A think tank founded by GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich collected at least $37 million over the past eight years from major health-care companies and industry groups, offering special access to the former House speaker and other perks, according to records and interviews.
The Center for Health Transformation, which opened in 2003, brought in dues of as much as $200,000 per year from insurers and other health-care firms, offering some of them “access to Newt Gingrich” and “direct Newt interaction,” according to promotional materials. The biggest funders, including firms such as AstraZeneca, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Novo Nordisk, were also eligible to receive discounts on “products and workshops” from other Gingrich groups.
The health center advocated, among other things, requiring that “anyone who earns more than $50,000 a year must purchase health insurance or post a bond,” a type of insurance mandate that has since become anathema to conservatives.
The group also pushed proposals to build centralized electronic medical records and use such data to research treatment effectiveness, both central features of President Obama’s health-care reforms.
Gingrich, who has been under fire recently for his lucrative consulting business, left the health-care think tank earlier this year to run for president. But his time there exemplifies the former Georgia congressman’s post-legislative career as a well-paid consultant and policy guru, a role that earned him and his companies tens of millions of dollars over the past decade.
One veteran progressive Democrat in Congress once observed that it is not the illegal activities in Washington that are shocking, it is the legal activities. Both parties, conservatives in particular think ethics are something you sprinkle on your corn flakes when you’re in the mood. Gingrich may have engaged in some illegal fund raising. Like his Fannie May issues the fact that he sold access and influence is about ethics and hypocrisy. as in Newt Gingrich On Occupy Wall Street: Barney Frank, Chris Dodd Should Go To Jail (VIDEO). Arne Christenson, a former Newt Gingrich aide, was senior vice president for regulatory policy at Fannie. he and Newt both promoted Fannie and Freddie Mac as good things. The theory went that the more people they could get to become homeowners, the more they would pay in taxes, thus they would all vote right-wing. Democrats felt similarly about Freddie and Fannie. Only they came it from a different angle. They thought home ownership would spur growth and employment in construction and all the industries that make the stuff homeowners buy. If you go to a sight like Opensecrets that tracks such things you can see Republicans teetering back and forth in who received the most political donations from Freddie and Fannie. And as the Atlantic links suggests it is stretching credulity beyond reasonable limits to suggest Gingrich just gave Fannie some “historical” advice. Putting some more of the pieces together - If Newt Saw The Housing Bubble In 2006, Why Didn’t He Bother To Tell Us?
Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich received $600,000 from Freddie Mac in two years preceding the 2008 financial crisis. Former Freddie Mac officials say, according to Bloomberg, he was paid “to build bridges to Capitol Hill Republicans” who were “seeking to dismantle” it.
Gingrich will not confirm the exact fee, only that it was a “standard Washington fee.” And he disputes what he was hired to do.
He claims he was paid to give “advice” as a “historian.” And that advice was, in Gingrich’s words, “This is a bubble. This is insane.”
If Gingrich is telling the truth, that would mean he identified the housing bubble in 2006 or 2007, before most.
To quote The Wedding Singer, “that information really would’ve been more useful to me YESTERDAY.”
If Gingrich really saw an economically devastating housing bubble that few were warning about at the time, he surely would not only share his concerns with those who paid him a six-figure retainer. He would do the right thing for humanity, stand on the highest pedestal, scream to the heavens and sound the alarm that we had a dangerous housing bubble to tame.
And Gingrich is not known for his shyness or reticence.
Yet since he began his weekly “Newt Gingrich Letter” for the conservative Human Events magazine in April 2006, through the fall of 2008 — roughly the same time period as his work for Freddie Mac – Gingrich did not once announce that the housing bubble was coming.
For someone who has passed himself as a conservative intellectual since the early 1990s, Newt has an astounding ability to paint himself into corners which no known logic can explain away.
Perry Ad Distorts Obama ‘Lazy’ Comment – This news is a little old, but worth a revisit.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry takes President Obama to task in a new TV ad for recently suggesting — in Perry’s words — that “Americans are lazy.”
“Can you believe that? That’s what our president thinks is wrong with America? That Americans are lazy? That’s pathetic,” Perry says in the spot that’s airing in Iowa and New Hampshire.
The only problem: the full context of Obama’s remarks made Saturday during a meeting of CEOs in Honolulu indicates he wasn’t suggesting that at all.
Boeing CEO James McNerney asked Obama about his thinking on the perception by some countries of “impediments to investment” in the U.S.
Obama replied that “we’ve been a little bit lazy” about actively trying to attract private foreign investors to U.S. soil — referring broadly to American government and business sectors, not the American people themselves.
It is understandable that conservatives would take some plain English and twist it to propaganda proportions. As a rule Republicans like to paint Democrats with their sins. Conservatives have been calling, implying and taunting the average American worker for decades. Since I’m writing a blog post and not a book, let’s just look at two examples. One from October of this year from conservative Senate leader Mitch McConnell(R-KY), McConnell’s pro-unemployment argument
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) last week kept his caucus united and killed a popular jobs bill during a jobs crisis. The plan — 400,000 jobs for teachers, police officers, and firefighters, paid for with a 0.5% surtax on millionaires and billionaires — was wildly popular with the public, but McConnell and his Senate Republicans killed it anyway.
