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Genentech Puts Words In the Mouths of Congress Members

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the finest-lawmakers-money-can-buy dept.

Biotech 229

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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NYT Paylwall link? (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109250)

Did we all not already have enough links to that screen?

Re:NYT Paylwall link? (1)

asaz989 (901134) | more than 4 years ago | (#30110456)

It's not a paywall, just a user registration wall.

Puppets! (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109262)

All of them!

Re:Puppets! (1)

cjfs (1253208) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109386)

All of them!

YOU LIE!

oh... wait...

Re:Puppets! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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! (4, Insightful)

youngone (975102) | more than 4 years ago | (#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! (4, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109582)

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! (3, Interesting)

omb (759389) | more than 4 years ago | (#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! (4, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30110008)

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.

Re:Puppets! (1)

Compholio (770966) | more than 4 years ago | (#30110504)

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:Puppets! (3, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30110262)

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.

Re:Puppets! (1)

cob666 (656740) | more than 4 years ago | (#30110432)

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.

Re:Puppets! (1)

F34nor (321515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109644)

kakistocracy - ( )
            Rulership by the worst leader

Re:Puppets! (5, Insightful)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109734)

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! (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109780)

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! (4, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30110172)

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! (4, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | more than 4 years ago | (#30110284)

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.

Yuh huh... (3, Funny)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 4 years ago | (#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?

 

Re:Yuh huh... (1)

chris mazuc (8017) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109876)

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

Re:Yuh huh... (2, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109928)

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:Yuh huh... (2, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109990)

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).

Re:Yuh huh... (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#30110134)

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! (3, Informative)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109806)

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?

Re:You got that right! (4, Insightful)

michaelhood (667393) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109968)

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?

Work for a win in the next congressional election.

Re:Puppets! (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 4 years ago | (#30110380)

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

a != b (4, Insightful)

tantalus (466821) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109292)

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

Re:a != b (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30109904)

Well, the US democracy (and the state) is built on companies and lobbyism. Other countries pay their congressmen more than the usual person earns, but forbid them to have another income at the same time, to ensure independence.

The US on the other hand thinks that if companies do well and their wishes get fulfilled, the economy and the people will be benefit as well. The system breaks down as soon as people think about if working and shopping is enough for their life or whether they have real goals in life.

Re:a != b ....as in: (1)

WheelDweller (108946) | more than 4 years ago | (#30110122)

Murders happen all the time. They've even been outlawed: still happen: nefarious.

Baby ducks are born all the time: no laws about it: still happens: non-nefarious.

What's fun, though, is how, in the midst of "a Republican-caused hurricane Katrina" that a Democrat pulling National Guardsmen to help him save his $90,000 in cash DOES NOT happen all the time [sometimes it's worse!] and that's nefarious.

So nefarious, after all these years, and not getting re-elected, he finally goes to jail!

Yay lobbyist-speak (5, Insightful)

howlingfrog (211151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109312)

"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:Yay lobbyist-speak (2, Informative)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109332)

"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.

Re:Yay lobbyist-speak (1)

howlingfrog (211151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109480)

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:Yay lobbyist-speak (2, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#30110020)

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).

Re:Yay lobbyist-speak (2, Funny)

darth dickinson (169021) | more than 4 years ago | (#30110156)

The fact we choose our lawmakers by vote does not change the fact the Law still reigns supreme above all (even the government itself).

You must be new here.

Re:Yay lobbyist-speak (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30109382)

This is distinguished from the similarly-named but different "Republican democracy", where anything the Republicans want is good and anyone who disagrees is a fascist-socialist-nazi-communist-traitor. In capital-R Republican democracy, informed representatives are not required, as Jeebus himself tells the party leaders what to vote for.

Re:Yay lobbyist-speak (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#30110064)

Anon. Coward wrote:
"Republican democracy", where anything the Republicans want is good and anyone who disagrees is a fascist-socialist-nazi-communist-traitor.

Ha. And now that we have a Democratic democracy, I get to be told I'm a redneck "who clings to his guns and his religion" (Obama) or else a racist (Carter, MSNBC, and many other people). I find that amusing considering my neck is not red, my collar is white, my college education is triple-degreed, and my two closest friends are Chinese and Hispanic. By gum, they're right! I am a racist, gun-clinging, religious nut! (rolls eyes)

ACTUALLY I THINK JUDGE NAPOLITANO WAS CORRECT: "We don't have two parties. We have ONE party - the Big Government party - with two branches, each trying to gather more power to themselves, and less freedom for us."

Re:Yay lobbyist-speak (4, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109552)

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.

Re:Yay lobbyist-speak (5, Insightful)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Yay lobbyist-speak (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109812)

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.

