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Biotech The Almighty Buck Politics

Genentech Puts Words In the Mouths of Congress Members 229

Posted by kdawson
from the finest-lawmakers-money-can-buy dept.
theodp writes "In the official record of the historic House debate on overhauling health care, the speeches of many lawmakers echo with remarkable similarities. Often, that was no accident. Statements by more than a dozen lawmakers were ghostwritten by Washington lobbyists working for Genentech. E-mail obtained by the NY Times shows that lobbyists drafted one statement for Democrats and another for Republicans. Genentech, a subsidiary of Swiss drug giant Roche, estimates that 42 House members picked up some of its talking points — 22 Republicans and 20 Democrats, an unusual bipartisan coup for lobbyists. ... The statements were not intended to change the bill, which was not open for much amendment during the debate. They were meant to show bipartisan support for certain provisions, even though the vote on passage generally followed party lines. ... Asked about the Congressional statements, a lobbyist close to Genentech said: 'This happens all the time. There was nothing nefarious about it.'"
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Genentech Puts Words In the Mouths of Congress Members

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  • All of them!

    • by cjfs (1253208)

      All of them!

      YOU LIE!

      oh... wait...

    • Re:Puppets! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 15, 2009 @06:09PM (#30109390)

      Aye... Genentech wasn't doing *anything* wrong simply by providing information and a point of view. The people to be mad at here are our congressmen... who are apparently so busy "raising funds" and standing in front of things that they don't take the time to actually F'ing LEARN about the topics they legislate on. And apparently, NOR DOES THEIR STAFF anymore. THOSE are the people to be mad as hell at.

      Its bad enough that the voters are often idiots... but the idiocracy keeps creeping deeper into the leadership as well.

      • Re:Puppets! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by youngone (975102) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @06:17PM (#30109440)
        More proof of who the US Government really works for. Here's a clue. If you're not a wealthy corporation, its not you.
        • Re:Puppets! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @06:31PM (#30109582) Journal
          Only if we let them. What about you? Do you pay attention to the issues and vote accordingly? Or are you happy to let them do as they please? If the people don't pay active attention, the politicians will do as they please.
          • Re:Puppets! (Score:4, Interesting)

            by omb (759389) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @07:15PM (#30109948)
            This is dumb meme, to run an honest country you need enforced standards that prevent legislative and executive corruption, a knowledgeable electorate helps, but public servants with their hand in the till still need to goto jail --- which means that you need an independent commission to investigate and prosecute that.

            Otherwise Zimbabwe here you come.
            • Re:Puppets! (Score:5, Insightful)

              by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @07:24PM (#30110008) Journal
              I agree we should try, but you can't prevent legislative and executive corruption any more than you can prevent people from doing drugs. You can declare a war on corruption, you can set heavy penalties, you can make a multitude of laws, but people will still find ways around them.

              It is unfortunate, but the only way to keep the politicians from doing what you don't want them to do is by having an active populace. As someone else mentioned in a different thread, democracy ensures that the people get the government they deserve.
              • by Compholio (770966)

                You can declare a war on corruption, you can set heavy penalties, you can make a multitude of laws, but people will still find ways around them.

                I say we charge them with treason, that way they only need to fail to find a way around the rules once and they can never represent anyone ever again.

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by BlueStrat (756137)

                It is unfortunate, but the only way to keep the politicians from doing what you don't want them to do is by having an active populace.

                A couple thoughts here.

                It has been argued quite well and by people much more knowledgeable than I that corruption increases with the size of government, and that an active and attentive population is needed even with small government, and at increasing levels of citizen attention and effort (as well as taxes) as government size increases, until a tipping point is reached wher

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by hackingbear (988354)
                The only effective way I to pay them enough. Do you know why CEOs of large companies rarely steal from their company directly? They may be incompetent and run the company into the ground, but they don't steal directly because they already get paid millions. The same thing is with politicians, if they don't get enough money from their official wages, most of them will cheat. After all, politician is foremost a job just like programmers or fast food restaurant workers. Serving people is only for advertisement
          • Re:Puppets! (Score:4, Insightful)

            by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Sunday November 15, 2009 @07:56PM (#30110262) Homepage Journal

            Only if we let them

            And exactly what are you going to do about it? Glue teabags on your hat and go scream in peoples' faces? Then line up to vote for more corporate stooges?

