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Obama Met With ‘Lobbyist’ Tom Daschle

From a short term memory deficient Washington Post:

Oval Office Visit Hints at Daschle’s Role

President Consulting Man He Once Wanted as Czar on the Issue

By Philip Rucker and Anne E. Kornblut
Saturday, August 22, 2009

Former Senate majority leader Thomas A. Daschle’s visit to the Oval Office on Friday, at the invitation of President Obama, was more than just a meeting between two loyal friends and political allies. It also served as a reminder of what might have been.

As Obama’s health-care agenda teeters in Congress, the White House listed the private meeting on the president’s public schedule, sending a signal that Obama is still consulting Daschle on his top domestic policy priority. An assiduous student of health policy and an adept creature of the Senate, Daschle was Obama’s first pick to oversee his reforms, but a firestorm over Daschle’s failure to pay about $146,000 in taxes on time prompted the South Dakota Democrat in February to withdraw his nomination to be secretary of health and human services.

Since returning to the private sector, Daschle has served a dual role on health care. He has informally advised high-ranking administration officials, including senior aide Pete Rouse and health-care reform czar Nancy-Ann DeParle, who took over half of the job Obama created for Daschle. On television shows, in speeches and at symposiums, he has been a vocal advocate for a universal coverage plan that includes the public insurance option.

But Daschle is also working closely with lobbyists, through his job at the Alston and Bird law firm, as an adviser to United Health Group, one of the nation’s largest insurance companies. The insurance industry opposes the public option.

White House aides said that Daschle’s corporate work does not present a conflict of interest and that Obama counts the former Senate leader as a confidant. "The president knows and expects that, when he asks Senator Daschle a question, that he’s getting the opinion of Senator Daschle and not anybody else," press secretary Robert Gibbs said.

Friday’s meeting — which the White House said focused largely on health care — also prompted conjecture about whether Obama’s reform agenda might have achieved a different fate thus far under Daschle’s stewardship.

"No one in these jobs is truly unique, but he was about as close to it as possible, in terms of the depth of substantive knowledge and understanding of the personalities on Capitol Hill and the process on Capitol Hill," said a senior Democrat who is close to Obama and spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss a sensitive matter. "I think the loss of him from the inside is a factor in the way things have developed."

The source said he did not intend any slight on current administration officials, but he added that Daschle had "the credibility, the knowledge and the relationships that I think are, to some extent, unsurpassable, so everybody looks a little bit less strong than I think he would’ve been." …

Daschle talks regularly about health care with his friends in Congress, including Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), and he met in May with House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) and other lawmakers.

"He’s been a counselor to people both on Capitol Hill and within the administration in terms of advice about how to move the process along, how to get the deal that would most meet the goals that the president’s laid out to expand coverage," said John D. Podesta, president of the Center for American Progress and former co-chairman of Obama’s transition team.

Gibbs said Daschle "doesn’t have a formal role at the White House, but the president certainly listens to his advice and counsel as he does to many others." …

Daschle wrote a book, "Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis," proposing an independent federal body to oversee health policy…

Funny, but neither this article nor any about this meeting from our watchdog media give any more than the most passing nod to the fact that Mr. Obama is meeting with a fat cat healthcare lobbyist.

Which, we seem to recall, was something our President promised to eschew.

From an article we posted back in January, from the Politico:

Daschle made $5m; health groups paid $220k

Daschle made $5m in last 2 years

By: Kenneth P. Vogel
January 30, 2009

Tom Daschle, under fire for not paying taxes, made nearly $5.3 million in the last two years, records released Friday show.

Daschle, the former Senate Democratic leader who President Obama has tapped to overhaul the nation’s healthcare system, was paid $220,000 to give speeches to outfits that have a vested interest in the result the work he would do once confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services

For instance, the Health Industry Distributors Association plunked down $14,000 to land the former Senate Democratic Leader in March 2008. The association, which represents medical products distributors, boasts on its website that Daschle met with it after he was nominated to discuss “the impact an Obama administration will have on the industry.”

This week, the group began openly lobbying him, sending him a letter urging him to rescind a rule requiring competitive bidding of Medicare contracts

Another organization, America’s Health Insurance Plans, paid $20,000 for a Daschle speaking appearance in February 2007. It represents health insurance companies, which under Obama’s plan would be barred from denying coverage on the basis of health or age.

There was a $12,000 talk to GE Healthcare in August, a $20,000 lecture in January to Premier, Inc., a health care consulting firm, and a pair of $18,000 speeches this year to different hospital systems, among other paid appearances before healthcare groups.

