Thursday, December 26, 2013

Is the Center for American Progress a Front for Third Way Lobbyists?




John Podesta, former chief of staff to Bill Clinton, has not been a registered lobbyist since 2007. The firm is now headed by his brother, Anthony Podesta, who is still registered.

The interactive Muckety map above shows major companies that have contributed to CAP and also contracted with the lobby firm.

Podesta Group last year collected $27.4 million in lobbying fees from all clients. That amount included more than $2.4 million from clients shown in the map. (Dotted lines represent former relationships; solid lines are current.)

On their website the Podesta Group brags about 3 recent wins, which make more sense when you look at the Muckety chart above.

Win 1: They got the SEC to scrap recent pro-consumer reforms and allow clients like Bank of America to offer loans to small business at rates exceeding 35% through one of their front companies. This is how they describe it:
At the height of the credit crisis, the nation’s largest peer-to-peer lending company was abruptly shut down by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The company had facilitated $180 million in consumer and small business loans between hundreds of thousands of American borrowers and lenders over the Internet. They turned to the Podesta Group for help.
Gee they almost make usury sound almost respectable. Podesta's client, Prosper states on their website "Rates from 6.73% to 35.36% APR". You can bet most of the loans will be closer to 35.36% than 6.73%. Their gimmick is that they like to pretend they are some kind of "Kickstarter" bank. What they really are is a way for Bank of America to loan other peoples money out with no risk to themselves while still skimming fat profits off for themselves completely unregulated.

Win 2: They got the FCC to let AT&T use the 2.3 gigahertz band of wireless spectrum. This spectrum is very close to what SiriusXM radio uses, and there were legitimate concerns of interference. The FCC already ruled back in 2010 that WCS spectrum could be used for mobile broadband services, but AT&T says that the existing rules do not allow for efficient use of the spectrum, which would be crucial for its LTE services. This so-called win for AT&T is really a massive lose for the consumer by for solidifying duopoly status for AT&T and Verizon. The Competitive Carriers Association puts it this way:
Relaxing policies that safeguard competition has led to an excessive amount of consolidation in the wireless industry, ultimately to consumers' detriment. As the industry retreats step-by-step towards a stagnant duopoly, with two carriers dominating the marketplace, the FCC should undertake a holistic review of its rules and policies that effect mobile competition.
Win 3: They got a new cost control rule [bundled payment] scrapped for DaVita and Quest Diagnostics. Bundled payment, also known as episode-based payment, episode payment, episode-of-care payment, case rate, evidence-based case rate, global bundled payment, global payment, package pricing, or packaged pricing, is defined as the reimbursement of health care providers (such as hospitals and physicians) "on the basis of expected costs for clinically-defined episodes of care. Unlike fee-for-service, bundled payment discourages unnecessary care, encourages coordination across providers, and potentially improves quality.

A study done by the Rand Group estimates that switching Medicare to the bundled payment system would save taxpayers 5.4% annually. When you consider Medicares budget is $524 billion for 2013 we are talking on the order of billions in savings or in DaVita and Quest's case hundreds of millions in extra profits. This is how Podesta describes it:
Two of the nation’s largest health care companies came to the Podesta Group seeking assistance in pushing back on a provision in the health care reform bill that sought to sweep separately bundled end stage renal disease (ESRD) drugs, or dialysis drugs, into the bundled payment under Medicare.
When you consider the fact that the healthcare industry already has one of the highest profit margins around it makes their move even more nauseating.  American taxpayers spend more than $20 billion a year to care for those on dialysis. On average $77,000 per patient, that is considerable more than any other nation. Yet the United States continues to have one of the industrialized world's highest mortality rates for dialysis care. Hardly a clarion call to throw more money at DaVita and Quest. In fact together DaVita and Quest clear about $2,000,000,000 in profit from the dialysis market, with the lion share being paid for by the taxpayers.

Now ask yourself "Do these 3 examples sound in any way progressive?" From my point of view I hardly see any difference between what the Podesta Group does than say the NRA or Monsanto. In other words "Not Progressive". Despite what their Center for American Progress website advocates its actions like those mentioned above that have destroyed the 99% economically. Furthermore it's people like Podesta and President Obama that have destroyed the credibility of real progressives. In public they cry a river for the 99%, all the while covertly carrying the water for likes of Wall Street Banksters and the worst of Corporate America.

 

The FCC already ruled back in 2010 that WCS spectrum could be used for mobile broadband services, but AT&T says that the existing rules do not allow for efficient use of the spectrum, which would be crucial for its LTE services.

Read more at http://www.mobileburn.com/19901/news/att-petitions-fcc-to-use-wcs-23ghz-band-for-4g-lte-service#2IEWj8TtAqCUk8Jr.99

The FCC already ruled back in 2010 that WCS spectrum could be used for mobile broadband services, but AT&T says that the existing rules do not allow for efficient use of the spectrum, which would be crucial for its LTE services.

Read more at http://www.mobileburn.com/19901/news/att-petitions-fcc-to-use-wcs-23ghz-band-for-4g-lte-service#2IEWj8TtAqCUk8Jr.99

The FCC already ruled back in 2010 that WCS spectrum could be used for mobile broadband services, but AT&T says that the existing rules do not allow for efficient use of the spectrum, which would be crucial for its LTE services.

Read more at http://www.mobileburn.com/19901/news/att-petitions-fcc-to-use-wcs-23ghz-band-for-4g-lte-service#2IEWj8TtAqCUk8Jr.99

Suggested further reading:

http://news.muckety.com/2013/12/05/think-tank-critical-of-elizabeth-warren-has-many-corporate-connections/45161

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304337404579213923151169790

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