            As long as there's so much money flowing from the corporations to elected officials, your opinion isn't going to matter, your vote isn't going to matter, and your job isn't going to matter, your health isn't going to matter and most of all your life isn't going to matter (unless you're a fetus).

            Here's an interesting game: Go compare corporate donations to Congressmen and Senators by party. Then, put them in order by the amount of donations and the industry from which those corporate donations come. Without looking, you can guess what that legislator's vote is going to be on a given piece of legislation 91 times out of a hundred. A group over at NORC at the University of Chicago did exactly that, and that's the number they came up with.

            One more thing: despite what you hear on cable TV and AM radio, environmentalist groups don't really give as much money to elected officials as the oil companies.

            • It is illegal for any corporation, nonprofit, or union to give money to a politician. Only individuals can give money to politicians. When giving above a certain amount, you must list your employer. It is then possible to create reports that aggregate those numbers by employer, but the money is actually all from individuals.

              It is possible to overstate the impact of money in politics. There is a clear money imbalance on the issue of drilling in ANWR for instance (way more on the side of drilling, as you poin

          • by cob666 (656740)
            Mod Parent UP. I find that it's pretty easy to send an email or even a real letter to my congress person or representative that expresses my concerns and lets them know how I will vote. More people should let their elected representatives know how they feel.
            It doesn't matter how much lobbying power or fund raising dollars a politician has behind them if they don't have enough people voting for them.
      • by F34nor (321515)

        kakistocracy - ( )
                    Rulership by the worst leader

      • Re:Puppets! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @06:51PM (#30109734) Homepage
        It shouldn't be surprising that people who aren't educated and aren't very bright aren't very good at electing people who are bright or educated. Democracy ensures that the public gets a government no better than they deserve.
        • Re:Puppets! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Narpak (961733) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @10:06PM (#30111100)
          George Carlin [youtube.com]: "Garbage in; garbage out. If you got selfish ignorant citizens you are going to get selfish ignorant leaders."

          Sadly there seems to be a lot of that going around in most democracies.
        • Is it me or does there seem to be a concerted attack on the very idea of democracy these days? As if there is some assumption that only bright educated people can govern? And that only the Council of Alphas is fit to rule? It's bright educated people who come up with things like National Socialism and Marxism that cause the deaths of millions. But hey, as long as it's the dumb uneducated people who are getting killed, who cares really?
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Is it me or does there seem to be a concerted attack on the very idea of democracy these days? As if there is some assumption that only bright educated people can govern?

            If you really think about it, the U.S. Constitution (and a lot of other countries' constitutions) are clearly written as though that assumption were obviously true. Otherwise, why have (for one example) an electoral college?

            So if by 'these days' you mean 'for the last several hundred or more years', sure.

      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        The people to be mad at here are our congressmen... who are apparently so busy "raising funds" and standing in front of things that they don't take the time to actually F'ing LEARN about the topics they legislate on. And apparently, NOR DOES THEIR STAFF anymore. THOSE are the people to be mad as hell at.

        While both non-partisan think tanks and companies like Genentech produce opinion/policy papers, the difference is that Genetech will spend money on lobbyists to get their opinions into Congressional hands.
        Lobbyists will shill whatever position they are paid for, and the free market figured out the cost:benefit ratio for influencing legislation invariably brings them out ahead.

        Lobbying reform is more than just a buzzword. It strives to remove corrupting influences from the legislative process.

