New Republic - November 21, 2019

"The pressure on all sides in this town—institutional, ideological, financial—to accept the broad status quo is immense; candidates who make a habit of challenging the established order are rare. Many of the firms that work for the Partnership were started by or staffed with former members of Obama’s “Yes, We Can” brigade, with others going on to work for Amazon or Uber (orTheresa May). The ability of people who come to public service as righteous, justice-and-fairness-seeking liberals to transform themselves into dedicated laborers against the goals they once espoused is astounding, but every road in Washington is laid to funnel people toward that stupid, cynical end."

If you don’t live in Washington or work within the realm of politics or public affairs, you might not realize just how many people in this city have completely fake jobs. Obviously, my job is pretty fake too—I type things on the internet for a living, sometimes in my pajamas—but there are thousands of people here who are really completely useless, paid three times the median household income to engage in pure flimflammery. They go to work every day to construct false realities, to mislead the public on behalf of obscure paymasters. This is called Communications or Advocacy, but it is actually just Telling Lies.

A productive day could mean anything from ghostwriting an op-ed for some local schmuck to send to their local paper, to astroturfing a Twitter account, to buying Facebook ads for their real-sounding-but-totally-fake organizations—whatever will convince their funders they’re doing something with their money and not just reading about the new Game of Thrones pop-up bar. And then they go home, sometimes via a bland happy hour full of other useless suits, to their very nice apartments—$2,500 a month for a one-bedroom without sufficient counter space to chop an onion, but it has a really nice common room with a ping-pong table—and reflect: What a good day’s work.

These people are often not employed directly by the ersatz organizations to whose Twitter accounts they’re posting. Rather, they are on the payrolls of consulting firms or lobbying shops, which are underwritten by various organizations and corporations to influence public policy. On one day, they might work with a Democratic candidate who proudly claims they will fight for the middle class; on another day, they might work with McDonald’s. One of the most loathsome and slimy of these firms’ creations is the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, a coalition of health-industry groups—from big players in the insurance industry and the drug industry to those in the hospital industry and various local chambers of commerce—that was organized with the explicit intention of killing single-payer and the public option, which the Partnership lumps together as if they were remotely the same thing.

One of the group’s favorite talking points is that “whether you call it Medicare for All, Medicare buy-in, single-payer, or a public option,” a “one-size-fits-all system” is a bad idea. You may think this sounds a lot like the messaging that the health insurance industry deployed against the Affordable Care Act as the efforts to write that bill were in full bloom. Years later, however, it’s coming from the Partnership’s executive director: Lauren Crawford Shaver, a former Hillary Clinton staffer who works with some of the biggest Democratic firms in Washington. (At a Chamber of Commerce event on employee benefits in September, Shaver was on a panel titled “Public Option: The Next Big Threat to ESI,” which stands for employer-sponsored insurance.) This is not some defense against creeping socialism. Even a moderate squish like Joe Biden—or Michael Bennet, for crying out loud—supports a policy that these vampires will gleefully take hundreds of thousands of dollars to kill. ...
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