Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Senator from Wellpoint

Bill Moyer did some excellent research into the corruption that pervades the US Senate.

baucus bought On Tuesday, October 13, the Senate Finance Committee finally is scheduled to vote on its version of health care insurance reform. And therein lies yet another story in the endless saga of money and politics.

In many polls, the majority of Americans favor a non-profit alternative -- like Medicare -- that would give the private health industry some competition. So, if so many of us, including President Obama himself, want that public option, how come we're not getting one?

Because the medicine that could cure our health care nightmare has been poisoned from Day One - fatally adulterated, thanks to the infamous Washington revolving door. Movers and shakers rotate between government and the private sector at a speed so dizzying they forget for whom they're supposed to be working.

If you've been watching the Senate Finance Committee's markup sessions, maybe you've noticed a woman sitting behind Committee Chairman Max Baucus. Her name is Liz Fowler.

Fowler used to work for Wellpoint, the largest health insurer in the country. She was its vice president of public policy. Baucus' office failed to mention this in the press release announcing her appointment as senior counsel in February 2008, even though it went on at length about her expertise in "health care policy."

Now she's working for the very committee with the most power to give her old company and the entire industry exactly what they want -- higher profits-- and no competition from alternative non-profit coverage that could lower costs and premiums.

A veteran of the revolving door, Fowler had a previous stint working for Senator Baucus -- before her time at Wellpoint. But wait, there's more. The person who was Baucus top health advisor before he brought back Liz Fowler? Her name is Michelle Easton. And why did she leave the staff of the committee? To go to work -- surprise -- at a firm representing the same company for which Liz Fowler worked -- Wellpoint. As a lobbyist.

You can't tell the players without a scorecard in the old Washington shell game. Lobbyist out, lobbyist in. It's why they always win. They're been plowing this ground for years, but with the broad legislative agenda of the Obama White House -- health care, the economic stimulus, energy, financial regulatory reform, the Employee Free Choice Act and more -- the soil has never been so fertile.

The health care industry alone has six lobbyists for every member of Congress and more than 500 of them are former Congressional staff members, according to the Public Accountability Initiative's LittleSis database.

They want a public option about as much as you want the swine flu, so just to be certain, Congress sticks with the program, the industry has been showering megabucks all over Capitol Hill. From the beginning, they wanted to make sure that whatever bill comes out of the Finance Committee puts for-profit insurance companies first -- by forcing the uninsured to buy medical policies from them. Money not only talks, it writes the prescriptions.

In just the last few months, the health care industry has spent $380 million on lobbying, advertising and campaign contributions. And -- don't bother holding onto your socks -- a million and a half of it went to Finance Committee Chairman Baucus, the man who said he saw "a lot to like" in the two public option amendments proposed by Senators Rockefeller and Schumer, but voted no anyway.

The people in favor of a public alternative can't scrape up the millions of dollars Baucus has received from the health sector during his political career. In fact, over the last two decades, the current members of the entire finance committee have collected nearly $50 million in contributions from the health sector, a long-term investment that's now paying off like a busted slot machine.

Not that we should be surprised. A century ago, muckraking journalists reported that large corporations and other wealthy interests virtually owned the United States Senate -- using bribery, fraud and sometimes blackmail to get their way. Jokes were made about "the Senator from Union Pacific" or "the Senator from Standard Oil."… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Huffington Post>

Standard Oil has now been broken up, as most of our largest corporations should be.  But now we have a Senator from Wellpoint.  BARF (the Baucus Against a Real Fix bill) needs to be thrown on the ash heap to pass a bill with a strong public option.  If you need convincing, watch this.  If you don’t, watch it anyway.


To view all the videos I have uploaded to You Tube, Click Here.


the walking man said...

Grayson answered for me. No it's not the one he is now famous for this is the next one.

Sue said...

Tom this is an eye-opening post for sure, Fabulous job my friend!! Its friggin horrendous and I'm thankful FINALLY we have hope around the corner. I'm a realist, I know there is so much greed and corruption and its on both sides, but we elected Obama to change that and I'm ready to see some real changes!

RealityZone said...

We shall have to see where this ends up. imo; The insurance corps. and big pharma are helping to write this legislation. Until we have real term limits, and tax-payer funded elections. This oligarchy will continue. As i always say " they select, so we may elect."

Complaint Department Manager said...

If Baucus(not a very big "if" there) loses his seat in the next election, it will be mainly attributed to this. This is NOT the kind of progressives we need in office, they shame us all.

TomCat said...

Mark, I almost posted that video this morning, but I figured it would be up everywhere.

Thanks, Sue. I am too. I figure we;ll know when the Conference committee cobbles the final bill together.

RZ, I hate to burst your bubble on term limits, but they won't work. A fellow in Athens named Solon already tried that around 600 BC. Instead of selling out for campaign contributions, as they do now, Senators and Representatives would sell out for the promise of employment after their terms expire.

C, you hit the nail on the head. He needs to be challenged in the primary, and if he wins there, I'd seriously consider supporting the Republican. If we're getting a wolf from ND, better one wearing a wolf skin.

RealityZone said...

TC; they are getting the contributions, and the future [lobby] employment promises now. this is the bubble of democracy that has been burst, not mine. lol

Stimpson said...

If only a thermometer were the only thing thing these "health care" people were trying to shove up your fundament.

TomCat said...

I agree, RZ. I was just saying that term limits is not the solution. To fix it we need publicly financed campaigns.

TomCat said...

Stimson, well put. Or well stuck. ;-)

Hugh Jee From Jersey said...

Insurance companies and banks....the last of the true Robber Barons. After seeing that video I really don't know what to say, except its time for this garbage they're laying on the sick and dying- and their families- to stop.

We need more Alan Graysons...and one fewer Max Baucus on The Hill.

TomCat said...

Hugh, I'd love it if Grayson could move to Montana and unseat Baucus. :-)