The speaking fees were detailed in a financial disclosure statement released Friday, which showed that Daschle pulled down a total of more than $500,000 from the speaking circuit in the last two years, and $5.3 million in overall income.

That includes more than $2 million in consulting fees from InterMedia Advisors, a private equity firm

He also became an adviser to the law and lobbying firm Alston & Bird, which paid him $2.1 million in wages last year and also provided him a 401k and profit sharing plan worth between $100,000 and $250,000, according to the report.

In his three years at the firm, it’s earned more than $16 million lobbying on behalf of some of the health care industry’s most powerful interests before the department he’s in line to lead. Though Daschle, himself, did not register to lobby for the firm, he has advised the firm’s clients on health care issues, according to the firm’s website.

His disclosure indicates he provided “policy advice” to such clients as United Health, AT&T and the politically connected consulting shop Glover Park Group.

After leaving the Senate, Daschle also landed a host of lucrative board spots, including with the energy giant BP Corporation, which paid him $250,000 in fees, developer CB Richard Ellis, which paid $121,000, and ethanol processor Mascoma Corporation, which paid him $75,000, according to the disclosure.

It shows that Daschle has hundreds of thousands of dollars in stocks and options from CB Richard Ellis and Mascoma, though he indicated he forfeited his unvested stock options and wrote that “if confirmed, I will divest my vested stock options with CB Richard Ellis.”

He reported owning homes worth as much as $250,000 each in Aberdeen, S.D. and Altus, Okla. with his wife, a high-powered lobbyist for Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz

We sure hope Mr. Obama didn’t fall prey to special interests.

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, August 22nd, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

6 Responses to “Obama Met With ‘Lobbyist’ Tom Daschle”

  1. MinnesotaRush says:

    o-blah-blah: “My administration will not be influenced by special interests or lobbyists!” … (whispering under breath) .. that is, until I’m elected.

    Of course, this fits with all of the rest of his empty promises.

  2. Liberals Demise says:

    His Transparency looks more like the STONE WALL he is giving us!!

  3. proreason says:

    An interesting fact about tax burdens has been revealed recently in the Health Scare debate.

    We are all paying a massive hidden tax that results from Medicare and Medicaid.

    You all know that both of those huge programs pay doctors about 80% of what private insurance pays them.

    Did you know that the shortfall is made up by private insurance jacking up the fees we pay for health insurance (plus the direct costs of medical services). I’ve seen estimates that it’s as high as $8,000 annually for a family of 4. Now, many get their health insurance through their employer, and pay $100 to $200 a month, so it seems impossible to get to a $8,000 cost. Buth for them, the employer pays the rest, which is compensation to you, just as much as your salary is……so don’t think that you are skating on the $8K.

    Personally, $8K annually seems overstated, but I don’t doubt at all that the number is substantial. It’s a massive stealth tax that for most, is much larger than the 1.45% of salary you pay as the Medicare tax.

    In addition, it’s now being revealed that the additional medical costs we pay because of medical malpractice lawsuits is about $2,000 per family per annum. That one smells about right to me.

    A third hidden tax that everybody is aware of is that the cost of providing emergency room services to illegal immigrants and others is also recovered by the hospital and medical practitioners by jacking up their fees to everybody else. I haven’t seen an estimate of that yet, but it’s probably less than the costs of medical malpractice.

    So when you are complaining about the cost of your Health Care nowadays, be aware of the reasons why.

    If Medicare fraud was controlled (which it easily could be by prosecuting and jailing the con men) and Tort Reform was enforced, medical costs would drop by a lot.

    I wonder how many other hidden taxes we pay? Other than the looming crushing load of Cap and Tax, that is.

  4. proreason says:

    The canard of high infant mortality in the U.S. is punctured by Steve Chapman.


    Basically, the reason the U.S. ranks 29th in infant mortality boils down to one factor…..teenage births result in low birth-weight babies that results in higher mortality.

    Read the article for the details.

    We all know instinctively that the high infant mortality rate can’t be attributed to the best medical system in the world. Now you can have the information to prove it.

  5. proreason says:

    Don’t read this if you think it’s a great thing to give medical services to illegal immigrants.


    Hint: what state do you think estimates it gives away $140 Million in free medical services annually…..in just the most southern part of the state?

    Hint 2: did you know that if an illegal woman gives birst to a baby in the U.S. the baby is instantly a citizen, and the mother instantly qualifies for welfare? Doesn’t matter if she has only been in the U.S. for 1 day or years.

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