James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Past time to follow the health care money

Industries that profit hugely from America's health care scam – notably insurance companies and pharmaceutical makers, but others as well – have spent massive sums to prevent any genuine reform of the non-system.

Many news and even some of the pseudo news outfits have reported what those companies spent and are spending to lobby against reform.

The Washington Post, CNN, New York Times and others said repeatedly during the fall that the profiteers were laying out $1.5 million a day to make sure we don't get affordable health care for all Americans. No doubt the expenditures have increased over the past month or so.

Estimates of the total spent by the profiteers on anti-reform lobbying go to more than $500 million since last spring.

CNN noted back in September that the expenditures to that point would cover top-drawer insurance for more than 30,000 Americans for one year. By now that number has to be 35,000 Americans.


A very important set of facts has never been reported, so far as I can find. None of the badly educated, largely untrained stenographers who have replaced reporters seems even to have asked the big questions:

Exactly where is all the money going? Precisely how is it being spent? Who's collecting what the insurers and pharmas are paying?

Much of the money goes into the personal bank accounts of the lobbyists, of course.

The Guardian, a Brit news operation that does a better job of covering Washington than most U.S. news outfits, reported during the fall that the various health care industries had deployed a total of six (count them, six) lobbyists for each and every member of Congress. Of course, that's on average; some of the few unbought liberals may get only one or two or none at all, and Joe Lieberman probably has eight or nine brushing off his chair as he sits down for lunch while three others spread his napkin on his lap and four more serenade him. If you have a precious possession, you cherish it.

However, it is clear, on the face of it, that not all the money is being paid to lobbyists just to talk to members of Congress, sing them lullabies and massage them with expensive oils and ointments.

So where is the money going? To “charities” favored by legislators with power? To campaign funds? To wives and siblings and girlfriends under various ruses? To “nonprofit” employers of said wives, siblings and girlfriends? To PACs that saddle the various members' favorite hobby horses?

C'mon, “news” people. Where the hell is the money going, exactly? And I do mean exactly.

If the expenditures for lobbying are declared, and obviously a large percentage of the total is declared, then it is possible to find out who is being paid what.


Oh, and while we're at it, why do the corporate “news” media generally ignore the fact that Hadassah Lieberman, Joe's wife, has spent most of the past ten years or so as a highly-paid lobbyist for the major pharmceutical companies? She was director of policy, planning and communications for Pfizer, one of the biggest drug makers, and then a lobbyist for the pharma industry until quite recently. Before getting in the health care biz, she was a research analyst for Lehman Brothers, the big investment house that collapsed in 2008.

Her activities are highly relevant and should be noted in every story about his gun-for-hire activities.

And why don't the purported news outfits include in reports on the Senate farce the fact that the wife of Sen. Chris Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat who was involved in writing the Senate's bill, is on the boards of directors of three health care corporations and for a time sat on the board of a subsidiary of AIG, the government funds gulping insurance giant?

And why hasn't anyone made a big splash by reporting on the stock in pharmaceutical, insurance and other health care companies owned by members of Congress? Democraticunderground.com stated way back in June that more than 30 “key” members of Congress owned substantial amounts of stock in pharmas and that some are directors of drug companies.

I come near to weeping sometimes for what has happened to the craft to which I devoted my entire working life.