Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Congress: Bought and Paid For

After watching two of the three senate committee hearings that dealt with heath care, I was reminded of a saying I once heard but for the life of me I can’t remember where I heard it: There is nothing more reliable than a man whose loyalty can be bought for hard cash.  That pretty much sums up what passes for democracy in the United States at this time.  I often tell my students, half in jest (although the humor often escapes them) that if democracy worked for the benefit of the people it would be illegal.


Some background is in order in case you missed the hearings. 


President Obama and the Democratic congressional leaders have promised that they are going to fix our broken health care system.  Finally.  After all, it has only been sixty years since President Truman tried to initiate a system that would cover every person in the country rather than leave 45 million people without health care and another 50 million underinsured.  23,000 people die every year in the United States because they do not have health insurance.  Millions of people have said, “enough is enough.  We must have a system that covers everyone.” 


Health care is the talk of Washington and the airwaves.  Obama and the insurance companies announced at the White House that the benevolent health care industry has agreed to cut health care costs by 1.5 percent over the next decade, saving $2 trillion.  Mind you they also exacted a price:  government will keep its hands off health care’s billions and billions of profits. 

On capital hill the congress is holding hearings to devise ways to expand the broken system we have now: higher premiums; higher co-pays; higher deductibles while 14,000 workers loose their health care every day in this depression.  Congress invited representatives of the health care industry, insurance companies, big pharma, and just about anyone who would reap profits from maintaining the current system to speak.  They talked, and talked, and talked.


But some alternatives were not being talked about at all except by demonstrators whom the capital police hauled away and arrested.  Their crime?  To demand that representatives who favor a publicly financed, single-payer health care system be allowed at the table.  Those filthy pinko, commie, fags.


Why is single payer not at the table?  Members of the House and Senate are being loyal.  The loyalty of members of the House and Senate have been bought for hard cash.  The health care industry, which spent more than $500 million dollars in the last year on lobbying and campaign contributions, has great faith in the reliability of  the members whom they have bought.  Max Baucus, the chair of the Senate committee, received more money from the health care industry than any other member of congress.  Every other member of the committee also received money from the industry.


“In 2003,” Bill Moyers reported last week, “a young Illinois state senator named Barack Obama told a local AFL-CIO meeting, ‘I am a proponent of a single-payer universal health care program.’  There was only one thing standing in the way, Obama said six years ago:  ‘all of you know we might not get there immediately because first we have to take back the White House, we have to take back the Senate and we have to take back the House’”


Democrats now have the White House and the Senate and the House.  What the hell happened to single-payer universal health care?


Change we can believe in I guess.

1 comment:

Michael said...

That quote at the beginning of your post is from the film "The Ninth Gate." Cheers