House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the first time yesterday suggested she may be backing off her support of the public option. According to CNN, Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid "said they would support any provision that increases competition and accessibility for health insurance - whether or not it is the public option favored by most Democrats." When "asked if inclusion of a public option was a non-negotiable demand -- as her previous statements had indicated Pelosi ruled out any non-negotiable positions," according to CNN. This was also corroborated by the Associated Press, and by Pelosi's own words, as quoted in those stories.
This announcement came just hours before Steve Elmendorf, a registered UnitedHealth lobbyist and the head of UnitedHealth's lobbying firm Elmendorf Strategies, blasted this email invitation throughout Washington, D.C. I just happened to get my hands on a copy of the invitation from a source - check out this OpenLeft exclusive:
From: Steve Elmendorf [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Friday, September 11, 2009 8:31 AM
Subject: event with Speaker Pelosi at my home
You are cordially invited to a reception with
Speaker of the House
Thursday, September 24, 2009
6:30pm ~ 8:00pm
At the home of
2301 Connecticut Avenue, NW
To RSVP or for additional information please contact
Carmela Clendening at (202) 485-3508 or email@example.com
GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS SOLUTIONS
900 7th Street NW Suite 750 Washington DC 20001
Again, Elmendorf is a registered lobbyist for UnitedHealth, and his firm's website brags about its work for UnitedHealth on its website (Elmendorf was also a chief of staff for Democratic Minority Leader Dick Gephardt).
The sequencing here is important: Pelosi makes her announcement and then just hours later, the fundraising invitation goes out. Coincidental? I'm guessing no -- these things rarely ever are.
I wrote a book a few years ago called Hostile Takeover whose premise was that corruption and legalized bribery has become so widespread that nobody in Washington even tries to hide it. This is about as good an example of that truism as I've ever seen.