Opinion: Healthcare lobbyists: 6 for <em>each</em> member of Congress
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Here’s something that might have slipped passed while you were postponing the weekend by working so very late Friday night.
First, to state the obvious: In the 50 states, everyone has two senators and one House member representing them in Washington. Those members of Congress are presumably back home now getting an earful in public meetings from both sides about the hot summer’s hottest issue, the broad healthcare reform legislation favored by President Obama, who was going to bring folks together.
There was much talk from the same two sides all last week about packing of those local get-togethers that Investor’s Business Daily so deliciously calls ‘clown hall meetings.’ Supporters and opponents charged that the other side was busing in adherents and packing the sessions, and even being anti-American with their dissent.
The president, who held three healthcare talk-fests himself, also complained about the media focusing mainly on the disorderly sessions. How strange! That would be like the media focusing on one lousy plane crash instead of the thousands of safe flights each day. Or residents gossiping about a neighborhood divorce, instead of the dozens of happy nearby marriages.
Anyway, here are some startling lesser-known facts, pulled together by two diligent Bloomberg News reporters, Lizzie O’Leary and Jonathan Salant:
Every one of those 534 members of Congress now has six (6!) lobbyists working on them -- and that’s just for healthcare.
A total of 3,300 lobbyists have registered to drive the sizzling healthcare issue in Washington -- three times the brigade of lobbyists representing the entire defense industry.
And three more healthcare lobbyists join the ongoing fray every day.
They reported spending more than $234 million massaging and informing and persuading those legislators during the first six months of this year, way more than a million bucks a day, seven days a week.
So, whatever your side, who do you suppose will still be standing -- and talking -- when the congressional recess is over and the elected representatives return to their safe homes inside the Beltway?
-- Andrew Malcolm
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