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Monday, August 17, 2009

Double Agent Tom Daschle?

This is how Washington really works: Even a top liberal advocate for taking a strong stand against the insurance industry takes money behind the scenes from the insurance industry.
On Sunday, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who was once a nominee to be President Obama's Secretary of Health And Human Services, appeared on NBC's Meet The Press, playing the role of the liberal standard bearer, opposite Oklahoma conservative Sen. Tom Coburn. Daschle spoke out against insurers, praised the so-called "public option," and at one point framed the debate over health reform to host David Gregory this way:
Well, David, I guess the, the basic question is, are we building this new system for the American people or for the insurance companies? I mean, that's really the key question. How will they be better served?
Sounds like tough-talk from a man who was introduced on the show as "former Senate majority leader Democrat Tom Daschle, an informal adviser to the White House and author of 'Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis.' " Left unmentioned was the fact that Daschle, in his capacity as a high-paid consultant at the law firm Alston and Bird, is once again working closely with lobbyists for UnitedHealth, the largest U.S. industry player, aiding the company's effort to convince moderate Senate and House Democrats to, among other things, kill the public option and keep company profits high.
A couple weeks back, BusinessWeek reporters Chad Terhune and Keith Epstein confronted Daschle about his role playing both sides of the health care reform debate. (The entire piece, about how UnitedHealth has already won the health care reform war, is a must read.) Terhune and Epstein write:
(continues here at TIME)

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