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Corruption doesn’t get more blatant than the Senate Finance Committee protecting a rapacious health care industry — defying their own constituencies who demand a public health insurance option — as it engorges their campaign chests.

What we citizens need to know is: Exactly who contributed to whom today as Congressional committees deliberated? Every generous installment to each Congress member should be prime-time network news. If the media revealed the industry’s money-throwing at key legislators as religiously as their Congressional posturing, an incensed public would rise up in anger, seeing the fix is in.

But in the mainstream media, private-interest payoffs are verboten. We must demand that the media spotlight each health industry pay-off to each Senate Finance Committee member while it subverts reform to protect private interests.

On July 31, as the din of the health care battle rang through Congress, liberal columnist David Sirota decried the “13 … [House and Senate] delegates holding the initiative hostage.”

He blamed it squarely on private-interest campaign financing that pays elected representatives to betray the will of the people they represent.

Sirota named the six Senate Finance Committee lawmakers who — after receiving some $13 million in campaign contributions — busied themselves strangling a public health insurance option offering at least a modicum of competition to near-monopolistic private health insurers. These representatives from states comprising four percent of Americans, empowered to smother the desires of the majority, are Max Baucus, D-Mont.; Charles Grassley, R-Iowa; Kent Conrad, D-N.D.; Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.; and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine.

Conflict of interest doesn’t get more blatant than Baucus et al protecting a rapacious health care industry — defying their own constituencies who demand a public health insurance option — as it engorges their campaign chests.

Sirota isn’t alone. Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! named money-throwing companies and major beneficiaries Baucus and John Kerry. And Bill Moyers reported the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America passing out $6.2 million and the drug company Pfizer distributing $5.6 million in just the second quarter of this year — and getting generous concessions from Baucus’s committee.

Yet even these liberal commentators only hint at the deluge Sirota aptly calls “legalized bribery.” What we citizens need to know is: Exactly who contributed to whom today as committees deliberated? Every generous installment to each Congress member should be prime-time network news.

But in the mainstream media, private-interest payoffs are verboten. On July 21 news wire service UPI revealed $1.5 million in contributions to Baucus. Did you hear or read about it? Didn’t think so. Will you be told about the money being siphoned to other Finance Committee members? Don’t hold your breath.

That’s ironic, considering that so many laws require disclosure and so many sources work so hard to make the information not just available but easy to report. Berkeley-based MAPLight.org reports campaign contributions four different ways, citing data from OpenSecrets.org, the site of the Center for Responsive Government.

So why don’t the mainstream media expose it? Amazingly, the corruption is so endemic, so universal, it's old news — meaning it's not news.

I recently challenged KGO news talk radio host Gene Burns (San Francisco Bay Area) on air to expose the ongoing flood of cash to Congress.

“I’m not going to,” he declared emphatically. “Everyone knows millions of dollars are donated to legislators. It’s not news.”

Sorry, Gene, but the details ARE news. If the media revealed the industry’s money-throwing at key legislators as religiously as the Congressional posturing, an incensed public would rise up in anger, seeing the fix is in.

We must demand that the media spotlight each health industry pay-off to each Senate Finance Committee member while it subverts reform to protect private interests. MoveOn, are you listening?

# # #

Originally posted to damead on Sun Aug 02, 2009 at 11:31 AM PDT.

Poll

Would you pay attention if the media report which Congress members writing health care reform are receiving monies from health care reps?

63%12 votes
5%1 votes
26%5 votes
5%1 votes
0%0 votes

| 19 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (3+ / 0-)

    Still trying to decide what i want to be when i grow up.

    by damead on Sun Aug 02, 2009 at 11:31:37 AM PDT

  •  Traditional Corporate owned media? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Citizen

    You mean?

    Think that explains it succinctly.
    They do not bite the hand that feeds, much the same as many politicians.

    A Creative Revolution- - To revolt within society in order to make it a little better- Krishnamurti

    by pale cold on Sun Aug 02, 2009 at 11:34:14 AM PDT

  •  Media have their own conflict of interest (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    damead

    Congress-critters aren't the only pigs feasting at the For-Profit Medical Industry trough. Newspapers and TV news programming are as dependent on advertising money from that industry as a junkie is on his needle. When every other ad on a TV newscast or in a major newpaper is for a big pharma drug or an insurance company, how likely is it that the news director or managing editor will let his reporters tell the truth about how these industries rip off Americans and commit murder by spreadsheet?

    We have the best free press that money can buy.

    Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives. - John Stuart Mill

    by vulcangrrl on Sun Aug 02, 2009 at 11:58:35 AM PDT

    •  Media conflict of interest (0+ / 0-)

      You're absolutely right. And the media react just like politicians: If their audience goes somewhere else that supplies the news we want/need, the abandoned sources will change their content. After all, what they're selling to advertisers is an audience.

      Still trying to decide what i want to be when i grow up.

      by damead on Sun Aug 02, 2009 at 12:50:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If only (0+ / 0-)

        Read up on Edward R Murrow. His news broadcast had a huge audience, but when he spoke truth to power, his corporate sponsors pulled out and he was kicked off the air.

        Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives. - John Stuart Mill

        by vulcangrrl on Fri Aug 07, 2009 at 02:48:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Gene Burns doesn't give a crap, he's a well paid (0+ / 0-)

    well fed libertarian old school radio talk show host. And he hates govt. spending.

    His rationalizations for what's news worthy are laughable and as corrupt as the establishment corporate media's.

  •  This curious. (0+ / 0-)

    Most of your poll voters picked choice 1, stating in part, "a representative getting private interest money can't serve the public interest with integrity."

    Given that, I'm wondering why you aren't calling for greater transparency across the board, irrespective of a committee member's position.  You've made me curious as to who's contributing to all of them.

    As side notes:

    1. I was struck by Sirota's choice to use the word "Districts" in his piece when refering to legislator's political roots, although 6 of the malfactors are Senators.
    1. It's also amusing that money spent on "Lobbying Activities" transmongrifies to money being "handed out", the implication being to these specific legislators.
    1. Campaign contribution numbers are meaningless without a timeframe specified.

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