NPR Plays Spot The Healthcare Lobbyists At Healthcare Reform Hearing

from the nice dept

As those involved in public policy issues know all too well, much of what happens in DC is driven (or at least heavily influenced) by lobbyists. But, for the most part, the lobbyists stay out of the spotlight, allowing politicians to present their positions for them. But the lobbyists themselves are never far away — it’s just that the press always has the cameras facing the politicians, and the lobbyists go undetected. That’s why it’s great to see that NPR actually has tried turning the cameras around (found via Jerry Brito). At a hearing on healthcare reform, NPR photographers turned around and photographed those in the audience, and then placed the photo online, asking viewers to identify the lobbyists in attendance. Brito points out that it’s not clear that enough people who would know actually have looked at the photo, but it’s still a nice idea.

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Comments on “NPR Plays Spot The Healthcare Lobbyists At Healthcare Reform Hearing”

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Glen S Schmidt (profile) says:

Re: Mr Big Content

Privacy violation? If you attend a public function where there are going to be plenty of photographers in attendance, why should you be surprised if you’re photographed? Even if you’re in the audience? Terrorist attack? How would it increase potential for terrorist attack by knowing who the lobbyists are? What are you talking about? Are you serious?

Joe (profile) says:

Why can't we just get rid of lobbyists again?

I never really cared for them, and it doesn’t really make sense since it is pretty much just big business trying to have influence on government. Why not just outlaw lobbyists and change our legal system while we are at it.

Put in place a 3 strikes policy on frivolous lawsuits where if a lawyer takes a case that is considered to be a waste of the courts time 3 times they lose their license to practice for 3 years.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Why can't we just get rid of lobbyists again?

Clevername is 100% correct. Access to lawmakers is often purchased. I don’t think anyone objects to private citizens working with lawmakers, but everyone knows what actually happens.

Lawmakers are often purchased. Especially when a senator’s son is hired for 6-figures to lobby his dad to sponsor a bill.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Outlawing the process of lobbying legislators is a little over the top, but believing that collective profesional lobbies are the only way private citizens can “talk” to lawmakers is pretty silly too.”

I’m not so sure it’s over the top at all. The problem with lobbyists, and it’s one that doesn’t get voiced enough, is that they are essentially hired guns. Company A hires lobbyist x to represent them, except that lobbyist x has nothing else to do with company A. Lobbyists for healthcare reform don’t give a rat’s ass about healthcare; they’re just doing the job.

If groups of private citizens want to band together to form a group to petition THEIR representatives (not federal) to represent their interests, then why wouldn’t they send one of THEIR OWN PEOPLE? Because it isn’t about talking to representatives, it’s about clout and influence, and that’s fucked up. This is why state’s rights are so important, and federal trampling is nothing more than a power/money grab by fascist elements that gave been operating since the end of WWII in this country.

Anonymous Coward says:

Me thinks that NPR has a hidden agenda (as is par for the course).

I have a feeling that this material will be used as “proof” for the agenda that NPR is pushing. It will be the “greedy” insurance industry that derailed the plan to save America and help all those poor, poor people. This agenda is already clear as the lie around the number of uninsured Americans and why they are uninsured is continually propagated.

Now don’t get me wrong there is way too much lobbyist involvement and influence pedaling in Washington. Unfortunately it is the lobbyists from from the other side that are most often called out. The story is the same. Lobbyist A is evil and trying to prevent or influence something. Whereas lobbyist B is just trying to help people.

Healthcare reform is needed but more gov’t involvement and massive increases to the public debt are not the answer.

Given the track record for gov’t spending don’t believe the very low figure of $1 trillion over the next decade. It relies on “savings” from preventative care that will not be realized and does not account for the increased use because something is now “Free”.

DCX2 says:

Re: Re:

That “massive increase to the public debt” will lift a heavy burden from the shoulders of corporations like GM and others who are being crushed by the health care costs. People will also spend less on health insurance. All that private capital that was going to go to health care can now go to other sectors of the economy.

Valkor says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yes, corporations will spend less on health insurance, citizens will spend less on health insurance premiums, but that will simply shift that same heavy burden to the federal government, and they need your money too. All that “private capital” will not go to other sectors of the economy; it will go back to the health care system via the federal government, minus the money lost due to the inefficiencies of middlemen in general and the government in particular.

Malpractice lawsuit reform, drug approval process reform, and the elimination of the idea that everybody *deserves* the best health care money can buy, without any money to buy it, are the things that will really go a long way in eliminating inefficiencies in the health care system, reducing health care costs, and lifting that “heavy burden” without government administration of everyone’s health care.

