Businesses Push Health Care Agenda Before 2008 Election
Business lobbyists are hoping to "lock in policies backed by a pro-business administration" by "racing to secure final approval for a wide range of health, safety, labor and economic rules, in the belief that they can get better deals from the Bush administration than from its successor," the New York Times reports.
According to the Times, the Federal Register "typically grows fat with regulations churned out in the final weeks of any administration," but the push could be "unusually intense" in 2008 because Democrats after the election might control the White House and both chambers of Congress for the first time in 14 years.
According to the Times, "Few industries have more cause for concern than drug companies, which have been a favorite target of Democrats."
The Times notes that "Republicans run the Washington offices of most major drug companies," and former Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) is president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. PhRMA this year has hired three Democratic lobbyists, so the team now is evenly split between Republicans and Democrats.
In addition, business groups are lobbying the Bush administration to reconsider rules under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Changes could include limiting the definition of a "serious health condition" or establishing stricter rules regarding leave taken for chronic conditions.
According to the Times, "Even as they try to shape pending regulations, business lobbies are also looking beyond President Bush" by recruiting Democrats, while lobbyists, "expecting battles over taxes and health care in 2009, are pouring money into the campaigns of Democratic candidates for Congress and the White House" (Pear, New York Times, 12/2).