The Lobbyists' Ability To Control The Message

from the we-say-what-they-want dept

It certainly won’t come as much of a surprise to readers around here that lobbyists from Roche/Genentech were able to get 42 different members of Congress to include text they had written into the Congressional Record. For way too long, we’ve seen how much politicians seem to rely on lobbyists to write the legislation, create the talking points and (at times) even deferring questions to the lobbyists themselves. Is it any wonder that lobbyists have become the new celebrities?

But what is rather stunning about the NY Times story on how Genentech’s talking points were mentioned (with multiple Congressional reps using the exact same language) is how unconcerned everyone is about it. The lobbyists wrote up talking points for both sides of the aisle. It wasn’t about being in support or against the current healthcare bill, but just to get these Congressional Reps “on the record” in supporting key concepts, so that those same lobbyists can go back and point to such “bipartisan” support in the future, even if the Congressional reps themselves don’t even know what they’re talking about.

The NY Times talked to a bunch of Congressional offices about this, and they all seem to admit freely that the language came from Genentech lobbyists, and they incorporated it directly (sometimes with a few minor changes) into the remarks that get put into the Congressional record. This isn’t the fault of Genentech or its lobbyists — who, of course, are going to push for such things. The really damning part is that all of these Congressional reps don’t seem to think there’s any problem at all with simply taking text directly from a company and putting it into their own remarks as if they agree on the concept, when they don’t even seem to understand what they’re saying half of the time. Often these sorts of Congressional remarks are later used to show “Congress’ intent” in doing certain things. But, perhaps they should just start being upfront and honest about the fact that these remarks are “the industry’s intent” and simply signing them with the companies that actually wrote the language (or at least tagging the remarks with the name of the company/industry group that wrote it).

Filed Under: , ,
Companies: genentech, roche

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Comments on “The Lobbyists' Ability To Control The Message”

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elpookie (profile) says:

industry intent

Excellent idea. And you are quite right about the use of the “intent” language to interpret legislation. While not controlling overall it is deemed at least “persuasive” evidence of the intent of congress in passing a particular piece of legislation and it is given a degree of deference that perhaps it does not merit if the true source were known. Or course, I am somewhat biased against some politicians (affiliation does not matter). I would not dare insult cockroaches by comparing them to politicians.

Anonymous Coward says:

Would you just listen to yourselves. Do you have any idea how hard it is to be a politician these days? I mean, between the tweetering and the endless corruption and our problems with functional illiteracy, what can I say?

We are trying our best and while our best is about as good as your worst it’s the only thing you’ve got.

You remember that the next time you go to vote. Ha! You won’t vote because you’ve lost faith in the system and I feel your pain. But I feel my joy way more.

Here. Have a button.

Free Capitalist (profile) says:

Re: Re: Do us a favor

Congress kills the free market.

Agreed. There is no free market with congress setting the ground rules.

To me what we have seems like the twisted progeny of the entrenched mercantilism/statism system from the 19th century. Sure we’ve gone to paper currency and dropped the “fixed” view of mercantilism, but the mechanism seems entirely unchanged over 150 years.

Free market gets a lot of lip service, but unfortunately the term is attributed to a system entirely different from the definition.

John Doe says:

This is exactly why we don't need government run healthcare

We don’t need government run healthcare for two reasons. One it is government run. Two because it isn’t government run, it will be run my the healthcare industry who is already in charge. There are many things that can be done to help the uninsured but a government takeover of the industry should be the last option, not the first step.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: This is exactly why we don't need government run healthcare

I’m going to go one step further, and I hope the politicians will hear this because they will love it.

The government doing anything should be a last option, not the first step.

I don’t know why more politicians don’t follow that rule. They’d get payed to sit around and do a lot less.

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