      • Re:Puppets! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Sunday November 15, 2009 @07:47PM (#30110172) Homepage Journal

        Genentech wasn't doing *anything* wrong

        Of course not. They were simply trying to increase productivity. After all, why should congressional staffers have to write speeches for their congressmen if Genentech lobbyists are already going to have written them? This way, instead of 435 speechwriters for members of the House of Representatives having to write speeches, you have one Genentech lobbyist write two speeches (one for each party). Look at the savings in manpower! I mean, we all know that in this difficult economy, we have to do more with less, right?

        The next step is to lay off all the congresspeople and just have corporate lobbyists write the laws directly. Since they're already footing the bill for all the congressmen to get elected, it would save even more money and manpower. Plus, it would eliminate the need to put on these meaningless elections.

        Genentech wasn't doing anything "wrong". The "wrong" part comes when we allow a single corporate dollar in politics. Our wise leaders, encouraged by lobbyists, have decided to ignore both the wording and the original intent of the framers, and have decided that a corporation has the same rights as an individual, yet they have none of the civic responsibility. Plus, (and this one's the kicker) they've decided that Money = Speech. What a racket!. The Supreme Court is deciding right now whether or not to remove absolutely all restrictions on corporate money in the political system. I guess the best we can hope for is that Antonin Scalia chokes on an uncooked tortellini before the final vote comes down.

      • Re:Puppets! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by hey! (33014) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @07:58PM (#30110284) Homepage Journal

        Oh, Genentech was doing something morally wrong. Contributing to the delinquency of others is morally wrong. It's just not as bad as what their sock puppets are doing.

      • who are apparently so busy "raising funds"

        The sad part is, that actually is a good deal of what they do. Whenever they get a break out of session, they truck back to the home state to try and get donations for the next election. Its a fundamentally broken part of our system, and why we need some real campaign finance reform. The only way to get elected is to get those funds, anyone who doesn't get them gets replaced by someone who can by the voters.

    • Yuh huh... (Score:4, Funny)

      by Colin Smith (2679) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @06:17PM (#30109438)

      Which is of course why you want more, bigger government who do everything for you. Because then there will be fewer puppets and more nice fuzzy people who have nothing but your best interests at heart.

      I swear, I'm either going to have to buy a farm somewhere and retire, far away from people, or buy a rifle and start taking random pot shots. Which is cheaper?

       

      • by chris mazuc (8017)

        The rifle. Cuz' big bad government would come and put you up for the rest of your life ;P

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Do the rifle and the potshots, and please go for the big time and do it inside the capitol building. So many good shooters go to waste gunning down lame stuff like universities and shopping malls and army bases.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          You'd be wiser to go after the power-grabbing bureaucrats

          - like the FCC Chairman who I just learned is dicussing turning-off TV broadcasts and turning-over channels 2-51 to cellphone usage. That of course would force me to upgrade from free television to $20 Comcast lifeline service. Joy. Also the RIAA chairman, the MPAA chairman, and so on.

          The Congresscritters are mainly just puppets. The real power lies in front of them (corporate lobbyists) and behind them (bureaucrats).

          • That of course would force me to upgrade from free television to $20 Comcast lifeline service.

            Or, alternatively, it might force you to upgrade to becoming someone who actively seeks out information rather than someone who waits to be told what to enjoy, what to dislike, and what to feel.

            Nah, sod it. Better just pay the $20 -- being a passive consumer is _much_ more comfortable...

        • by hairyfeet (841228)
          Bah! Wasting perfectly good bullets on the puppets you are. Better to go for the money lenders, they are the real power elite. Goldman Sachs FTW!
    • You got that right! (Score:3, Informative)

      by NoYob (1630681)

      In an interview, Representative Bill Pascrell Jr., Democrat of New Jersey, said: “I regret that the language was the same. I did not know it was.” He said he got his statement from his staff and “did not know where they got the information from.”

      So, this guy gets paid at least $174,000 per year [about.com] plus all those awesome perks and retirement plans that none of us peons could ever get, and he can't do his own homework?!

      What does this guy do all day?

    • I'm still trying to figure out where they stick their hand to make the mouth move.

