Monday, October 30, 2006

Medicare made sleazy

Though there had never been any direct discussion of who was involved in pushing it through Congress, surprise won't likely present itself in most people's minds when they learn that Jack Abramoff and his network of influence peddlars were glommed all over the Medicare Perscription bill. Barbara Dreyfuss delivers a detailed account of how the biggest expansion of Medicare in 40 years was humped by Abramoff and his various "non-profit" organisations at the behest of Big Pharma; an astounding reticulum of lobbyists, players, cronies, congressional Republican hacks, drug industry pushers, and astro-turfing front organisations.
It’s well known that in his crusade to pass the bill, DeLay drew on more than 800 pharmaceutical-industry lobbyists, millions of dollars in campaign contributions, and the efforts of numerous business and healthcare groups. But this grossly flawed legislation could never have passed without the help of the same players who were central to Abramoff’s lobbying operation: Tony Rudy and Ed Buckham. Using a nest of nonprofits flush with corporate cash, the discredited lobbyists played a vital, albeit hidden, role in whittling down congressional opposition to the bill for more than a year before the final vote. In particular, Alexander Strategy made use of three senior nonprofit groups—the United Seniors Association, the Seniors Coalition and 60 Plus—and a Christian evangelical group, America 21, which were all funded heavily by the pharmaceutical industry. This is the story of how this shadowy network helped saddle the American public with the Medicare drug bill—the biggest, most important piece of policy in which the dubious talents of Abramoff’s acolytes were brought to bear.
If you can stomach the tale, check it out.


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