Monday, July 06, 2009

Once Again, The Revolving Door

An article in today's Washington Post examines the phenomenon of former government and congressional employees going to work as lobbyists for health care companies in the upcoming health care debate. These new lobbyists include former employees of prominent senators such as Democrat Max Baucus and Republican Charles E. Grassley, as well as former lawmakers such as Dick Armey and Dick Gephardt, and are working for pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, as well as industry lobbying groups such as the American Medical Association and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). The lobbyists claim that their contacts with lawmakers do not give them or those they represent any extra advantages, but public interest groups are not so sure.

My Gut Reaction: The lobbyists and congressmen may be sincere in their protestations of innocence, but this situation still makes me rather quesy.

Analysis: With all these lobbyists weighing in on health care reform, it seems the only ones not getting Congress's ear are the American people. Although the public is supposed to be represented by our elected officials, I have the suspicion we get far less attention than these corporate lobbyists. Although some may argue that hiring lobbyists is simply a form of free speech, to me, hiring a former government official to speak for you seems a lot like influence peddling.

No comments: