Obama Hires Fmr. Wellpoint Exec to Implement Health Care Law

by: David Sirota

Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 19:31


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 :: Obama Hires Fmr. Wellpoint Exec to Implement Health Care Law

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No wonder she's "always smiling." (4.00 / 7)
Gregg Levine at FDL: http://firedoglake.com/2010/03...

SEN. BAUCUS: We all want to thank so many people, unless we start mentioning couple three names we're in danger of offending people whose names are not mentioned. We all know that. And there will be appropriate time to make all the thanks and I will make mine so sincerely because I'm so grateful for all the hard work my staff has put in this.

And I want to single out one person. And that one person is sitting next to me, her name is Liz Fowler. Liz Fowler, my chief health counsel, Liz Fowler is, put my team together, my health care team, Liz Fowler worked for me many years ago, since left for the private sector then came back when she realized that she could be there at the creation of health care reform, because she wanted to, in certain sense that be her professional lifetime goal. She put together that white paper last November 2008, um, 87-page document which became the basis, the foundation, the blueprint from which almost all health care measures and all bills both sides of the aisle came from. She's an amazing person, she's a lawyer, she's a PhD, she's just so decent, she's always smiling, she's always working, she's always, always available to help any Senator or any staff. And I thank Liz from the bottom of my heart and in many ways she typifies, she represents all the people who've worked so hard to make this bill such an accomplishment.

I love that: she left for "the private sector."

By the way, Welcome Back, David. Good to see your stuff here.  


nice having you back david (4.00 / 9)
this item however isn't from "From the Department of You Just Can't Make This Stuff Up"

put it on the "Obama Administration Standard Operating Procedure" file...


Obama isn't anti- class war. (4.00 / 13)
He's just on the other side.

And he cross-posted this .. (4.00 / 5)
to TGOS ... and as usual .. he's causing heartache for the "Do No Wrong" crowd over there .. and the Sirota-haters as well .. it never ends!!

Welcome back David! (4.00 / 8)
Not only does the "nation's capital no longer see this kind of revolving door corruption as even mildly problematic." They don't see the results of this corruption as being problematic. Giveaways to private insurers are good for the economy because they promote good things like capitalism and Wall St. profits. Never mind what this has to do with actually giving people better healthcare.

Save Our Schools! March & National Call to Action, July 28-31, 2011 in Washington, DC: http://www.saveourschoolsmarch...

better health care is like better education... (4.00 / 2)
The more prayer and profit in it, the better.  

[ Parent ]
Looks like I'll be spending more time at OpenLeft (4.00 / 7)
I read your diary on DK and was (sadly) not surprised when I saw the Obama zealots swoop down to attack you (Team Rocket to the rescue!).

What they zealots fail to realize is that they probably do more harm to Obama than good. I've seen the consequences  of blind loyalty to a leader and I don't want to be a part of that.


For some reason the Kosbots have been low key lately (0.00 / 0)
Perhaps they're tiring of fighting it out with actual progressives, perhaps they've accomplished what they set out to do and are moving on to other missions, or perhaps the oil spill has seriously cut into their credibility. Dunno. But many of them are either gone, or else maintaining a much lower profile. Even the queen of pretty picture worship diaries hasn't been pumping out her one a day for a while.

Like the Deaniacs, Edwardsians and Clintonistas, they came and they will go. Real progressives see them for what they are, fools and plants.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
No, not really. (4.00 / 1)
The Obamabaggers still swarm into every diary they don't approve of, hijack it, and turn it into a pie fight.   It is impossible to have a real discussion over there because the "kids" behave so badly.   I really wish Kos and MB's would clean them out and return dkos to an adult blog.  

[ Parent ]
You're kidding....right? (0.00 / 0)
"I really wish Kos and MB's would clean them out and return dkos to an adult blog."

DK hasn't been an adult blog in four or five years.  Kos is regressing...not progressing (pun definitely intended!)  


[ Parent ]
Perhaps you're right (4.00 / 2)
Maybe I've just been tuning them out or have learned to avoid diaries where they do their thing. Which, I suppose, is their goal, to get people to self-censor to avoid getting attacked by them, so they don't have to be on 24/7 alert. I just took a look at Sirota's cross-posted diary there, and it was up to 1700+ comments (which slows my browser to a crawl), many of which were by bots.

And then there's this rebuttal diary in which the diarist imagines that he or she has debunked and discredited Sirota by showing how his logic fails, and in case that's not enough, they bring out the old "So you didn't get a pony, you purist" canard, in which anything can be defended so long as it contains a microgram of goodness in it and doesn't call for the eradication of kittens.

While most of them might be naive schmucks who've been sucked into the Obama cult, or centrist corporatist Dems pretending to be progressives, like Fowler and Obama, I have absolutely no doubt that some of them are astroturfing plants deliberately trying to stir up shit, divide the left, and silence dissent.

And Kos and MB know it, and yet do nothing about it, in fact have modified site policies to make it hard for members to push the bots out, because, I'm guessing, they don't want to turn off the large numbers of true believers who've joined the site (and bring in lots of ad revenue) since '08, and risk turning DKos into a bigger version of FDL. Instead, they've turned DKos into an establishment Dem blog, which continues to have good content, but isn't a force for progressive opposition anymore. And to be a progressive is to be in the opposition permanently.

By definition in fact. People who settle for "good enough" or even "good enough for now" make poor progressives, which is what these bots are. Either they're not fighters, or they're naive fools, or they're doing ok for themselves and literally have no concept of how the other 80% live. Or, they're bold and cunning imposters.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
I love your phrasing for describing (4.00 / 1)
the "rebuttal" diary:

...and in case that's not enough, they bring out the old"So you didn't get a pony, you purist" canard, in which anything can be defended so long as it contains a microgram of goodness in it and doesn't call for the eradication of kittens.

Exactly.


[ Parent ]
Brilliant move by Obama (4.00 / 3)
Step 327 of his 13,576 step master plan to put a unicorn in every garage (or is that pot?).

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

Mmm...unicorn stew (n/t) (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
Also (4.00 / 2)
ANYONE can get a Phd, acquire the label "expert" and master the outer trappings and nomenclature of SME (subject matter expertise). But, from personal experience, it doesn't mean squat about one's actual expertise and competence, let alone good intentions. Government and corporations are filled with well-polished hacks.

Don't believe me? Two words: Carly Fiorina.

No more cynical and soulless a generational cohort than the one that came of age in the 80's and 90's and are now poised to assume the topmost leadership roles in government and the corporate world. Hell, our president is specimen #1 and the best representative of this breed.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


Just curious.... (4.00 / 2)
When did you discover this?

"No more cynical and soulless a generational cohort than the one that came of age in the 80's and 90's and are now poised to assume the topmost leadership roles in government and the corporate world. Hell, our president is specimen #1 and the best representative of this breed."

I'm hoping your answer was before 2008 and that you were wise enough not to have voted for Obama.


[ Parent ]
Of course I voted for Obama (0.00 / 0)
As would have any responsible and sane progressive had the race been a lot closer than it thankfully was. Just because he's a horrible progressive didn't make the alternative in any way preferable. The path to wherever we want to take the country doesn't (or shouldn't) go through yet more far-right conservative insanity. I don't believe in a let the village burn down so we can rebuild it from scratch approach. That's political sociopathology. Literally, because it calls for the needless ADDITIONAL suffering of millions. Nor would I call for or support primarying Obama, because it won't scare him enough leftward to justify the very real risk of throwing the WH back to the GOP and President Palin/Romney/Paul (but if I can be convinced that I'm wrong on this, I'm open to changing my mind). You take what you can get now, and push to get more tomorrow.

Also, I was finally on to Obama when he flip-flopped on FISA. There were signs of it previously, but that sealed it for me, that he was an unprincipled and two-faced opportunist and liar. Whom I proceeded to vote for because the other people were dumber and crazier than a pack of rabid warthogs.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
Fool me once twice ... (4.00 / 1)
Everytime I think Obama really cares he sells us out again.  This seems to be his style.  Give things away then make an effort to make us think that it's not him to fault then sell us out again.

I really believe it's time to discuss how to run someone against Obama otherwise we just declare ourselves sheep.


What made you think he cared? (4.00 / 6)
Honest question.

[ Parent ]
What makes you think he's selling out? (4.00 / 1)
At this point I think that he's just a true believer in neoliberal center-right trickle-down corporatism and this is just another logical extension of that worldview. Never mind that this worldview doesn't work, or only works for a minority of people--and even then, only for a while, until it comes crashing down. He believes in it--or pretends to believe in it--and everything follows from this.

