How many seats at the table can be bought Senator Obama?

Democrats, independents and Republicans who are tired of the division and distraction that has clouded Washington, who know that we can disagree without being disagreeable, who understand that, if we mobilize our voices to challenge the money and influence that stood in our way and challenge ourselves to reach for something better, there is no problem we cannot solve, there is no destiny that we cannot fulfill. Our new American majority can end the outrage of unaffordable, unavailable health care in our time. We can bring doctors and patients, workers and businesses, Democrats and Republicans together, and we can tell the drug and insurance industry that, while they get a seat at the table, they don’t get to buy every chair, not this time, not now.

Barack Obama’s Post New Hampshire Primary Speech

So how many seats can they buy Senator Obama?  Am I being picky?  I mean, why does he chose the word buy rather than give?  The American people should not have to “buy” a seat at the table, should they?  This struck me as an important word to pay attention too (pun intended).

Is it a slip?  I mean, was it on purpose or was he just not thinking?  Haven’t we had enough of big corporations buying their seats at the table?  And aren’t they buying their seats with our money?  Nataline had health insurance and she was refused treatment, where does that money go?  Is that to “buy” a seat at the table?

According to Miles Mogulescu at the Huffington Post, this is a common phrasing for Obama. 

Obama’s political strategy is quite consistent with such financial backers. One of his big applause lines is “The insurance and drug companies can have a seat at the table…they just can’t buy all the chairs.”

John Edwards responds that “some people argue that we’re going to sit at the table with these people and they’re going to voluntarily give their power away. I think it’s a complete fantasy; it will never happen.” If Obama thinks the way to bring change to Washington is for a bunch of insiders to sit around the table with the corporate special interests, he is dreaming. These special interests are all about using their money and power to manipulate the government to increase their bottom lines. Insurance companies and drug companies are not interested in universal health care for all Americans. Big energy companies are not interested in developing alternative fuels, capping greenhouse gases, or ending America’s reliance on oil. Hedge fund managers are not interested in having their billion dollar incomes taxed at a marginal rate of 28% like the wage income of the companies they invest in, instead of at the special rate of 15%. Edwards will use the bully pulpit of the Presidency to mobilize the American people to take on these special interests in the name of the public good. He is the most progressive major party candidate since Bobby Kennedy, perhaps since Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Obama does receive money from insurance companies, right?  We’ve seen these graphs before and I know none of the candidates are pure, it’s just not possible.  But I want to know how to buy a seat and much it costs.  I think Obama supporters bring up a very valid point and it was unfair to use donations to the campaign (This is from the Daily Kos where I cross posted).  My main point is about the usage of the word buy. Maybe it’s time that no one should have to “buy” a seat at the table at all.

Many of us just can’t afford to pay anymore than we already are, in our taxes, our insurance premiums, gas prices and falling wages.  John Edwards understands that so many have already paid the price for these corporations seats at the table.  How many go without health care?  How many have died with health care?  And how many of us already believe we’ve paid enough that we should get our own seats?

As Edwards has said, “Will these people voluntarily give their power away?” (HT to NCD Amy at the Daily Kos).


No.  So why should we give them, let alone let them “buy” a seat at the table when they leave no room for the millions of Americans with out health insurance, millions of American who have to chose to either pay for heating oil or food and the millions of Americans who have to chose if living is more expensive than dying.  John Edwards knows that letting these people buy seats at the table has gotten us no where except politicians who now rely on this corporate money to keep their political careers afloat.

And I want to know, how much does my daughter have to pay to get a seat at the table?  Because how much is it going to cost us in negotiating with these people?  I think John Edwards would agree that Americans have already paid enough.  It’s time to fight and it’s time we had a President who wants to fight on our behalf, to fight for those who have not been heard and who have paid the highest price of all.

John Edwards is asked to describe one of his greatest Senate accomplishments – the Patients’ Bill of Rights. He goes on to talk about the personal nature of his lifelong work, fighting against powerful insurance companies and special interests. “We need a president who believes deeply in this battle.” Recorded during the Democratic Debate sponsored by ABC News, WMUR, and Facebook on Saturday, January 5, 2008.