  • a != b (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tantalus (466821) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @06:00PM (#30109292) Homepage

    If something happens all the time, it does not mean there is nothing nefarious about it. Quite the contrary.

  • Yay lobbyist-speak (Score:5, Insightful)

    by howlingfrog (211151) <ajmkenyon2002.yahoo@com> on Sunday November 15, 2009 @06:02PM (#30109312) Homepage Journal

    "This happens all the time" != "There was nothing nefarious about it."

    The entire point of republican democracy, as opposed to direct democracy, is that making representation a full-time job allows our representatives to put the time and effort into being informed about the issues. It scares and angers me that they try to accomplish that by listening to lobbyists.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Daimanta (1140543)

      "The entire point of republican democracy, as opposed to direct democracy, is that making representation a full-time job allows our representatives to put the time and effort into being informed about the issues."

      It's called a representative democracy, not a republican democracy. I know many monarchies who have a representative democratic system.

      • From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:
        "In this sense it refers to the notion representative democracy, as one meaning of republic is a system of restricted democracy."

        To be a successful details-nazi, first check that you in fact have the details correct.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          The answer can be found be answering this simple question - What reigns supreme?

          The Majority (51%), or the Law? The answer is the Law - specifically the Constitutions (both U.S. and Stste level). Therefore it's a Republic, not a democracy. The fact we choose our lawmakers by vote does not change the fact the Law still reigns supreme above all (even the government itself).

    • by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @06:27PM (#30109552) Journal
      I used to get really upset about lobbyists, but I think the problem is really the general incompetence of our elected officials. They have trouble distinguishing between good information and bad information, and end up going with the most convenient information (although in their minds they will have some logic loop that proves to them that they chose the good information).

      The problem is a good portion of the US has trouble figuring out how to distinguish good information from bad information. Think of how many people pay $50 a bottle to drink acai juice thinking it will help them lose weight. Think how many people buy lottery tickets. These are people who are just out of touch with reality.

      Strangely it has nothing to do with education levels, either. You wouldn't believe how many educated people I talked to were certain that president Bush would call martial law and cancel the election before Obama could be voted in (thus becoming emperor). You may have been one of them. As crazy as that seems, the fact is, knowing how to distinguish good information from bad information is really hard and takes a lot of experience. You can't take the easy shortcut and only rely on peer-reviewed papers because a lot of reality hasn't been peer reviewed yet (and peer-review in no way shows that something is true).

      It is no surprise that a population that can't distinguish between reality and fantasy elects representatives that can't distinguish between reality and fantasy as well. The solution is to educate the populace, and it is improving: pay attention to the memes that get spread around; by now everyone on the internet knows that "correlation != causation" and many have a more nuanced understanding of that idea. Five years ago, that thought wasn't so widespread. Same with the "[Citation Needed]" trend: as annoying as it was, it spread the idea that citations are a good thing.

      If this trend continues, the problem will be self-correcting. Representatives will understand that lobbyists are biased and will go look for other sources of information. Unfortunately there is no other way to solve the problem: there is no amount of legislation that can fix it.
      • by NoYob (1630681) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @06:49PM (#30109714)
        I only see one problem with your argument: you assume the representatives give a shit.

        From what I see, the elected officials are pretty comfortable with the way things are.

        • Fortunately we have a constitutionally enshrined way to deal with that situation. If, on the other hand, the populace doesn't give a shit, then you are correct, there is no way to fix the problem.
      • by Lloyd_Bryant (73136) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @06:56PM (#30109778)

        I used to get really upset about lobbyists, but I think the problem is really the general incompetence of our elected officials.

        Actually they are very competent. At getting elected/re-elected. Which is the primary selection criteria in a democratic system.

      • by omb (759389)
        Read the story about how you got rid of Nixon.

        Basically the ethicality of the Judges of SC and the Joint Chiefs, politicised as thing have become you must think Bush thought of it, but was told the Military would not obey. This is the real fourth arm of government, not the press, and works in other places eg the UK, USSR and France, but not everywhere eg Germany in World War II.

