Friday, August 14, 2009

Rev Morales, Clout, and Pay-to-Play

Rev Morales uses a fine old Chicago word in his Friends letter on Health Care Reform: Clout. Len O'Conner named his biography of the former Mayor Daley Clout. It's what makes Chicago and many of its suburbs go.

Right now where going through the scandals of Clout lists the University of Illinois kept for admissions. Lists of kids with Clout behind them the University would admit when it probably shouldn't. Corruption certain to seep into any reforms that create waits and lists; at least as long as Chicago Pols keep the lists.

Another Chicago term is Pay-to-Play. The practice of vendors kicking points to Politicians in return for preference on Government contracts. It's exactly what the Pharmaceutical lobby is doing kicking in $150 million for the ObamaCare TV ads, and the billions in savings Obama said Pharmaceuticals had promised him at that NH Town Hall.

That's Pay-to-Play in Illinois. Money vendors put down on the table in anticipation of lucrative contracts.

Robert Reich (perhapes one of Rev Morales demogoges on reform? Morales never says who those are. He owes us that.) wrote of the deal with big Drugs,
When the industry support comes with an industry-sponsored ad campaign in favor of that legislation, the threat to democracy is even greater. Citizens end up paying for advertisements designed to persuade them that the legislation is in their interest. In this case, those payments come in the form of drug prices that will be higher than otherwise, stretching years into the future.

I don't want to be puritanical about all this. Politics is a rough game in which means and ends often get mixed and melded. Perhaps the White House deal with Big Pharma is a necessary step to get anything resembling universal health insurance. But if that's the case, our democracy is in terrible shape. How soon until big industries and their Washington lobbyists have become so politically powerful that secret White House-industry deals like this are prerequisites to any important legislation? When will it become standard practice that such deals come with hundreds of millions of dollars of industry-sponsored TV advertising designed to persuade the public that the legislation is in the public's interest? (Any Democrats and progressives who might be reading this should ask themselves how they'll feel when a Republican White House cuts such deals to advance its own legislative priorities.)

We're on a precarious road -- and wherever it leads, it's not toward democracy.
It's the road towards Illinois, and the giant cesspool of Illinois corruption spread throughout the nation. That's where the road leads.

Update: The deal here.

No comments: