I'm in the camp of people who believes that health care is the single most important issue before Congress at the moment. Sure, the economy is in bad shape, but if people weren't having their homes foreclosed on them because they're swimming in medical bills the economy would be in a lot better shape.
Not surprisingly, the health care industry feels the same way. Which is why, according to the Washington Post, they're spending about $1.4 million dollars per day to influence our elected officials in Congress from their K Street offices.
It's being reported that 350 former government staff members and retired members of Congress are working to subvert the will of the people and the needs of the country.
Democracy is not designed to be for sale to the highest bidder.
How are the millions of Americans who can't even afford to pay for health care in the first place supposed to compete with the lobbying expenditures and campaign contributions of the "insurance" industry? We can't even afford a routine doctors visit most of the time, how are we supposed to curry the favor of our elected representatives? We simply can't compete.
We should be twice as angry about this because this is money they're spending that comes directly from the pockets of people paying them for their insurance to ensure that their coverage will not get any better and, more likely, probably worse.
I have few ideas that might help.
Firstly, we need to be calling and writing our representatives angry about this. We need to be demanding an investigation on how much damage this is doing to legislation and we need independent commissions to offer guidelines on what can be done to prevent travesties like this that undermine our democracy from happening. (No doubt they'll recommend making elections publicly financed, which is what Jim Hightower told us would fix most problems with government and policy when we interviewed him for our documentary, Killer at Large.)
Calling our representatives about this is only a first step (one I suggested on this topic last week).
The next thing we need to do if we're going to continue to allow companies to pump hundreds of millions of dollars to subvert our democratic process (and this is going to scare the hell out of conservatives, but damn it, it needs to happen) is to enact a fairness doctrine on lobbying. Our voices and our votes simply aren't convincing enough for our public servants to do the people's business anymore.
For every dollar these clowns want to spend to influence our elected officials, they need to pay an organization that opposes them. Or, better yet, we should be pumping those dollars into the non-partisan Congress Watchdog groups Ralph Nader has been proposing for a while. We need to have the ear of Congress in the same force and numbers the enemy has assembled.
I know referring to them as the enemy might seem as though I'm lowering the debate somehow, but how else would you describe them? They've assembled teams of people whose only job is to corrode our democracy, damage the lives of our citizens, and water down legislation that might affect their unholy jihad for the all mighty dollar.
They pose as large a threat to the American Dream as any rogue terrorist organization.
Hell, Al Qaeda has nothing on PhRMA, Merck, Pfizer, the AMA, and dozens of others. They're all responsible for horrendous, preventable deaths and want to eat at the core foundations of our system until we believe up is down and black is white. But they're worse because as I said before, they're bankrolling this terrorism with our money and we keep asking for more.
I don't want any more of what they're selling. And I don't think you do, either.
So, start by making some calls and writing some letters. Do it angry. Nothing boils my blood more than the idea that we'll never be able to get a civilized, fair, and equal way of distributing the burden of health care for every man, woman, and child in the United States. Because, by God, that's the American way
Bryan Young is the producer of the documentary Killer at Large