SO WE HAVE...LOST AMERICA.
~BEST GOVERNMENT MONEY CAN BUY
~ MONEY FOLLOWS POWER.
Congress Should Refuse Donations From Fossil Fuel Industry which spends half a billion dollars on lobbying.
Congressmen Come and Go, But Corruption Is Here To Stay
Congressmen Maintain Massive Portfolios of Oil and Gas Investments
"The Lobbyist's Playbook"
Who Owns Congress? A Campaign Cash Seating Chart | Mother Jones
How to Own a Congressman | Common Dreams
Posted by Waninahi at 9:13 PM