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Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Whose Government Is This Anyway?

As Sharon Theimer of the AP reports here, corporations who won valuable contracts to provide the new Medicare drug cards spent over $35 million lobbying in 2003. In addition, many of the industry's executives and lobbyists have contributed or raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for President Bush's re-election efforts. One particular executive, president Alan Lotvin of Medco (a part of pharmaceutical giant Merck until last year), helped organize a $100,000 fund-raising event for Bush only a few weeks after his company was named by the Administration as one of the drug card providers.

This kind of article usually gets the reform vultures circling. "Influence!", they cry. "Access! Our government is for sale!" But let's give the Bush Administration the benefit of the doubt, and assume that industry's contributions to his campaign coffers had nothing to do with the new Medicare policy or which companies benefited.

It's still a big problem for our democracy.

Here's why: the Bush Administration's policies are obviously good for Medco and others in the industry. They want him in office for another four years. So, they shoot big money into his campaign coffers, increasing his chances of getting elected.

But what about the rest of us?

What if, gasp, we don't necessarily agree with the pharmaceutical or Medicare card industry, and we think someone else should be in office? Most of us aren't rich. We can't afford to give $2,000 to anybody. We give less, therefore we have less of a say in who gets elected.

That ain't right.

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