        The real question is how long this will last. You do need the "Right to bear Arms".
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by phantomfive (622387)

          politicised as thing have become you must think Bush thought of it, but was told the Military would not obey

          So you are explicitly saying that Bush wanted to militarily take over the country? You have absolutely no evidence for this, and present none other than "things have become politicized." In four years things are still going to be politicized; will you be afraid then that the president will try to take over the country militarily?

          Conspiracy theories such as these are popular among those who have a better idea of how Hollywood works than how reality works. You believe an idea for which there is no eviden

      • by lawpoop (604919) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @10:05PM (#30111092) Homepage Journal

        You wouldn't believe how many educated people I talked to were certain that president Bush would call martial law and cancel the election before Obama could be voted in (thus becoming emperor). You may have been one of them.

        I guess you can call me "one of them". Although, I never thought it was a certainty, just a possibility.

        During the congressional debates on the bank bailout bill, Representative Brad Sherman related that members of congress were told that martial law would be declared if the bailout bill was not passed. [youtube.com] The damage-control story after Rep. Sherman's revelation was that "martial law" was a metaphorical phrase amongst congresspeople meaning that the House leadership would ram through legislation in spite of the concerns of the larger body. Problem is, the phrase has never been used to mean that.

        Or at least, I have never encountered a historically documented use of that phrase. Maybe you know of one?

        After Bush got out of office, we find out that the Bush administration wanted to use the military to arrest terror suspects inside of the United States. [huffingtonpost.com]So yeah, it seemed like a real possibility, and after the fact, we find out that they were up to shenanigans like this. I don't think the people who suspected this were so paranoid.

        The problem is a good portion of the US has trouble figuring out how to distinguish good information from bad information.

        I suppose you have a universally valid method for doing so?

    • Doing this should be cause for banning the member Aids for two years, let him do some WORK.

      You Americans are getting just the corrupt lying conniving government you claim to object to in the third world,
      and nothing seems to change it. You need to get rid of PACs and Soft money and have rigid two term limits.

      The sense of entitlemeent from these guys is worse the the Wall St CEO.
      • A great deal of us would agree with you, but our supreme court considers money a part of freedom of speech.

    • by westlake (615356)

      The entire point of republican democracy, as opposed to direct democracy, is that making representation a full-time job allows our representatives to put the time and effort into being informed about the issues. It scares and angers me that they try to accomplish that by listening to lobbyists.

      Why?

      If you belong to a professional or trade association of any sort, you are paying for your own lobbyists.

      The same for any charity or affinity group you support. The hospice. Your alumni association. The EFF. The

  • Insofar as there is nothing nefarious about lobbying period.
    • by nomadic (141991)
      Insofar as there is nothing nefarious about lobbying period.

      The right to lobby is in the Constitution.
  • But thet was not Roche, right?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Obama has excempted trade unions from registering as lobbyists, in spite of seeking to do excatly the same things as companies do - fighting for their interests.

    The same goes for ideological organisations.

    Why are companies banned from lobbying, while others with an agenda are not?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by phantomfive (622387)
      Obama is in the pocket of big labor. They paid a LOT of money to democrat campaigns to get things like card check passed.

      In the case of Obama, I think he favors unions because he actually agrees with them and believes that they help the little guy. That's why he's willing to give them exceptions, but maybe I am being too optimistic.

      Another confusing point is the lawyer lobby: does Obama favor their agenda because they paid him money, or did they pay him money because he is a lawyer and favors their agen
    • by omb (759389)
      Because the Corporations corrupt the Democratic process with hidden bribary, which is illegal but poorly enforced.
  • This happens all the time. There was nothing nefarious about it

    Right on the first point, wrong on the second.

