Written by David Sirota
From the Department of You Just Can’t Make This Stuff Up, check out this little-noticed report from the Billings Gazette today:
Liz Fowler, a key staffer for U.S. Sen. Max Baucus who helped draft the federal health reform bill enacted in March, is joining the Obama administration to help implement the new law…
Fowler headed up a team of 20-some Senate Finance Committee staffers who helped draft the bill in the Senate. She was Baucus’ top health care aide from 2001-2005 and left that job in 2006 to become an executive at WellPoint, the nation’s largest private insurer. She was vice president of public policy at WellPoint, helping develop public-policy positions for the company. In 2008, she rejoined Baucus to work on health reform legislation.
For some good background on Fowler and the insidious role she played in killing the public option, watch Bill Moyers’ recent segment here.
Clearly, this is a telling indictment of the health care law itself, strongly suggesting that it was constructed by the Obama administration — as some progressives argued — as a massive taxpayer-financed giveaway to private insurers like WellPoint. And let’s be honest: In investment terms, Fowler has been a jackpot for the health industry. The industry maximized her public policy experience for their own uses when they plucked her out of the Senate. Then, having lined her pockets, they deposited her first into a key Senate committee to write the new health care law that they will operate under, and now into the administration that will implement said law. Any bets on how much Fowler will make when WellPoint (or another health insurer) inevitably rehires her in a few years?
This story is also a telling indictment of the Washington media. You’ll notice that the Obama administration’s move was reported by the Billings Gazette, but (save for a blog entry on the Hill’s website, one context-free line at the bottom of the Washington Post‘s gossip column, and a blurb in Congressional Quarterly’s HealthBeat newsletter) was almost completely ignored by national Washington-based publications. That’s not because D.C. reporters didn’t know it was happening — more likely, it is because the political press corps in the nation’s capital no longer sees this kind of revolving door corruption as even mildly problematic, much less newsworthy. That’s how pervasive corruption is these days — ubiquitous to the point of invisible in the eyes of most of the so-called watchdogs.
David Sirota is a political strategist and NY Times bestselling author whose work appears in major newspapers and magazines. He has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, CNBC and The Colbert Report. He has appeared in TV debates with right-wing icons like Ann Coulter, John Stossel and John Fund. Email: david [at] davidsirota.com.