Tag Archives: corporate influence

ET show podcast – Just a few things

Let’s cover just a few things that are on my mind today.

  • Occupy Wall Street – Why are the Republicans worried or nervous about this movement? Why aren’t they more worried about corporate influence on our political system? One of the stories currently circulating is that this organic movement was really started by George Soros. There’s actually no evidence to back this up, but since George Soros is one of the conservatives bogeymen, why not throw it out there?
  • Texas Governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry has introduced his “jobs plan.” It looks as if he’d like to give away a lot of our money to big oil. No surprises here. By the way, the House Republican plan, released several months ago, is only 10 pages long and that includes large pages of what are basically cartoons. The plan is a joke.
  • Michele Bachmann has publicly stated that she would like to revert back to the Reagan tax plan. Clearly she doesn’t understand that taxes were higher under Ronald Reagan than they are today.
  • Was Herman Cain‘s tax plan (“999 plan”) based on the computer game Sim City? Doesn’t his plan place a higher tax burden on the poor and middle class? Bachmann doesn’t like the plan.
What do you think about this format? Let me know. I’m extremely open to suggestions.

I'm mad as hell, so I'm going to lash out at everybody!

This seems to be the prevailing opinion in the country today. Everybody seems to be mad. Everyone seems to be on edge. The government is to blame. Conservatives are to blame. Independents are too fickle. Democrats are too liberal. We’ve heard every explanation under the sun. In my opinion, some of the explanations are simply outlandish and others miss the point entirely. The bottom line, as I see it, is that people are working hard and getting less and less in their take-home pay. Whatever monies they make cover less and less. This is the problem.

One of the more misguided efforts to fix our problems is an organization called Get Out Of Our House. Their plan is to simply replace every member of Congress. Of course, this idea has been embraced by FOX News (see video.)

It is hard to explain just how misguided this effort is. What makes every member of Congress inherently bad? Were they bad before they were elected to Congress? If so, how do we fix the election process so that we elect “good” people? On the other hand, could it be possible that “good people” were elected to Congress and then became bad after the election? None of these questions are asked by this organization. Of course, they don’t answer the questions either. It seems to me that you would need to at least investigate these questions before jumping to the conclusion that you need to replace everybody.

In my opinion, corporate influence over policy has increased over the last 30 years. If we look at the explosion in the number of lobbyists, this would suggest that corporations are paying more attention than individuals to what is going on in Congress. This may be the place to start. How do we decrease corporate influence over our political process? How do we make our elected representatives more responsible to the people instead of to our corporations? This is the fundamental question is facing America today. Let’s thoughtfully fix this problem. Lashing out in a fruitless effort to replaced everyone is foolhardy, to say the least.

Insurance Companies Tried to Rig the Game

This shouldn’t come as news to anyone. The health insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies have spent millions of dollars to try to stop, slow down or derail healthcare reform. A recent article in the National Journal has detailed some of the money spent. The sums are staggering. Some on Capitol Hill are calling for investigations. Why? We know that insurance companies have used every tool at their disposal because they had to. A robust national healthcare plan (public option) would cost the health insurance business billions of dollars. If they are found with their hand in the cookie jar, the American people will be — upset. From their standpoint, so what? It isn’t as if the American people are going to stop using health insurance.

This is why I’ve called for Progressives to stop trying to fix this healthcare legislation. Currently, it is unfixable. We’re fighting too many battles on too many fronts. Pass what we have right now. Then, fix corporate influence on government. Corporations are nothing more than piles of contractual agreements. In essence they are nothing but paper. Paper should not be allowed to have a say in how our government works. People should have a say. Andrew Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt took on big business and won. We have to do the same thing.

From McJoan:

The fallout from the National Journal article detailing how the health insurance industry bankrolled third-party efforts to kill the reform bill continues. To recap:

That money, between $10 million and $20 million, came from Aetna, Cigna, Humana, Kaiser Foundation Health Plans, UnitedHealth Group and Wellpoint, according to two health care lobbyists familiar with the transactions. The companies are all members of the powerful trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans.

The funds were solicited by AHIP and funneled to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to help underwrite tens of millions of dollars of television ads by two business coalitions set up and subsidized by the chamber. Each insurer kicked in at least $1 million and some gave multimillion-dollar donations.

“There’s no question that AHIP has quietly solicited monies from their members which were funneled over to the chamber for their ads,” said a source. The total donated by the health insurers, according to one estimate, was as much as one-quarter of the chamber’s total health care advertising budget….

The U.S. Chamber has spent approximately $70 million to $100 million on the advertising effort, according to lobbying sources. It’s unclear whether the business lobby group went to AHIP with a request to help raise funds for its ad drives, or whether AHIP approached the chamber with an offer to hit up its member companiesThe U.S. Chamber has spent approximately $70 million to $100 million on the advertising effort, according to lobbying sources. It’s unclear whether the business lobby group went to AHIP with a request to help raise funds for its ad drives, or whether AHIP approached the chamber with an offer to hit up its member companies

That’s led to call for investigations of the insurers. Wendell Potter argues that these investigations should occur before Congress passes this bill, a bill that reward the companies for their duplicity by sending them millions of new customers, most of whom will be forced into the deal. That’s unlikely to happen, but what the scandal can do is strengthen the hand of the House on two provisions: the national exchange and imposing anti-trust laws on the companies.

Ben Nelson insisted upon having the anti-trust exemption preserved, against the wishes of the a very large part of the Democratic Senate caucus. Lawmakers who have insisted on ending the anti-trust exemption have gained somemomentum with the revelation:

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and 18 Democratic colleagues released a letter calling for the final health bill to include a provision stripping the insurance industry of its exemption.

“There is simply no reason for health insurance and medical malpractice insurance companies to be exempt from Federal laws prohibiting price fixing, bid rigging, and market allocation,” the lawmakers wrote. “These acts hurt consumers, drive up health care costs, and should be prohibited in the health insurance industry, as they are in virtually every other industry.”
….
But major health insurance companies represented by AHIP say they are not at all worried about the Democrats’ threat to end their anti-trust exemption.

“We could care less,” said an industry source.

The industry source said that repealing the anti-trust exemption would impact property casualty insurers that share information to set rates. Large healthcare companies that have many policyholders would have enough internal data to operate without much disruption, the source said.