    -jcr

  • It is unusual for it to be documented so quickly with respect to an issue that has the level of interest and emotional involvement as does health care reform. Instances of the financial benefactors of Congresscritters getting their sentiments reflected more or less verbatim in the Congressional Record are not novel.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 15, 2009 @06:27PM (#30109548)

    Shouldn't this headline actually read, "42 House members plagiarize report by Genetech". Isn't the reality that these politicians had no opinions, or at least lacked the will to find and articulate one, and instead opted to copy someone else. Not that it makes the whole situation any less shameful.

  • Problem: Lobbyists exert a disproportional amount of influence in the legislative branch of government.
    Solution: Tax lobbyists.
    Problem: The Supreme Court see the 14th amendment as giving human rights to property and also see money as a form of speech so we can't touch them.
    Solution: New constitutional amendment. "Money is not a form of speech."

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lloyd_Bryant (73136)

      Problem: Lobbyists exert a disproportional amount of influence in the legislative branch of government.
      Solution: Tax lobbyists.
      Problem: The Supreme Court see the 14th amendment as giving human rights to property and also see money as a form of speech so we can't touch them.
      Solution: New constitutional amendment. "Money is not a form of speech."

      Bad idea. If only because it would restrict organizations like the ACLU, EFF, etc.

      Better idea - "To be eligible to donate funds to the election campaign of a person running for federal office, the donator must be a human individual, not a corporation, and must live within the district of the person to whom he is donating the funds".

      This would block corporate bribery^H^H^H^H^H^H^H donations entirely, and while a rich individual could still have a larger-than-normal effect on an election, it would be restric

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jcr (53032)

        Better idea than your better idea: reduce the government to the powers delegated to it by the constitution. Right now, we're operating on the Willie Sutton principle.

        -jcr

        • Good idea to go along with your idea: Remove the arbitrary limit on the number of total representatives in the House. Instead, tie it to population (e.g., 1 rep per 50,000 citizens, or something like that). Reps will actually represent their much smaller constituencies, and the ability of "money" to influence voting will be greatly diminished.
      • by omb (759389)
        It will if the pressure gets strong enough, the jaded attitude is more than half of the problem,

        you have all become lazy defeatists, learn from the Poles, East Germans, Hungarians ... who all had it much worse than you lot do
      • by Shillo (64681)

        Better idea - "To be eligible to donate funds to the election campaign of a person running for federal office, the donator must be a human individual, not a corporation, and must live within the district of the person to whom he is donating the funds."

        Won't work. Think 'donation mediation service professional'.

      • The problem here is with the very definition of what a corporation is. Corporations are simply companies owned by a great many human individuals. If legislation as you propose is enacted, we'll simply begin to see Steve Jobs making donations on Apple's behalf.*

        What about privately owned companies? There are some huge companies that wouldn't be classified as corporations -- the largest have revenues over $100bn annually. Some of these companies regularly contract for the government (Bechtel) while others

        • The problem here is with the very definition of what a corporation is.

          A corporation is an "artificial person", created by a government-granted charter.

          If legislation as you propose is enacted, we'll simply begin to see Steve Jobs making donations on Apple's behalf.

          That's perfectly fine. In the district in which Steve happens to live. My proposal would restrict him from influencing elections elsewhere.

          What about privately owned companies? There are some huge companies that wouldn't be classified as corporations -- the largest have revenues over $100bn annually. Some of these companies regularly contract for the government (Bechtel) while others receive considerable subsidies (GMAC, Chrysler, HCA).

          Those are all, AFAIK, chartered corporations. The rule would restrict them. The fact that the stock in a corporation is privately held (as opposed to publicly traded) does not make it less of a corporation.

          Also consider that corporations are aggregate representations of their employees and shareholders, which are (in theory) regular, average citizens.

          Er, no. The corporation may be considered a representative of the shareholders, b

      • Better idea - "To be eligible to donate funds to the election campaign of a person running for federal office, the donator must be a human individual, not a corporation, and must live within the district of the person to whom he is donating the funds".

        It won't help. Any rule you can think of, I can think of a way to get around it. To get around your proposed rule, I will avoid paying my donations to the candidate directly, and merely pay for advertisements against his opponent.