Re:Yay lobbyist-speak (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30109720)

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.

Your conclusion presumes that they care. (or that they ever did...)

Their attitude may well be one of "I've been elected. Citations are no longer needed, because what I say is the citation, at least to the idiots that voted for me. Call the lobbyist for the firm that I really represent and let 'em know I'm open for business."

Re:Yay lobbyist-speak (3, Insightful)

Lloyd_Bryant (73136) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Nixon (1)

omb (759389) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109832)

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:Nixon (2, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109918)

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 evidence, you present no evidence, and yet you still believe it. This is called FAITH. Now, I think you are probably well educated, so this is a good example of how easy it is to fall into a trap when you start basing your views on assumptions and not on evidence. Science calls for evidence in everything. Lets get back to science.

Re:Nixon (0, Troll)

omb (759389) | more than 4 years ago | (#30110282)

No, it is always almost impossible to gather detailed, timely inside evidence about the innermost workings of any Affair of State, but years later the truth tends to out; so I am amazed (maybe not) at your factual ignorance ... as General Haigh, Nixon's Chief of Staff, made sure that what happened was leaked ... pour discouage un autre.

If Nixon could have got away with it ... he would have, he was much more immoral that Bush. So, with respect STFU.

Re:Nixon (2, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30110550)

OK, let me get this straight......you are implying that because Nixon did something, Bush therefore wanted to do something. And you expect this to be considered in any way logical? If you have some evidence that shows Bush wanted to take over America militarily, please show it. Otherwise you are just being naive, and are out of touch with reality.

Let me guess, this is your logic: Nixon was immoral, Bush was immoral. Nixon wanted to do something, so therefore Bush must have wanted to do it also. That's not how logic works, man. Sorry.

Re:Yay lobbyist-speak (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30110126)

"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 you truly believe that "everyone on the internet" knows (not even subscribes) to these memes that you have seen on the rise in your circles and that they are evidence of a trend that will counter an ill-informed government and populace then I question your ability to discern good information from bad.

But, heck, I questioned that the moment that you implied the problem was one of inability and not desire.

Dont blame Libbyst but The Congrescritters (1)

omb (759389) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109758)

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.

Re:Yay lobbyist-speak (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#30110402)

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 NRA.

There is stength in numbers.

The lobby can collect information. It can underwrite research.

It can recruit speakers whose credentials are impeccable and who are able and effective advocates in any public forum.

It can help build the alliances - the coalitions - that a politician needs to forge to get his legislation passed.

The geek in New Hampshire can't do much more about the Congress than post his rants to a blog.

The lobbyist can deliver votes in Florida, New York and California.

"nothing nefarious about it" (1)

nathan.fulton (1160807) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109316)

Insofar as there is nothing nefarious about lobbying period.

Re:"nothing nefarious about it" (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109626)

Insofar as there is nothing nefarious about lobbying period.

The right to lobby is in the Constitution.

Hahahahahaha! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30109328)

Funny stuff. Makes me laugh when I think about all those Americans who are so blind to the single-party system they unknowingly live under, and worse, actively participate in.

You Americans have one set of rulers: the majority shareholders of the largest corporations in the country. They call the shots. The government is there for show. For shits and giggles, if you will.

Re:Hahahahahaha! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30109370)

So it would seem.....

Re:Hahahahahaha! (1)

freshfromthevat (135461) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109462)

You Americans have one set of rulers: the majority shareholders of the largest corporations in the country. They call the shots. The government is there for show. For shits and giggles, if you will.

So how do I buy into this one of these largest of corporations?

Oh wait. You are just an AC being stupid.

Re:Hahahahahaha! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30109570)

Yo, faggot, of course you can theoretically buy some shares in many of these major corporations. Go talk to a stockbroker who can arrange it.

But there are a few things to keep in mind:

1) You'll typically need to buy these shares in bundles of 5000 or more. Depending on the stock involved, you can be looking into paying $25000 to $250000 per bundle. That's well outside what most Americans can afford, especially given that they likely won't receive dividends, and if they do, it's often on the order of a few cents per share.

2) Even if you can afford to buy millions of shares, you'll usually never be able to buy enough to have any real say in the operations of the corporation, let alone any degree of control.

3) Some corporations aren't public, or have very restrictive rules in place regarding the transfer of shares. So you may not even be able to buy in in the first place.

You'll probably think that mutual funds are the answer to these problems, but in reality they aren't. You still won't directly own any shares in the corporations that control you, you'll still never own enough to have any appreciable control of your own, and even in the long term you likely won't make anything beyond a token return on your holdings.

Re:Hahahahahaha! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30109728)

AC speaks the truth.

