The revolving door between congress and the lobbying industry is well known. Former congressional representatives from both the House of Representatives and Senate have made lucrative secondary careers as lobbyists or special advisors to a variety of firms and industries. According OpenSecrets.org there are currently 434 former members of congress who are now high level lobbyists. At first glance, it’s a natural fit for them. They have the ability to connect people who want input into government decisions with the people who make those decisions. However, there is a less seemly side to it as well. It cements the ability of large, rich firms to promote their own interests via the back door while the rest of us are stuck trying to be heard up front.
The revolving door doesn’t stop with former members of congress; it extends to their staffs as well. Hundreds of congressional staffers move between lobbyists and congress. For many of them their jobs depend on their party holding power or their congressional boss being re-elected. The ability to shift to more stable and steady work in the private sector while keeping close connections to the political sphere is important for them. It helps them keep on top of the latest developments in their fields and even return to congress should the opportunity present itself.
The problem is that the revolving door makes it very difficult when change needs to happen. The people who are pushing against personal importation of prescription drugs might move from a lobbying firm to congress, or move the opposite way. This reinforces the status quo and prevents new ideas and new blood from suggesting changes. People who have worked for pharmaceutical companies are not likely to approve or push for the personal importation of prescription drugs.
The revolving door is one of the backbones of Washington’s political system. But for patients it’s a system that traps them in the cycle of super high drug prices. The revolving door prevents new ideas from getting the hearing they need. The personal importation of prescription drugs is an idea that is constantly beaten back by the revolving door elites. The only way to beat it that is for people to stand up and tell their congressional representatives they want personal importation opened up to everyone. You can do this by joining the Campaign for Personal Prescription Importation.