Total Spent Lobbying Congress And Federal Agencies
Source: Center for Responsive Governments
Normally I keep my journalism and political-economic scribblings away from this web site. But every good fiction writer also has to have a worldview about the society he lives in, and these are momentous days here in the United States. We are, in fact, now approaching the final 48 hours of the Congressional vote on whether our health care industry is to be revamped. Sounds like hyperbole, but it really is a watershed event in our history. For the record: This registered Republican is in favor of the health care bill and hopes it passes.
Forget for the moment the humanity and decency behind giving all America’s citizens affordable health care. Most Americans probably don’t know that, according to a 2007 study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a serious illness is the reason for 62% of personal bankruptcies in America, and in those cases 60.3% had private medical insurance (the figure was 70% if you added in those with Medicare/Medicaid.) PennMedecine at the University of Pennsylvania, meanwhile, recently demonstrated in their study that a middle class family with private medical insurance is still going to be financially wiped out if a member is stricken by a serious illness, due to co-pays and donuts and what have you. So let’s just tackle, for the moment, the “competitiveness” argument so beloved by my fellow Republicans attacking the bill.
America spends 18% of its GDP on health care. Using OECD accounting definitions, health care costs in America, as a percentage of GDP, are double those of Japan and over 50% more than in Canada. There is no way we can be competitive in a global economy with those health cost burdens imposed on us. The country that comes closest to us, Switzerland, is still paying 35% less than we are. I lived in Switzerland for 16 years. Any American who has deluded himself into thinking that the Swiss provide their citizens with a second rate health care service clearly needs to get a passport.
Something has to be done about our health care. We can no longer afford the status quo. If this health care bill fails, then all Americans will know that the country has finally become ungovernable, and that the special interests looking out after their narrow and self-serving concerns can pretty much sabotage any attempt at reform for the greater good. All the proof you need is to be found in the table found at the top of this blog.
Lobbying – it is the only recession proof business in America.