        The only way is for the populace to be active and paying attention to what their politicians are doing. Nothing else will work.

    • I agree with your general sentiments. But what are you going to say when people respond this way?

      "A NEW TAX on lobbyists? Why are liberals in favor of new taxes on free speech all the time?"

      Maybe you can label your lobbyist tax as a fine on irresponsible free speech which has more political currency.

      First of all, taxes are levied on everyone (including us), but fines are levied on people breaking the law, and we hate people who break the law because they're criminals. The element of criminality make
  • by amiga3D (567632) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @06:32PM (#30109588)
    As can be seen we really only have one party in Washington. The money party. It's a smoke and mirrors thing. They use ideology to divide and confuse the public while they take our money. It's been working well for them. I sometimes think no one in Washington D.C. believes in anything.....I hope I'm wrong...but I don't think so.
    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      There are some people, some of them in Congress even, that don't belong to the money party. The problem is that they are usually ignored and/or ridiculed. And by ridiculed, I mean getting questions about UFOs [youtube.com] rather than health care plans.

  • End the pretense (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SuperKendall (25149) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @06:35PM (#30109610)

    I think it's time we end the pretense these people are doing anything independently, and let them wear jackets with sponsor patches ala Nascar.

    I guess this is why congress and house members feel it's OK to vote for a 1900+ page bill they have not even read all of, nor allowed the public to read before a vote - why bother reading when your corporate sponsors have given you all the soundbytes you need?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Jay Clay (971209)

      While I agree that lobbyists wield way too much power in government, the 1900 page complaint is more of a talking point than anything else. The bill and the wording behind it has been available for months via drafts and discussion within committees.

      • The bill and the wording behind it has been available for months via drafts and discussion within committees.

        Versions of it but NOT the final bill. In fact even what the house votes on really means nothing, because if it passes the senate everyone gets to change things around again.

        Outside the transparency, I have a fundamental problem though, with the size alone - regardless of content. here's no way anyone can comprehend the impact of a bill with 1900 pages of regulations and changes to regulations. Th

    • let them wear jackets with sponsor patches ala Nascar

      Let them? How about require them to!

      That's actually a very insightful approach to data visualisation of campaign contributions. If prominence and size of a contributor's logo was tied to the amount of money they'd contributed in the same way as it is for sports teams & racing, voters would be able to intuitively figure out the major influences on the politician, by analogy with their familiarity with the world of professional sports.

      Realistically, it'll never happen, because politicians want to be seen

  • America has the best government money can buy.

    Obama was voted in to open up our government. He stated bills would exclude pork riders, bills with company backing would include a list of the companies making money off the bill, bills would sit on his desk for 5 days. His long list to open the government up was just election lies.

    He is pushing this health care bill through with mandates, people are forced to buy insurance and a public option hardly anybody can qualify for. There are countries that have univ

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 15, 2009 @06:53PM (#30109746)

    Its like the politicians had a big giant hand (not so invisible) in the middle of their back, replacing their backbone. Their left hand is suddenly controlled by a giant thumb, and their right hand is suddenly controlled by a giant little finger. Their mouths move up and down, not quite in sync with the words coming from somewhere. Inside, the politician is thinking: All I have to do is say these words and I will make more than 400 times the street prostitute down the block. No sticky mess or anything. Cool! Those lobby people sure do pay a lot more than that official 'government' salary too. I wonder how much they would pay me if I offered to bend over and touch my toes.... oh wait, I already did.

  • by tloh (451585) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @07:24PM (#30110010)

    I wonder, is the outrage due to the fact that Genentech's lobbying efforts were successful or that it was somehow "wrong"?

    According to the article, some of the points being talked about:

    "the U.S. biotechnology industry .... is a homegrown success story that has been an engine of job creation in this country."

    "the company’s arguments about the need to keep research jobs in the United States."

