Examiner Editorial: Dems forge backroom deals for Obamacare 

That old saw about “the more things change, the more they stay the same” keeps coming back as the revelations mount on what’s going on behind closed doors while White House and congressional officials harvest votes for Obamacare.

For example, remember President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign promise that the lobbyists and special interests would be banned from the health care reform process? Now comes word via Politico that drug industry lobbyists spent a good part of the weekend with Democratic congressional staffers writing the bill: “The weekend included high drama for the drug industry as lobbyists huddled with Democratic staffers to work out a fee structure and donut-hole fix. … Drug makers were asked to sign off on multiple solutions so that backup options were available should any of the fixes run into problems passing muster with the Senate parliamentarian.”

Things must have gone swimmingly between the drug lobbyists and their Democratic congressional staff buddies, because Politico added that “there was ‘real heartburn with the bill over the weekend and over the last week,’ an industry source said. But insiders expressed confidence that their issues were on the road to resolution.” Yessiree, spending Saturday and Sunday rewriting legislation cures that heartburn every time.

Then there are those infamous special deals in the Senate bill — the Cornhusker Kickback, Louisiana Purchase, Gator Aid and so forth. Last week, Obama said he wanted them removed. But over the weekend, White House senior aide David Axelrod waffled when asked about the deals, saying Obama now only objects to deals that only apply to one state: “The principle that we want to apply is that, are these [deals] applicable to all states? Even if they do not qualify now, would they qualify under certain sets of circumstances?”

According to the Associated Press, “that is the argument made earlier by aides to Democratic Sens. Max Baucus of Montana and Chris Dodd of Connecticut. The measure to give Medicare coverage to asbestos-sickened residents of Libby, Mont., for example, could apply to other places where public health emergencies are declared — even though Libby is the only place where that has happened so far.”

Finally, White House political operatives are reportedly offering presidential fundraising appearances to wavering representatives as incentives to get them to commit to vote for an unspecified new version of Obamacare that will have “passed the House even though no recorded vote on it was actually taken.

Lobbyists writing bills behind closed doors, special- interest deals to buy votes, campaign cash for support — wasn’t that what Obama and the Democrats in Congress ran against?

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Staff Report

Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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