  10 comments for “How many seats at the table can be bought Senator Obama?

  1. OCDemoGirl
    January 10, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Rather nitpicky, Heather. Why don’t you focus more on why I should vote for Edwards than picking apart the words of Obama? Cause at this point, the Senator from Illinois has my vote. But I haven’t received my absentee ballot yet…

  2. rebecca
    January 10, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    Heather, I think you misunderstood: he’s saying the big corporations buy their way now; they won’t get to do it in the future.

  3. January 10, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    Heather, This reminds me of Gertrude Stein’s assessment of Oakland: There is no there there. Methinks you read too much into it. Granted I’m the Obama guy, so I am partial but when I first heard him say that, it didn’t even register. Now that you highlight it, I must admit it appears merely to be a turn of phrase and doesn’t rise to the level of this much discussion.

  4. January 10, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    Good grief! The one Democratic presidential candidate who has a record of being bought off is Hillary Clinton. Remember when Bill pardoned all those criminals in return for donations to his trailer trash presidential library?

    If anyone is for sale it’s Hillary!

  5. Dan Chmielewski
    January 10, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    Art –
    your post is a non-sequiter; Hillary didn’t benefit from Bill’s pardons. You seem to forget, she was elected to the US Senate twice. Do yourself a favor and read her positions on the issues please. She is not her husband to her benefit and sometimes to her deterement. And just imagine the gall of the Red County/Flash folks once she takes office.

  6. January 10, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    Is this a serious post? I’m kinda thinking its a joke that I don’t get (that happens a lot).

  7. January 10, 2008 at 8:32 pm

    I got a lot of name calling over this one at the daily kos over this one. I was serious, I just don’t think I argued my point very well. If I tell my daughter she can’t by all the dolls, that that mean she can buy a few? I was being picky. I admitted it, but I was serious too.

    The insurance companies have been buying the show for too long and I don’t think they should get a seat at all. Why should the idiots who say underwriters decided medical decisions rather than patients and doctors merely because it’s more profitable. I could have argued this much better and probably not even talked about Obama and his comments, but I was serious.

  8. thesunkenroad
    January 10, 2008 at 9:38 pm


    You have a point. I just don’t see how the outrage can be isolated to Obama. In an administration run by any of these candidates, we can expect drug and insurance companies to have a place at the table. They’ll be paying for it in contributions–if not straight to your guy Edwards’ camp then to the DNC or some PAC of somebody he’ll feel indebted to for something. These campaigns are all so amazingly expensive for so long now that all these characters and their policy proposals are effected directly or indirectly by the money sloshing around. Somebody over at The Nation said that the winner in this primary season has been the change rhetoric in a populist tone. I agree, and Edwards is substantially to be credited for that. …but getting that victory has cost an unprecedented sum in campaign bucks… again. Those donors of all that cash will have a few chairs reserved at any table for any policy planning discussion convened by any of these candidates should any of them become president.

  9. January 11, 2008 at 1:33 am

    When the discussion about fixing the health care delivery system occurs, it is necessary that the insurance companies participate. That participation need not be predicated on their having “bought” any seats at the table. If they are not at the table participating in the conversation, we will be inundated with Harry and Louise and all their friends, neighbors, relatives and co-workers. On the other hand, we do need them to buy in to a workable solution that accomplishes the goals that you and I want. Then we will actually move forward. It’s a basic element of conflict resolution that all parties to the conflict contribute to — and through that contribution own a piece of — the solution.

    *Possibly* it is a poor choice of words by Obama to say the insurance companies “don’t get to buy every chair.” Possibly. Regardless, I do think that focusing on the one word or phrase obscures the real message which is that the insurance companies will no longer be able to call the shots. They will not be able to run the show. They will not dictate policy – no matter which Democrat is elected in November, Obama included.

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