    "the bill’s potential to create jobs in health care, health information technology and clinical research on new drugs. "

    "a provision that would give the Food and Drug Administration the authority to approve generic versions of expensive biotechnology drugs, along the lines favored by brand-name companies like Genentech."

    Are these ideas inherently partisan in any way at all? Perhaps the reason so many congressional members swayed to the effort was that the points being disseminated were honest, compelling, and served the interests of the American people they work for. Come on guys, we're all information junkies here at slashdot and it should be a no brainer that ideas sometimes spread and catch on not because they are well publicized, but because they happen to be good ideas. If you want to complain about the lack of originality in your government officials to express good ideas, fine. But don't make it about the inherent tendency for ideas to spread and take hold based on multiple factors - including merit. If the lobbying efforts had engaged in excessive spin or deception, let the well informed among us call them on it. Otherwise, please judge it for what it's worth. The truth shall set you free.

  • There's "nothing nefarious about it"?? Since when do Swiss-owned corporations write statements for American congresscritters?

    "Nothing nefarious" my cute little butt.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @07:58PM (#30110280) Homepage

    Rape happens all the time. Murder happens all the time. Fraud, waste and abuse happens all the time. Politicians demonstrating behavior of being bought and paid for by big money interests happens all the time. None of these things are good and all of them should be brought under control.

    One of the biggest problems of corruption today is that people think it's acceptable.

  • Yes We Can (Score:4, Interesting)

    by merky1 (83978) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @08:10PM (#30110394) Journal

    Remember the good ole days, when there was a charismatic candidate that promised a new Washington, one that represents the people and not littered with lobbyists.

    I guess GW really messed the country up...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kamokazi (1080091)
      Haha...it was messed up long before GW. In the grand scheme of things, he didn't really make the current situation much worse than it is. People give the president too much credit for being able to screw things up.
  • by DynaSoar (714234) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @09:23PM (#30110864) Journal

    Providing a sales brochure with sales points tailored to a couple of different potential customer groups is perfectly normal. It is fervently hoped that they, having tried the drug, will sing its praises. The provided talking points may or may not get used, but if they do it'll sound like they've been reading the same sales brochure -- they have. There is nothing unusual or unethical about providing sales and marketing information openly. Not even if, say the brochure provides information on a drug intended for users who take it to (1) control high blood pressure, or (2) grow hair in spots losing hair due to male pattern baldness. The same drug does both.

    Politicians are likely to talk about the drug and related laws and regulations, and the marketoids hope very much they'll read the brochures and use the provided talking points. If they use their own, albeit perfectly aligned with one of the major party platform planks regarding it, the points get made, but haphazardly. Those not provided with the brochure will only have others to listen to. It is no less illegal or unethical to provide congresscritters with sales brochures so they can talk about it without having to write their own material. Two versions might be produced, say (1) for those who want oversight regulations to be relaxed vs (2) those who want to have greater specific oversight over certain drugs regardless of their position on oversight on the FDA in general. Providing both is no more problematic than providing one or the other.

    Now, the article summary's title as presented here on /., it implies some sort of wrong doing, despite the fact that the material out there which educates people about its uses and possible problems. Even though some of the other summarizes repeat a known issue with voting lobbyists, it is only incorrect, not attempting to manipulate anyone's opinions other than letting them spout off random concepts, as the title seems intended to accuse the lobbyists of doing. The situation is intended that one should more comply than have to drive around forever, using an old tow truck and 20 year old trailer. It is not likely you would have heard the provided material before haring congress talking about it. It happens to make use of the same 'word-of-mouth' advertising proven to work so well with the population. This is neither illegal nor unethical.

    Now, for an article's summary to include a statement to be used as a title, that implies that a/the main character is in danger, this is all perfectly normal MPAA activity. It also suggests that should one or another congresscritter use the talking points, they'll be in error . If the brochure were intended to hasten the break up to find some relief then it was meddling, which is unethical. But it doesn't, it just provides likely word-of-mouth phrases so that everybody is talking on the same boat.

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