I used to think him a coward, or an extremely ambitious fake, who was willing to say and do almost anything to get to the top. I still do, in fact. But I now believe that this is all guided by an organizing economic and political ideology, i.e. neoliberalism, that informs or at least tries to justify the policies that he's pursued. He may or may not actually believe in this ideology, but functionally, he operates as if he does.

Personally, I'm guessing that while he might pretend to himself that he believes in neoliberalism, he probably actually doesn't, and that for him, as for many if not most neoliberals, neoliberalism is basically a way for massively ambitious people with a dimninished sense of social resonsibility, who aren't comfortable calling themselves conservative oligarchs and aristocrats or admitting to themselves that they don't actually like or care about others all that much, to pursue a conservative oligarchical and aristocratic agenda, while pretending that they're not.

I.e. neoliberalism is a way for closeted conservatives to pass as fake liberals, out of some weird psychological or social need. Although, it also makes for a cynically brilliant political strategy, in that it helps fake liberals get millions of other fake liberals, who aren't comfortable voting for open conservatives, to vote for them, all the while pretending to themselves that they're real liberals. Thus, neoliberalism isn't just (failed) economic policy, it's also a (perverse) psychological and social ideology, and a (brilliant) political strategy.

And whether they know it or not, these bots are diehard neoliberals posing as liberals.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
Does his imaginary true motivation make a difference somehow? (0.00 / 0)
It's okay to stop at:

He's lying through his teeth. Continuously.

(But I enjoyed reading your extremely smart & observant post).


[ Parent ]
Well sure. But Kovie's also done an excellent analysis (0.00 / 0)
of the political efficacy of the neoliberal lies.

[ Parent ]
It's unfortunately from personal experience (0.00 / 0)
I know too many of these fake left, run right types to have any illusions at this point. The only true lefties IMO are either people who have a personal stake in progressive politics and policies, or people of genuine conscience and decency and courage who aren't also crazy and stupid enough to fall for the superficial allure of modern conservatism or Randian libertarianism. The rest are lifestyle fairweather faux liberals who talk the talk but won't walk the walk, not because they can't, but because they won't--i.e. they that know it might cost them, financially, socially or professionally. Which is why they're faux liberals. Being genuine at something means being will to risk and sacrifice SOMETHING tangible for it.

And sorry, but slapping an "Obama/Biden '08" sticker on your Volvo is not that.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
Sure it matters (0.00 / 0)
How can you hope to push someone where you want them to go if you don't know where they're coming from? This isn't mere curiosity on my part (although I'll admit that it's also that, as motivation has always fascinated me), but a desire to know what makes Obama tick, so we can have a better chance of resetting his clock.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
well if we're speculating (4.00 / 1)
it appears the O! is about as left as... Reagan.

I think what he does matters, his words are close to useless, even in an age where they are so captured that we should be able to effectively haunt him with them- but, he seems to be far beyond the madding crowd.

I was afraid that empty "Change!" slogan meant "Status Quo!" & so it did.

btw, I really like your phrase here:

"to be a progressive is to be in the opposition permanently."

nice


[ Parent ]
It's partly laziness (0.00 / 0)
If the administration had sent out a press release saying, "Liz Fowler, former Wellpoint executive, to head Office of Insurance Oversight," I think that would've gotten mainstream media attention. Then again, maybe I'm being too generous.

eh... partly (4.00 / 3)
Never underestimate the power of laziness.

But you also have an ideology where reporters wouldn't consider this to be news.

And you have corporate ownership of media that would want to downplay this.

It isn't as if there is some evil billionaire with a thin, pointy mustache dictating exactly what laws to pass, who to hire, and how to report it.  Too bad, actually, as that would be much easier to fix.


[ Parent ]
aka blatant disregard (0.00 / 0)
they think it's normal  

[ Parent ]
The worst of both... (4.00 / 3)
"He is everything I feared Hillary would be", on top of his Bush.

Welcome back, David. (4.00 / 3)
You've been missed.

As for this new assignment for Liz Fowler, I've come to expect nothing less from Obama.  What we see is what and who he is.


Echoing the "wecome back" comments (4.00 / 3)
And here's some commentary by Glenn Greenwald, who doesn't seem surprised by the DKos backlash at Sirotab...

"I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that."
-Lawrence Summers


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