Everyone lies, at least a little bit, once in a while. Politicians, on the other hand, routinely speak without any regard for whether what they’re saying is true. The purposes they have for saying things is much more varied and strategic than normal, balanced people.
So there’s something of an art to listening to them. Most of the time, especially in the middle of an election, clearly explaining their actual objectives and motivations is among the last priorities of someone like Hillary Clinton. But there are times when she needs to communicate with certain audiences.
I want to draw your attention to remarks made last week by Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Burwell is a quintessential Democratic insider with that toxic mix of left-wing policies, globalist “post-American” elitism, crony-capitalist personal enrichment and raw power.
If Hillary says something at a campaign rally, it may be true, it may be complete hogwash. On the other hand, when Burwell tells an audience at the Atlantic’s Washington Ideas Forum that she supports price controls on pharmaceutical drugs, well, that might be the difference in whether you get the drugs you need in three or four years.
Long before she worked for Obama, Burwell worked for the Clintons, starting with their first presidential campaign in 1992.
“The relevant thing you need to know about her biography is that she worked extensively in the Clinton administration,” liberal blogger Matthew Yglesias wrote when she was initially appointed by Obama.
How much did the Clintons trust Burwell? On the night Vince Foster committed suicide, it was her job to go through his trash, prompting questions from congressional investigators when it emerged she had ordered a batch of the most sensitive documents destroyed.
More importantly, Burwell was a protege of Robert Rubin, eventually ascending to his chief of staff when he led the Treasury Department.
Rubin is one of the most powerful and connected Democrats on the planet. He joined the Clinton White House a co-chairman of Goldman Sachs. Following his stint in government he became director of Citigroup and was paid hundreds of millions of dollars until he resigned in the aftermath of the global financial crisis in 2008.
Hardcore left-wingers actually blame the financial crisis on Rubin because he deregulated some exotic financial instruments at Treasury. In reality, his actions had far more to do with enriching his network of allies than any kind of ideological deviation from liberalism.
One episode is representative: in 2001, he got caught trying to call in a favor from an acquaintance at the Treasury Department: would this official, Rubin asked, pressure the rating agencies not to downgrade Enron’s debt? Citigroup was a major creditor to Enron, making the request wildly inappropriate, especially for a former secretary.
So Burwell is HHS Secretary, but she’s not just that. She’s a high-ranking member of one of the most powerful factions of the global transnational elite.
She’s on the Council of Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission and countless corporate boards. She’s close with Jack Lew at Treasury, another Rubin acolyte. She advises Bill Gates. When Wal-mart decided they needed to appease liberal politicians following skirmishes with the unions, they paid Burwell over a million dollars a year to decide who needed payoffs from their “charitable foundation.” (The answer: the National Council of La Raza, the Center for American Progress, and the Tides Center, among others).
All of which is why Burwell’s remarks last week are so important.
The government, she said, needs the ability to “negotiate…on the high cost of specialty drugs.”
The joke here is that the Congressional Budget Authority and every other expert that’s ever looked at this policy has said the government would save zero dollars from “negotiating” prices. The prices are market rates set by supply and demand.
The actual thing the left has always been after is rationing prescription drugs, and, more generally, health care. Rationing is how every single payer system in the world saves money, and it’s how governments allocate resources when they take over industries from the free market.
It means you wait in long lines, and it means a bureaucrat in Washington decides whether a new drug is “worth” the government buying, not based on its medical efficacy – but its cost.
Look, let’s be honest. Bernie Sanders can demand drug price controls as part of his free everything plan and it really doesn’t worry me in the slightest.
Burwell is different. This was Clinton’s way of send the elites a message. If she wins in November, unless Congress can stop her: health care rationing is coming.