Yesterday on CNN, Candy Crowley asked him why. The GOP leader replied:
“Well, Candy, I’m sure that Americans do, I certainly do approve of firefighters and police. The question is whether the federal government ought to be raising taxes on 300,000 small businesses in order to send money down to bail out states for whom firefighters and police work. They are local and state employees.
“Look, we have a debt the size of our economy. That alone makes us look a lot like Greece. The question is whether the federal government can afford to be bailing out states. I think the answer is no…. Look, we are not going to get this economy going by continuing to shower money on the public sector.”
By way of a fact-check, let’s note a couple of the glaring errors here. The first is that the financing relied on a small tax increase on millionaires and billionaires, not small businesses. The number of businesses affected is ridiculously small, making McConnell’s claim patently dishonest.
Teachers, firefighters and police don’t do any real work, thus they are expendable goes McConnell’s argument. Like the vast majority of conservatives McConnell believes public employees do not count as workers and the money they would spend at American businesses is just Monopoly money. Many millionaires not only would not object to such a tax increase – which they would recoup by employed people buying their goods and services – many millionaires want to be taxed at a higher rate. And this conservative is also a great believer in the American worker – GOP State Rep: Obama ‘Enables’ ‘Lazy’ Americans By Extending Unemployment Benefits
Conservatives have pounced on President Obama for the completely false story that he called Americans “lazy.” But one Iowa Republican is publicly agreeing with the disparaging characterization Obama never made. State Rep. Josh Byrnes doesn’t think all Americans are lazy — just the 14 million who are unemployed. And he blames Obama for the problem, writing:
I might have to partially agree with President Obama on this one. I don’t think Americans as a whole are lazy, but we have some pockets of Americans that appear lazy. Ironically, the president has helped enable some of these pockets by doing things like extending unemployment benefits.
Byrnes also says people who are out of work could find jobs if they wanted to, but are simply too proud: “There are jobs out there and I think the problem is that some people think some of these jobs are beneath them.”
I live in the real world and sure there are probably a very small percentage of people who would rather not work. That real world also contains many people we’re all familiar with – they “work” alongside us or supervise us, they sure as heck pick up their paycheck, but they are a lot like Rep. Byrnes, they do as little work as they can get away with. I suspect that like most conservatives Byrnes lives in his own little world, completely out of touch with the lives of American workers. There is no gravy train to live off of without a job. Food stamps pays people a little over $4 a day for their entire day’s supply of food. You have to work 40 hours a week to get what everyone calls “welfare“. If someone is a little screwy they might well enjoy being poor and hungry. McConnell and Byrnes seem to think all Americans are that dumb, that lazy or that screwed up.
The question is still an important one for many liberals. The claim lives on to this day, and is still seen as perhaps the clearest evidence from Obama’s first term that liberals ultimately can’t trust him on their core priorities, and won’t be able to trust him going forward.
But did he? A close look suggests there’s no evidence that he did.
The latest version of this assertion comes today in a Drew Westen Op ed. He claims as outright fact that even as pundits endlessly debated the public option, in reality “the president had cut a deal with health care industry executives to block it the year before.”
Westin links to what appears to be confirmation for this story, and it’s been repeated by others. However, if you follow the links the story starts to dissolve — after a couple levels of assertions that this “deal” has been proven, it turns out to be built on some very murky stuff.
The background: There were certainly two significant deals that the White House made with interest groups. One was with the drug companies, to leave re-importation out of health care reform. The second, with the hospitals, limited how much ACA would cost them. But some liberals believed that the White House was also out to get the public option from the beginning.
There is also some good criticism here of the Drew Westen Op ed – The NYT Should Be Ashamed of Itself (Again). I read the original Westen piece and in many ways the guy’s sympathies are in the right place. He screws up whatever good he was trying to accomplish by getting multiple facts wrong. There was no pre ordained deal to sabotage the public option at the White House. The only thing resembling something related to that is Obama’s public announcement at one point that the public option was not as important as some others thought it was. That sudden show of willingness to perhaps compromise it away added to the Westen-style mythology surrounding the public option. The WaPo has a not terrible timeline – Timeline for health care reform. Nov 8 Democrats need Joe Lieberman’s(I-VT) vote, but he threatens filibuster if it contains a public option. As of Dec 13, 2009 Lieberman says he will vote against a compromise bill that would allow anyone 55 or older to buy into Medicare. Largely because of Ted Kennedy’s death and the ensuing election of Scott Brown, Democrats lose 60 vote majority. At that juncture a public option – already in danger by Republican opposition and Lieberman, has no chance of passage.
Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do.
- Potter Stewart