Sheryl Gay Stolberg really missed the point here:
The story of these two lobbyists — a Republican who found favor with a Democratic White House and a Democrat on the outs — illustrates the complexities Mr. Obama faces in the health care endgame. The president had some early success in bringing industry on board. But as the experiences of Mr. Tauzin and Ms. Ignagni suggest, keeping it there will be easier said than done.
There’s really no other way to say it than Stolberg doesn’t get the players in health care reform. Billy Tauzin represents the pharmaceutical industry. Karen Ignagni represents the health insurance industry. That is, the two of them represent industries whose constituents have overcharged the American public through sky-high pricing, unfair rate increases, rescission, and stranglehold patents that are responsible for the fundamental problems in health care in America. Their clients are petrified of reform and have hired them – admittedly two very competent lobbyists – to stop reform from cutting into their bottom lines (or ideally, growing their profits).
Ignagni and Tauzin brought AHIP and PhRMA “on board” with the Obama administration’s reform efforts because they believed that being at the table would allow them to slow any changes that would affect their clients, reduce the impact of reform, and ensure that the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries maintained their sky-high profits. While there is obviously value in the Obama administration keeping these two moneyed lobbies on the sidelines during the ad war, in the end both have become huge roadblocks in the path of reform…just as anyone with half a brain would have predicted.
Ignagni and Tauzin are lobbyist hacks who are working for a paycheck. They have access and they have been given even more. But they are corruptly fighting against the needs of the American people. Fighting these interests is certainly a complex process, but not in the way that Stolberg casts it above. Once you recognize that Ignagni and Tauzin exist to stop reform, the complexity becomes how do you out-maneuver them and their massive corporate war chests? The Obama administration does not have to bring AHIP and PhRMA along. It does not need their approval to pass reform. This is not a fascist government. This is a democracy and whatever is passed by Congress and signed by the President will have the force of law, regardless of how it affects the bottom line of the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries. Ignagni and Tauzin may be doing their best to protect their clients, but to say they are anything other than K Street profiteers who are benefiting from the exploitation, pain, and suffering of the American public is to ignore the realities of who they work for and what legislative agenda they are advocating.