February 25th, 2010
07:00 PM ET

Chances of health care reform with 8 lobbyists for each Congress member?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Lobbyists are one major reason why our government is broken.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/25/art.health.bill.jpg caption="A copy of the Senate's health care reform plan sits between members of Congress as Pres. Obama hosts a bipartisan meeting to discuss health reform legislation."]
And you don't have to look any further than health care reform to see that we have the best government money can buy:

  • Consider this: More than 1,700 companies and organizations hired about 4,500 lobbyists last year to work on health care reform. That translates to eight health care lobbyists for each member of Congress.
  • According to this report by the Center for Public Integrity: The health sector spent more than $540 million on lobbying last year. The health industry has given $45 million dollars in campaign donations for the 2010 election cycle; and it spent more than $200 million on TV ads related to health care reform last year.

You think anyone in Washington hears the voice of the common man? Think again.

The fingerprints of lobbyists are all over this legislation. As one expert put it, "They cut it. they chopped it. they reconstructed it. They didn't bury it. I don't think they wanted to."

Lobbyists apparently succeeded at blocking the public option and softening the effect of cost-cutting measures on health care companies.

The American medical association says it helped kill some fees for doctors and a tax on cosmetic surgery - among other things.

At the end of the day, we're talking about legislation that can be called "reform," while what it really is is a three-card monte game designed to protect all the vested interests in the debate except the taxpayer.

Here’s my question to you: What are the chances of health care reform when there are eight lobbyists for every member of Congress?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Congress • Health care • Lobbyists
September 3rd, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Six lobbyists per lawmaker enough on health care?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Want to know why they're having trouble getting health care reform passed in Washington? Consider this: There are six.... count 'em - six, lobbyists for each of the 535 members of Congress.

This translates to 3,300 lobbyists working on health care - or three times the number who lobby on defense. These groups reportedly spent more than $263 million on lobbying during the first six months of this year - with drug makers alone spending more than $134 million.

One expert tells Bloomberg news: "The sheer quantity of money that's sloshed around Washington is drowning out the voices of citizens and the groups that speak up for them."

And let's talk about that money for a minute. According to The Center for Responsive Politics, health-related companies gave almost $170 million to federal lawmakers in 2007 and 2008.

Max Baucus - chairman of the Senate Finance Committee - got $3 million from the health and insurance industries from 2003 – 2008.

The ranking Republican on that committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley, took in more than $2 million since 2003.

Over in the House - Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel received $1.6 million from the health sector and its employees in the last two years. And ranking Republican Dave Camp received almost $1 million in that time.

And this is just a few of them.

Here’s my question to you: When it comes to health care reform, are six lobbyists for each member of Congress enough?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Congress • Health care • Lobbyists
March 3rd, 2009
01:01 PM ET

How can Pres. Obama defeat the lobbyists?

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Barack Obama is saying "bring it on" to the nation's lobbyists.

How can Pres. Obama defeat the lobbyists?

The President says passing the budget will be difficult because of pushback from special interest groups.

The president vows he will fight to change health care, education and energy policy in dramatic ways, upending the way business is done in Washington.

In his weekly radio address, Mr. Obama pointed out that the current system may work for the "powerful and well-connected interests" but that he works for the American people. The president believes his budget will help millions of Americans - but only if Congress can beat back special interest groups. He says he knows lobbyists are gearing up for a fight and says "My message to them is this: so am I."

Some critics say some of Pres. Obama's proposals are almost radical, but he insists this is what the American people voted for in November. He goes on to say passing the $3.6 trillion dollar budget won't be easy even with Democrats in control of Congress - precisely because of the pushback from special interest groups entrenched in Washington. The president singled out some groups in particular: insurance companies, banks, big student lenders and oil and gas companies.

Republicans have continued to slam the president's spending proposals, saying that almost every day brings another "multi-billion-dollar spending plan being proposed or even worse, passed." Of course the nation didn't elect the Republican candidate for president last November.

Here’s my question to you: How can President Obama defeat the lobbyists?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Lobbyists • President Barack Obama