Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Public option or no public option? Only the United Healthcare lobbyist knows for sure

by Larry Geller

Who knows what will happen as the circus moves on to the next act, but for the moment, I’m wondering if the “public option,” whatever that is, will ever make it into a healthcare reform bill.

Why the pessimism? Because the fate of the public option depends more on what lobbyists want than on what we, the people, might want.  Too bad we don’t have our own lobbyists. Maybe there are some public interest organizations that do, but if so, they are badly outgunned.

Here’s part of an email from uberlobbyist Steve Elmendorf, posted in an article by David Sirota on Friday, September 11.  For the complete email and article, please click the link.

Subject: event with Speaker Pelosi at my home

You are cordially invited to a reception with

Speaker of the House
Nancy Pelosi

Thursday, September 24, 2009
6:30pm ~ 8:00pm

At the home of
Steve Elmendorf
2301 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Apt. 7B
Washington, D.C.

$5,000 PAC
$2,400 Individual

So guess what:

When "asked if inclusion of a public option was a non-negotiable demand - as her previous statements had indicated  Pelosi ruled out any non-negotiable positions," according to CNN. This was also corroborated by the Associated Press, and by Pelosi's own words, as quoted in those stories.

But check out the gate charge for that event: $5,000 if you’re somebody and $2,400 if you’re just an ordinary schlump.

Hawaii must be a real backwater. Is the best we can do $100 for “Breakfast with Bob?” (see: Bob Herkes: “Lobbyists’ Favorite”).

Now, the real celebrity at the above event is not Pelosi but Elmendorf. He will no doubt outlast her. For continuity, it’s better to hook up with him than with her. No doubt he is a switch hitter, so if healthcare reform should fail and the Dems lose seats in the House, Elmendorf will still be able to hook you up with the next speaker, whoever that is. So it might be a good investment to get close to Elmendorf, if you can afford it.

I wonder if it makes sense to hire lobbyists to lobby Washington lobbyists? This could be a whole new industry, a new facet of American democracy. A way to take back our power.

Remember, you read about it here first.


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