Monday, May 08, 2006

Lobbyist Influence a Good Thing

A report in today's The Tennessean, relying on what appears to be a press release by a group called "Public Citizen," attempts to make hay over a report that a lobbyist for the vaccine industry helped Senator Bill Frist with language for a bill that shielded vaccine manufacturers from some lawsuits.

MCO has a press release: this is not news.

People who pretend that all that lobbyists do is buy politicians' votes will be troubled by this. However, legitimate lobbyists provide valuable civic functions, including representing the real political interests of real American citizens before government. They also provide information and expertise to legislators. Anyone who has attended legislative hearings on complicated issues has seen legislators with deer in the headlight looks as they listen to detailed testimony. Neither legislators nor their staffs can be experts on all of the variety of issues that they deal with. Lobbyists on multiple sides of a given issue under consideration help such legislators with information that fills in their knowledge gaps.

As everyone knows, before Frist entered politics he was a physician. As a physician, Frist understood and believed that one of the barriers to access to adequate health care in modern America is the plethora of lawsuits filed by money grubbing, ambulance chasing, class action plaintiff's lawyers. Such lawsuits, which turn the inevitable one in 10 million adverse reactions to vaccinations into causes of action, threaten the existence of the vaccination industry in the United States. The lobbyist did not "influence" Frist; the lobbyist merely helped Frist craft language that would accomplish what he truly believes is necessary.

Those who want vaccinations to be readily available in the United States should be glad he did.


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