Why Corporations Get Theirs In Every Legislation

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One Congressman says worriedly to another, walking briskly down to the House Floor, "Is my face red? I spent the whole morning in session with our Chinese lobbyist. Great deal. But, God, I hope it doesn't show."

National Journal reports in an article entitled, Under The Influence, that during the year of the Health Care Reform debate 2009, "The Chamber [of Commerce] spent $123.3 million on all lobbying activities, compared to $62.3 million in 2008, according to lobbying disclosure forms."

The top 15 dollar contributors to lobbying in 2009 were:

  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce $123,306,000

  • PhRMA $26,150,520

  • AARP $21,010,000

  • American Medical Assn. $20,190,000

  • Business Roundtable $13,410,000

  • American Hospital Assn. $16,300,000

  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield Assn.$8,860,000

  • America's Health Insurance Plans $8,850,000

  • Biotechnology Industry Org. $7,360,000

  • American College of Radiology Assn. $3,681,015

  • American Cancer Society Action Network $4,144,000

  • Federation of American Hospitals $3,790,000

  • National Federation of Ind. Businesses $3,146,276

  • American Dental Assn. $2,660,000

  • American Acad. of Family Physicians $3,193,850

The 2009 total for these lobbyists is $288,219,705 or, more than a quarter billion dollars. And that is just the top 15 lobbyists. There are thousands.

The following graphs come from the Center for Responsive Politics based on data from the Senate Office of Public Records:

graph, total lobby spending

graph, total number lobbyists

It is, therefore, no surprise that the heath industry insurers and providers were major beneficiaries of the health care law just passed? But, it is just as true, that all Americans with insurance, and those without it who want or need it or, will one day want or need it, are also beneficiaries of this new health care reform law.

So, who didn't benefit? Well, Republicans and all the rest of us. Sounds like a contradiction. Allow me to explain.

Republicans bet approximately half the nation's public trust on defeating this health care reform law, and they failed. They failed. The public, right or left leaning, is not in a mood to reward failure these days. Polls indicate they are aware of far more failure in our government than they would like to be. What realistic hopes the GOP had for taking control of one or the other House of Congress in November were diminished, not aided, by their promises to defeat this law, and failure to keep their promise. It is just another reminder of the Republicans 1990's campaigns to be fiscally responsible and when the power to be, they nearly doubled the national debt and ran deficits every year under the Bush administration and Republican control of Congress.

The rest of us, and more so, the younger of us in America, did not benefit from this new law for the duration of their adult work lives. While, they will now be guaranteed health insurance regardless of their ability to afford it, current and future generations remain saddled with an unresolved growing national debt, resulting from spiraling health care costs, that will bankrupt our government and most working Americans in less than 30 years. Unless, that is, some drastic measures are undertaken in the next 4 to 5 years to avoid it.

The majority of Americans, mostly Democrats and Independents had it right. They wanted to see either a universal single payer health insurance system or the Public Option implemented. Neither was.

Why did the majority of American registered voters want one of those choices? Very likely it is because the majority of Americans recognized that the only way to drive down all health care costs throughout the baby boom generations was to implement one of these two options. In essence, both of these alternatives would have paved the way for a non-profit health care industry and insurance system. Non-profit was the only way to rescue the future from the spiraling costs of Medicare and health care inflation in the decades before us.

President Obama and Rahm Emanuel never seriously entertained either of these options, choosing instead to retain intact and assist, the for-profit health industries. As a result, the future economic decline of America was not seriously addressed in this health care reform law that just passed. Republicans were right to estimate, based on past experience, that the savings CBO projected to deficits and debt by this new law, will prove to have been overestimated. The 1.2 trillion to be saved from deficits over the next 20 years will very probably end up being more like a few hundred billion or, less than half of that 1.2 trillion.

Congressional wealth graphBut, that is neither here nor there. Saving is saving. This new law however, does nothing to address the unfunded mandates of Medicare and Medicaid and so far, very little to curb spiraling for-profit health care industry prices. The issue of America's fiscal mismanagement, extended to the point of economic collapse has yet to be addressed. The prospect of economic collapse does not have the same impact, it would seem, on these very wealthy Congress persons, (wealth graph to the left) whose wealth acts as an insurance policy for them against such a coming collapse, the advent of which they will be privy to, long before the rest of working Americans are, allowing these wealthy politicians to adjust and protect their investments before the collapse actually arrives.

There are tell-tale signs of what is to come as a result of our growing national debt and growing national risk in this week's tepid response to the sale of 5 and 7 year Treasury bonds on the international market. The bond's prices had to be decreased and the interest payable (yield) increased in order to get investors to lend the government the money it needs to keep operating and floating its 12 trillion dollar national debt.

