As if we weren’t already aware that our nation’s experiment in ‘government by the people, for the people, and of the people’ hasn’t gone wildly astray, here’s a news item that more clearly explains the problems facing average Americans as they try to take back their government from the corrupt politicians and corporations that are turning back the hands on the clock of time to a place we thought we’d put behind us years ago.

According to an article in The Tennessean, Senate majority leader Bill Frist (R) and House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R) engineered a backroom legislative maneuver to protect pharmaceutical companies from lawsuits.

In language tucked into a Defense Department appropriations bill, AT THE LAST MINUTE and WITHOUT APPROVAL OF A HOUSE-SENATE CONFERENCE COMMITTEE, Frist and Hastert proposed giving immunity to companies that develop vaccines in the event there is a declared public health emergency. Basically, what they are asking is that their big pharmaceutical donors be immune from any repercussions arising from their producing, marketing, and dispensing vaccines or other health “countermeasures” that result in serious harm or death to users of said product.

Aside from the obvious pandering to high money donors at the expense of the ‘real American’ citizens, there is another issue at stake here, namely the fashion in which this language was slipped into the bill itself.

From the article: “some say going around the longstanding practice of bipartisan House-Senate conference committees’ working out compromises on legislation is a dangerous power grab by Republican congressional leaders that subverts democracy.”

While apparently not illegal, it is highly unusual for tactics such as these to be used as they ameliorate the entire reason for compromise committees to meet in the first place.

And the text of the inserted bill was reportedly written by representatives for the pharmaceutical industry and given to the lawmakers for insertion. It is somewhat germane to remind readers that Frist has received over $270,000 in campaign donations from the pharmaceutical industry since 1989.

Several problems are presented here: (a) lawmakers apparently are not writing laws themselves, but letting donors and staffers do this work, a total shirk of their actual job. They seem to have come to the conclusion that we vote them into office to collect donations that will keep them there instead of working out legislation that protects and promotes the average American’s concerns; (b) lawmakers are routinely tricked by their own leadership when it comes to working out legislation. According to the report, members of the bi-cameral committee were told that this bit of legislation was NOT in the final bill. They left the meeting only to return to the floor to vote on the bill that then included the language in question; (c) large corporations are buying off elected officials to create situations for themselves that no average citizen could get away with, such as blanket immunity for creating faulty products or services; (d) omnibus bills that contain legislation that is not even remotely related to the main thrust of the bills are common place these days and dilute the oversight power of individual members or watchdog groups until it is too late to change things.

This law was signed by the president on December 30th, 2005. So if by chance you get a bad batch of vaccine for any reason, too bad for you. You have no recourse against the makers of the vaccine for your or your loved ones ill effects.

And all this in the name of protecting America and of government for the people.

Oh yes…this piece of information came to light because of complaints by a Republican staffer, so sorry GOPers, can’t blame this on the ‘liberal media bias.”

(cross posted at Bring It On)