Monday, January 25, 2010

We Ain’t Seen Nuthin’ Yet

Here’s an interesting bit at Think Progress:
The Hill reports today that insurance companies — who have fought hard against health reforms like the creation of a new public health insurance plan — spent $38 million in 2009 to influence the direction of the health care debate. Here are some of the biggest spenders:

WellPoint: The Indiana-based insurer spent $4.7 million lobbying Congress last year, an increase of 21 percent from its expenditures in 2008.

UnitedHealth Group: The largest of all health insurance companies spent $4.5 million on lobbyists last year, an increase of 7 percent from 2008.

Humana: The insurance mega-company “showed the biggest increase in its lobbying spending among…insurers.” It spent $3.2 million lobbying in 2009, which is an 80 percent increase from 2008.

America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP): The health insurance industry’s lobbying group spent $8.9 million on lobbyists in 2009, a 20 percent increase from the previous year.

While health insurance companies spent generously on lobbying over the last year of the health care debate, their contributions are easily dwarfed by those of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber, which spent $123.3 million on lobbying in 2009, nearly double its 2008 expenditures, has vigorously fought progressive health reforms, climate change legislation, and progressive labor laws. Two weeks ago, insurers were revealed to be secretly funneling millions of dollars to the Chamber for anti-health reform ads. It is unclear, however, if the the Chamber’s $123 million lobbying total includes additional insurance industry money.

This was before the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. The Federal Election Commission, giving corporations the right to donate unlimited amounts of cash to the politicians of their choice. We ain’t seen nuthin’ yet. Let’s just drop the pretence that this country is anything, anything but the private fiefdom of wealthy corporations, and you, I’m afraid, are nothing but a tax-dollar, a vote, and a soldier. At one point, you could have added pack mule, but that designation has shifted to wage slaves in Asia and Latin America.