The day will come when the international investment community will no longer find lending to the American people and government a sound and acceptable risk investment, if our politicians cannot or, will not bring, our nation's fiscal situation into balance with its revenues and find a way to halt the growth of debt and borrowing. This is no easy feat for American politicians whose attention span is only slightly longer than Wall Streets with regard to personal gains. Wall St. focuses on the next quarter's and next annual profit and loss statements as a means of insuring their lofty salaries and golden parachute compensation packages.

Politicians in similar fashion are focused on the next election cycle in which they will have to defend their seat at the table of power in America. These focal points leave little room for making the long term economic sustainability of our nation and people a top priority. If it is not a top priority, it is not on the priority list when it comes to spending, taxation, and borrowing.

  • The key to understanding American politician's behavior, regardless of Party, is in recognizing that they fight over our tax dollars in ways to use those dollars, present and future, to buy our votes from us, to keep them in their positions in the government.
This is the root cause of all pork barrel and wasteful spending that only further damages our economic future.

In the news this week is the shut down of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste facility project, at a cost as high as 100 billion dollars when all the waste on this waste facility is totaled. The NY Times writes:

Scientific concerns have since emerged, including the realization that water flows through Yucca Mountain a lot faster than initially believed. That raises the prospect that the nuclear waste would leach over time, polluting the water table. The scientific merit of the site has not been established by independent judges.

Nevada has fought the project bitterly in court and in Congress. The ascension of Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, as Senate majority leader, and President Obama's campaign promise to stop the Yucca Mountain depository and look for alternatives may finally settle the question.

President Obama's proposed budget for 2009 cuts off most money for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste project, a decision that fulfills a campaign promise and wins the president political points in Nevada -- but raises new questions about what to do with radioactive waste from the nation's nuclear power plants.

As if the waste of 1/10th of a trillion dollars of tax payer money was not enough, contrary to all sound business practice for such expensive experimental projects, we find that there was never any alternative plan established to make use of the facility should the experimental project for nuclear waste prove to be unsuccessful. Senator Harry Reid said on Feb 8, 2010, "We should be able to use it for something ... other than nuclear waste." At least he is honest about this being an afterthought, in total disregard by former Congress persons for the tax payer's hard earned dollars.

It is only in the wake of shutting down the budget for Yucca Mountain that Congress is beginning to speculate on possible alternative uses of this massively expensive hole in the ground. Had Congress decades ago, acknowledged the possibility that this experimental project might not prove viable, they could have authorized alternative engineering plans, that would have insured during the construction phase, the installation of alternative use infrastructure at minimal additional cost.

If and when Congress decides on an alternative and productive use of the facility in the future, the retrofit costs will be many times what they would have been to tax payers, had this second purpose plan been implemented throughout the years of construction. But, our politicians were not concerned about saving tax payer dollars with contingency plans. They were concerned about satisfying corporate lobbying interests who assured them this project would be a piece of cake, no worries, just give us unlimited funding and we will make this work for you and your next reelection.

This marriage between our representatives and corporate interests whose ONLY interest is profits at tax payer expense, must end in forced divorce. And the only judge to enforce such a divorce is the voters of the United States. If the voters have had enough of getting the short end of every legislative spending stick, they absolutely must refuse to reelect these incumbent politicians who thrive on the marriage. When enough voters subscribe to this divorce, the challengers who are elected instead will become all too aware that their tenure too will be short lived if they fail to produce vastly better results for the voters and tax payers supporting this government.

Our colonialists rejected being ruled by kings, aristocrats, monied blood lines, and the super wealthy of their day as criteria for powerful office. Though, they were concerned by the potential of mob rule by the uneducated and illiterate masses they, nonetheless, saw the necessity of empowering the people to choose their representatives in the House of Representatives. And later, with amendments, the people and their leaders saw it, as important to our democratic process, to place the selection of our Senators, and their removal from office, also in the hands of the voting public.

The judgment day has arrived to test whether the American voters are capable of electing and removing their representatives by their own common sense and wisdom, or, succumb to mob mentality which hangs on every word of sloganeering and sophistry of their representatives and their Party. Partisan politician's top priority is not to represent those who elected them but, to insure their own perpetual reelection and access to power.

America's future truly, and concretely, rests in the hands of the voting public. They can continue to vote for the failures and reelection of their representatives, while blaming all the other representatives for the failed status quo. Or, they can accept the responsibility of their vote to remove their own representatives, and keep doing so, until the collective Congress divorces the corporate lobbyist world, and marries the voters and tax payers of this nation as a true and faithful partner.

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on March 26, 2010 4:05 PM.

Health Care Reform To Pass Into Law was the previous entry in this blog.

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