Heath Care Industry Rule Number Four Thousand and Eighty: DC lobbyists are shady. And exactly how shady are the lobbyists of Washington DC who worked both sides of the health care debate? They ghostwrote speeches for politicians lining their pockets.
I mean, I guess we shouldn't be shocked? It's generally been accepted and engendered as common knowledge that the health care industry—where people go to, you know, try to keep living—is among the most bottom-line profit centers in America. That bottom line, of course, being somewhere between your heartbeat and your wallet. I still find this one a little hard to get over, though: it's probably been going on for years, and it's no doubt common practice where it's exercised, but still. When people are as unabashedly, apologetically having their agendas literally written by multinational corporations, you have to wonder what it's gonna take for someone to throw the first Molotov Cocktail, figurative or otherwise.
The New York Times found emails proving that a subsidiary of Swiss pharmaceutical pusher Roche had their distributed talking points for both Democrats and Republicans printed in the Congressional Record under the names of 42 representatives. It was almost an even split: 22 Republicans, 20 Democrats.
This shit's just incredible. Watch this jackass blame it on his staff instead of making himself accountable:
In an interview, Representative Bill Pascrell Jr., Democrat of New Jersey, said: "I regret that the language was the same. I did not know it was." He said he got his statement from his staff and "did not know where they got the information from."
Asshole. Now, you're probably wondering, well, come on, how blatant was this? They had to at least, I don't know, slip them pieces of paper, hard copies. I mean, this is the kind of thing that's only talked about at lobbyists firms, when they're wasted and jumping around with glee at making their money influential in politics! Right. Right?
In an e-mail message to fellow lobbyists on Nov. 5, two days before the House vote, Todd M. Weiss, senior managing director of Sonnenschein, said, "We are trying to secure as many House R's and D's to offer this/these statements for the record as humanly possible." He told the lobbyists to "conduct aggressive outreach to your contacts on the Hill to see if their bosses would offer the attached statements (or an edited version) for the record."
You're reading this correctly.
[Interlude: Can we get a #FuckYeahNYT? This is the fourth estate at their finest.]
So. Exactly how upset should we be about this? Because this isn't groundbreaking, this is just more proof that the scenario here is circumstantial. Lobbyists are running the rhetoric of Washington D.C., shamelessly, the more money they have behind them, the better they're doing.
Our elected officials are a bunch of clowns. Smart words written by smarter, better paid people are given to them. The words come out of their mouths. They get something in return. The chance to sound smart? Money? Who knows. Can we stop it? Can we make Washington a cleaner place where lawmakers aren't spoon-feeding the future of our country the poisonous horseshit that is a medical company's bottom line? And mind you: this is just one lobby. And one instance.
Is there any kind of indignation or recognition that this might be even—maybe, kinda, sorta—disingenuous and sociopathic behavior on behalf of our elected officials? Can Washington even recognize its own processes for what they are?
Asked about the Congressional statements, a lobbyist close to Genentech said: "This happens all the time. There was nothing nefarious about it."
Right. So. You done with that bottle?