Wolfy says:

We won’t be able to break the choke-hold lobbyists have on our government until we get the RNC and the DNC to eliminate the “dues” they require from our Reps and Sens. that amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. They have to pay these dues to continue to hold their various positions.. i.e. Chairperson of the Judicial Committee. The salaries are not enough to live in DC and pay these dues. Enter lobbyists with their hands-full of cash… perfect for dues-paying.

Justin L (profile) says:

Bought and Sold...

The problem with lobbyists is that people without $500,000 to contribute to a campaign war chest don’t ever want the same thing that people with $500k want.

When situations like these are allowed to exist, how can we expect this country to be able to hold up to ideas like, “this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that [b]government of the people, by the people, for the people,[/b] shall not perish from the earth.”?

This allows, no, requires that this country is legislated in the favor of corporations, being that corporations have a duty to their shareholders to ensure that they do everything inside, and I’m sure at times outside the law to increase the value of their stock. They hire lobbyists to influence, or bribe if I’m not going to mince words, the law to allow them to keep higher percentages of their earnings.

In theory, the more money you make the higher the percentage of income taxes you pay. When the tax code is changed to allow CEO’s and the like to receive bonuses ten times what their salary is and for that bonus to be tax deductible for the corporation, how does that benefit the general public, the average American? This wouldn’t happen unless our fine politicians who write the tax code were very well taken care of.

It’s really sad that the wealthier you are, the less you have to pay in taxes. This will never change as long as money is considered free speech. Politicians don’t even have a choice. They have to raise thousands of dollars a week just to save enough to get themselves re-elected. Even if a politician wanted to do what was right and screw the money in favor of the greater good, it likely wouldn’t have much effect and I suspect he wouldn’t remain in office long.

Obviously I’m not a professional analyst or politician so forgive all my inaccuracies and for my argument not being at all elegant. I’m just one of the little people who grew up being educated on how great our country is, all the lives that have been lost for the idea of the USA, only to eventually realize that our country had been bought and sold.

Can anyone tell me how we come back from this? What can be done? Is it going to require a political action group be formed to stand up for the general public, charging massive dues so that the average American can have a lobbyist fighting for what he needs?

Anonymous Coward says:

These charts show that the higher earners pay substantially more in taxes. Also you see that the percentage is increasing.

I’m not making any commentary on politics, just that most high earners do pay a lot in tax. Some people do find loopholes, but I know a lot of lower-middle class people who “forget” to report income too.

Justin L (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I think you’ll find that the total of what a person earns, whether is be considered salary, bonus, gift, whatever, and the percentage of that, that they SHOULD pay taxes on without the loopholes, is highly divergent the higher you go up the scale. I wish I could offer you evidence of that, but it’s not something that anyone advertises I suspect.

Justin L (profile) says:

Sunshine is the best disinfectant.

What if there was a website that tracked the pieces of legislation, gave information on their potential effect, along with anything attached to it (amendments, riders, etc), provided information on what contributions have been made to try and get it passed and by what lobbyists on behalf of what corporations/organizations?

Is all of that possible? Feasible? I have to imagine that if it were written plainly enough so that people could understand what was going on without any trouble, that people would be interested in it and might encourage them to call or write their representative, or somehow else get involved when they see something going on that stinks. I know I’d be interested!


Valkor says:

Re: Sunshine is the best disinfectant.

Let’s start with something reasonable: Have legislators READ all of the legislation they’re voting on. If a year isn’t enough time to read a year’s worth of laws, maybe you’re passing too many laws!!

After we require law makers (ha! Staffers and lobbyists write bills.) to read their laws, we can work on requiring actually understanding them.

JustMe says:

The A/C in comment 11 who thinks that NPR is pushing an agenda

Speaking of the pot calling the kettle black… You are free to post A/C but at *least* come out and state that you are biased. Your comments make it seem like you work for that industry, or are one of the people pictured in the photo.

Also, if you don’t think there is a schism between the Haves and the Have Nots in this country then go to any inner city hospital or free clinic and look around. The poor people aren’t there because they choose to be, and they aren’t there looking for handouts. They are trying to survive and this country is letting them down.

Something between 10% and 20% of the citizens in this country don’t have health care. So, A/C, how do you justify doctors who have taken the Hippocratic oath deciding that 1/10 or 1/5 people don’t get basic human care? Could it be that it isn’t a plot by NPR to soak the government out of money (WTF are you smoking?)? Isn’t it more likely that NPR is trying to shine a light on the dark places where doctors and hospital administrators and HMO administrators live much too closely with the health care lobby?

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