Re:Hahahahahaha! (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109664)

So how do I buy into this one of these largest of corporations?

If you're in a pension plan you're already in. I know it's fashionable here to envision this shadowy cabal of rich people calling the shots, but the most powerful shareholders in a lot of very large companies are pension funds, held by the little guy.

Re:Hahahahahaha! (2, Insightful)

Shillo (64681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30110018)

The shots are called by corporate execs, and rubber-stamped by pension funds execs.

So, your point is?

Re:Hahahahahaha! (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109868)

So how do I buy into this one of these largest of corporations?

Perhaps the government will have the treasury print the money for you... oh.. wait.. they are too busy printing money for the largest corporations.

Everyone remebers "Die Quickly" line (1)

should_be_linear (779431) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109344)

But thet was not Roche, right?

Why can ideologists and unions lobby? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30109346)

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:Why can ideologists and unions lobby? (2, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109618)

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 agenda? It might be a little of both.

Re:Why can ideologists and unions lobby? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30110246)

You reveal your biases by using the word "democrat" instead of "Democratic". Describing the party as the "Democrat" party was an effort begun by Karl Rove to diminish the Democratic brand.

Good luck with your regional rump party. Drill the teabaggers, baby!

Re:Why can ideologists and unions lobby? (1)

omb (759389) | more than 4 years ago | (#30110086)

Because the Corporations corrupt the Democratic process with hidden bribary, which is illegal but poorly enforced.

Can we get rid of foreign lobbyists? (0, Flamebait)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109418)

Why are foreign companies even allowed to lobby in the United States? IT's a fricking invasion, is what this is.

That explains yodeling from Reps. Hoyer and Cantor (0, Troll)

leftie (667677) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109444)

I wondered what was up with all the damn yodeling on the House Floor lately.

Also explains the "Austria's Olympic Ski Team sucks" comment on the record from Rep. Michelle Bachman

Business as usual? (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109456)

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

Right on the first point, wrong on the second.

-jcr

JOHN C. RANDOLPH FOR PRESIDENT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30109916)

Dammit, people, we need real leaders in the White House. We need men of Honor, Pride, and American Values showing us the way.

I know of only two men who can do this job:

1. Congressman Ron Paul
2. John C. Randolph

Ron is getting on in age, so I think that leaves the job square in John's lap.

John, we, the American people, need you. Our nation needs you to be our guide. Take the reins, and LEAD US TO GLORY!

Cute. Real cute. (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 4 years ago | (#30110338)

we need real leaders in the White House

No, we don't. We've had plenty of "real leaders", and far too many people believe that everything will be OK if you just get the right person "in charge".

-jcr

I doubt this is unusual (1)

Cracked Pottery (947450) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109464)

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.

It's the other way around... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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 and Solution (1)

F34nor (321515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109574)

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:Problem and Solution (2, Interesting)

Lloyd_Bryant (73136) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109730)

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 restricted to a limited number of seats.

Of course, this will *never* happen, as the politicians who can implement such a change are the ones who benefit most from the current system...

Re:Problem and Solution (2, Interesting)

jcr (53032) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109776)

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

Re:Problem and Solution (1)

baboo_jackal (1021741) | more than 4 years ago | (#30110382)

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.

Re:Problem and Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30110602)

How about an idea that might actually happen, instead of one of your libertarian fantasies JCR?

Re:Problem and Solution (1)

omb (759389) | more than 4 years ago | (#30110028)

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

Re:Problem and Solution (1)

Shillo (64681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30110062)

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'.

Re:Problem and Solution (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 4 years ago | (#30110260)

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 receive considerable subsidies (GMAC, Chrysler, HCA).

Also consider that corporations are aggregate representations of their employees and shareholders, which are (in theory) regular, average citizens. Granted, wealthy shareholders are overrepresented, although this does not necessarily give the corporation any more or less right to have its voice heard in congress. In fact, I would argue that corporations that employ tons of workers, or are engaged in cutting-edge research need to be heard by the government.

I'll concede that much corporate lobbying is categorically evil, although there needs to be a system by which legitimate and beneficial interests can be represented. Also note that there's a rather slippery slope by which any corporate lobbying regulations would likely apply to unions and nonprofits as well.

*Nothing against Steve. Just a random example.

Re:Problem and Solution (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30110416)

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.

Learn how your political opponents think (2, Interesting)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109940)

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 makes all the difference in the world. It really drives us crazy. It was why we got so freaked about the WTC collapse, more than if the towers were brought down simultaneously by e.g. faulty construction and high winds, or accidental fires from careless smoking, or a weird "Manhattan" bug common to all flight software in use. That would have been a one-week story, like that bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis two years ago. Maybe. Asthma killed more Americans in 2001 than did the WTC attacks and those deaths are barely Googleable.

