Reflecting on his party's newly failed legislative attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., said the bill had "K Street's fingerprints on it."
"A lot of the lobbyists knew what was in both the House and Senate bill before members of Congress knew what was in the bill," DeSantis revealed in a Tuesday interview with the Washington Examiner.
The Florida Republican, who supported the House version of the bill when it passed in May, said, "It wasn't like it was a clean break from what goes on in Washington."
"In the healthcare bill, it was clear that there was a lot of work with the insurance companies on this bill, and the insurance companies have benefited from Obamacare," DeSantis explained. "They really support a government-centered system where government is keeping competition out of their marketplace."
He's right. A Washington Examiner investigation in March found that the top two industry donors to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce were health professionals and pharmaceuticals/health products. On the Ways & Means Committee, health professionals ranked second among industry contributors, donating $4.4 million to committee members during the 115th Congress, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
"Any time government becomes a major player in any of these industries," DeSantis said, it's "very difficult ... to see that the stakeholders that are there now have much in the way of competition."
"You see it in banking, you see it in health insurance and you can go down the line," the third-term congressman contended.
Asked to comment on the GOP's relationship with K Street, DeSantis answered, "Unfortunately, I think that that's been an issue that the Republicans who've been up here a long time, I don't think that the relationship is where it necessarily should be."
But it's not all bad news for Republicans, according to DeSantis. As he dug deep into how the Washington establishment — members of the media, the permanent political class, Democratic politicians — stacks the deck against limited-government conservatives, the congressman offered a solution to that persistent dilemma. "I think when you have those forces aligned against you," he said, "what you have to do is get the folks out in the rest of the country to think you have their back."
"You can do that, it's harder," DeSantis explained. "But if you're showing that it's not a K Street-written bill or things like that, that actually could be helpful."
Emily Jashinsky is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.