Obamacare, Crony Capitalism and Big Media
[Posted by Karl]
By sheer coincidence, as our Supreme Court hears arguments on the constitutionality of Obamacare, the Washington Post runs an op-ed by fmr. Sen. Maj. Ldr. Tom Daschle shilling for the legislation and for Pres. Obama. In fact, it runs under the banner “On Leadership.” The bio the WaPo ran for this propaganda states:
Daschle was one of the longest serving Senate Democratic leaders in history, and the only one to have served twice as both majority and minority leader. He was President Obama’s initial nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services, and currently serves as a senior adviser at DLA Piper.
The WaPo fails to mention why he was the initial nominee for HHS Secretary. He withdrew mostly because he failed to pay $128,000 in taxes, primarily for personal use of a car and driver provided to him by a private equity firm for which he consulted. But at the time, even the New York Times noted the lurking backstory:
Mr. Daschle’s financial ties to major players in the health care industry may prove to be even more troublesome as health reform efforts proceed. Like many former power players in Washington, Mr. Daschle cashed in on his political savvy and influence to earn $5 million in recent years, including more than $2 million from Alston & Bird, a law and lobbying firm; more than $2 million from the private equity firm, InterMedia Advisors, which provided the car and driver; and hundreds of thousands of dollars for speeches to interest groups, including those representing health insurance plans, medical equipment distributors and pharmacy boards.
Although Mr. Daschle was not a registered lobbyist, he offered policy advice to the UnitedHealth Group, a huge insurance conglomerate. He was also a trustee of the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, on whose behalf he voiced opposition to a federal loan for a freight rail line near the clinic’s headquarters in Rochester, Minn. The loan was subsequently denied by the Federal Railroad Administration.
Mr. Daschle is another in a long line of politicians who move cozily between government and industry. We don’t know that his industry ties would influence his judgments on health issues, but they could potentially throw a cloud over health care reform.
In typical Beltway fashion, Daschle remained the Democrats’ “go-to guy” in the efforts to seize control over American healthcare. The main thing that changed was Daschle’s clients used to be mostly Big Insurance, while at DLA Piper, they seem to include pharmacies and pharmacos. That, and the likely pay increase over the huge pay boost he got becoming a “not a lobbyist” influence peddler.
This is the sort of thing folks a liberal outlet like the WaPo cared about before Obamacare needed a public defense, e.g., Dan Froomkin. Now the paper fails to disclose Daschle’s seeming financial interest, while Ruth Marcus complains about Obama’s naivete in not hiring more lobbyists from the outset. They all probably hoped for an even more socialistic government healthcare law, but now that Obamacare faces an important legal attack, it is time to circle the wagons for the crony capitalism of the mandate.