Howard Dean, Concerned American and Non-Shill

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Life in the private sector: nicer suits, more colorful hair.
Life in the private sector: nicer suits, more colorful hair. Photo: Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images

If you are old enough to remember when Howard Dean was running for president in 2004, excoriating fellow Democrats like John Kerry as a "handmaiden of special interests," it may be a surprise to find him opining in The Wall Street Journal today in favor of a repeal of the Independent Payment Advisory Board. IPAB is one of the reforms in the Affordable Care Act. It's a board of experts that recommends ways to save money in Medicare if the program's expenses run above a certain level.

Dean argues that IPAB can't work and thus that "getting rid of the IPAB is something Democrats and Republicans ought to agree on." He's Howard Dean, and he represents the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party! He also represents McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP, a Washington lobbying firm.

Dean's op-ed notes his affiliation in the tagline, but it doesn't say what his clients think about IPAB. For that matter, Dean has refused to disclose which firms he's representing on behalf of McKenna Long & Aldridge. It seems to be regular practice at the Journal editorial page to let retired Democrats lobbying for the health-care industry write op-eds calling for a repeal of parts of the law that reduce the industry's profit margin.

Dean's bio at his lobbying firm boasts, "With an extensive set of contacts nationally, Governor Dean is uniquely positioned to develop partnerships between industry stakeholders and local governments." No mention about fighting the handmaidens of special interests, alas.