Second of all we can plainly tell what free speech is irresponsible, and not deserving of "our granting it constitutional protections", as soon as we hear it. But this "money is not a form of speech" thing is going nowhere:

Look- it says right on the money "In God We Trust"!

I suggest going back to the drawing board before you get schooled in public by the likes of Sarah Palin.

We need another party (4, Informative)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:We need another party (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30109818)

Where have I heard this before? Oh yeah, http://xkcd.com/661/ [xkcd.com]

Re:We need another party (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#30110108)

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 (4, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#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?

You betcha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30109670)

Make them wear sponsor patches! I'll go along with that. One condition: the union and ideological (mostly code for enviro) lobbyists have to wear patches as well.

Re:End the pretense (2, Interesting)

Jay Clay (971209) | more than 4 years ago | (#30110044)

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.

It's not a talking point, it's a technical point (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#30110244)

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. There's no way anyone should vote for something they cannot reasonably admit they understand the impact of.

Think of this as a coding issue, since regulations are very much like a set of instructions for a system to operate. Would you not be aghast to find some class in the middle of a code base with 1900 methods, all calling each other? That's basically what we have here.

Such bills should be broken down into comprehensible chunks where we could debate specific issues openly, not hiding all manner of exploits in the middle of a vast body of text. That happens no matter who is writing a bill, which is why transparency is so vital but so too is comprehensibility. It is not like we can't take the time to reform health care right if that is what we think needs doing.

Re:End the pretense (1)

sapphire wyvern (1153271) | more than 4 years ago | (#30110200)

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 as holding to an ideology rather than being beholden to vested interests. But a nice photoshop based around the concept would be an excellent piece of art for a third party to create during a campaign, as a way of both criticizing the lobbyist system and simultaneously educating the public.

Genentech are REAL? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30109648)

Why in gods name did i think they were some fictional company from a game?
Or are they?]AH
Leave me alone with my insanity, i don't know left from orange anymore.

Absolutely true. (1)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109696)

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 universal health care that works, our method isn't even close to a working model. All the talk that a bad bill is a good first step, so just shut up and go along with the crowd pisses me off. And if you say anything against it, you are a tea-bagger nut job. At least SNL can start to comment on the lack of progress in this presidents term.

There is a reason every insurance company and drug company wants the bill to pass, no price controls and all citizens must buy health care.

SSDD, follow the money, and most are on the take.

Funny, I'm more upset about the mandatory piece, when I'm not even in the age bracket that will be affected. I have insurance from work. The people just out of school not living at home getting hit with a 200-500 insurance bill. Or the middle class people who just lost their jobs and cant afford to pay the mortgage, and now has to pay insurance on top of it for a family. Good kick to people while they are down. They wont be accepted for the public option, and cant afford insurance, so will be fined with a tax, and have their unemployment garnished..

Of course, what do I know. Just my jaded rambling based on my personal life experience.

Re:Absolutely true. (1)

TimHunter (174406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109874)

There is a reason every insurance company and drug company wants the bill to pass, no price controls and all citizens must buy health care.

I don't know which state you're living in, but in North Carolina the health insurance companies are fighting the bill tooth and nail.

http://projects.newsobserver.com/under_the_dome/kinnaird_seconds_bcbs_probe_request/ [newsobserver.com]

no pre existing conditions is needed! Rape is one (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30110056)

no pre existing conditions is needed! Rape is one so that system has to go as some people have lost health care over just about anything.

half right (1)

godless dave (844089) | more than 4 years ago | (#30109736)

This happens all the time. There was nothing nefarious about it.
He's half right. This corruption is so entrenched most of them don't even notice it any more.

Hand in the back (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

no surprise, pols are bought/paid for by corrupt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30109824)

banks/companies/lobbyiest etc....From prez down to congress reps/senators, they are paid to enrich the rich while we, the poor, slowly die and/or unemployed. I don't vote because I never believe liars like Bush, Obama, Pelosi etc...they are all liars.

effective lobbying != improper lobbying (2, Insightful)

tloh (451585) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

"Nothing nefarious"?? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30110110)

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

"Nothing nefarious" my cute little butt.

Re:"Nothing nefarious"?? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30110634)

Oh, it's been years now.

Of course, the problem isn't that a Swiss corporation goes to the trouble of writing the statement, it is that the Congressman reads the statement and still gets reelected.

All politicians should serve two terms (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30110140)

..one in office. The other in prison.

Happens often != Not-nefarious (2, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30110280)

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 (3, Interesting)

merky1 (83978) | more than 4 years ago | (#30110394)

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...

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