So America has decided that the eight years in which the Republicans absolutely raped the World, didn’t happen. The mid-terms have seen a major shift to the Right in American politics since 2008. Which amazes me. The Democrats got pretty destroyed. It is likely that the Republicans are going to assume that their new found control of the House means they have the mandate to push through legislation surrounding budget cuts, tax breaks for the wealthy, and an attempt to roll back Healthcare reform (they don’t seem to care that 35,000,000 people are now insured; only that it might hurt the profits of major insurance companies). Of course, mandate doesn’t bother them considering they have spent the past two years making life as difficult as possible for a Party who were elected to attempt to clean up the mess the previous White House left.
Obama has been weak. Very weak. The rhetoric of change didn’t exactly pan out that way. He isn’t all that different from the last lot. His failure to close Guantanamo, is refusal to back same sex marriage, his continued wars in the Middle East, and his utter failure to do anything significant with the banking sector has been his undoing. He isn’t Socialist, he isn’t really all that Left. He’s firmly in the centre. He just has an opposition who seem to think anything Right of Reagan = Stalin.
One attack point throughout the past two years has been the Healthcare bill. Now, according to a Harvard study in 2009, there were found to be more than 44,000 deaths associated with those who have no health insurance. By 2019, it is reckoned that a further 30,000,000 people will now be insured thanks to the Healthcare Bill. 62% of all 2007 bankruptcies were due to the inability to pay medical costs. The wonders of Capitalism. All this talk of death panels and the evils of the UK’s National Health Service sparked Tea Party arseholes to go out in the street and demand NO SOCIALISM! The problem is, that the UK’s National Health Service, according to the World Health Organisation, is 20 places in the World Rankings, higher than the U.S. The UK also has a far better child mortality rate, we pay less, and our life expectancy is better. So whilst those in the Tea Party continue to be nothing more than an uneducated mouthpiece of the insurance industry, we in the UK will continue to enjoy our evil Socialist healthcare, whilst living longer. The Government did not take over healthcare in the US. The US remains the only apparently civilised country that does not provide universal healthcare. Those of us who live in Countries that do have a universal healthcare system, would never elect a party to government if they ever spoke of privatising it. The NHS is a National treasure.
Healthcare is essential. It should be a right. Not a luxury. To be told by an insurer that you are not eligible because you have a pre-existing condition is grotesque. I cannot imagine the American public would be too keen on the idea of having to pay for fire insurance. When their house is burning down and the fire engine turns up, having to check your papers are in order and your payments have been kept up to date before they rescue your screaming child.
It makes me wonder, how do very wealthy businessmen in the insurance industry, who really couldn’t give a damn about the health of their customers, manage to coerce a mass of ordinary people who might benefit from the Healthcare reforms, to fight their corner?
It isn’t a new phenomena. The rich have always managed to make the poorer folks fight for them. This is how wars work. Invoke a sense of Nationalism. Refer to them as ‘fighting for our freedom’. Emotive language always does the trick. Make them believe there is a common enemy. Communists, Muslims, Gay people, Atheists etc. You can trace it back to the days of the Founding Fathers. Hamilton described the public (those who were less wealthy and of less importance than he) as a “great beast”. The idea of an electoral college was installed because people like Madison did not believe the public could be trusted. But somehow, they managed to get widespread support; based entirely on being anti-British.
The Civil War days were not much different. The wealthy managed to make the poor white folk believe that if slavery were abandoned, the jobs market would be flooded and the black folk would take all their jobs. The irony was, that the black folk already had the jobs, because they were slaves, and so weren’t paid anything. The real issue was that the rich white folk would rather keep paying the black slaves nothing, and the white folk as little as possible. Both the black and white poor folk, were being massively abused, and yet the poor white folk fought for the benefit of the rich white folk. It made no sense. But they were heavily manipulated into doing so.
A similar thing happened with healthcare. This notion of “big socialist government” was thrown around constantly. The Bush Administration spent eight years focusing on making the spread of false fear an art, and it seems to have continued. Glenn Beck on Fox News within the space of about a week managed to refer to Obama as a Socialist, a Muslim, a Terrorist, a Fascist, a Marxist, and Foreign. Probably Gay as well at some point.
This, coupled with the fact that major Health insurers (the modern day slave owners) ensured fear was rampant meant that an easily manipulated population believed they were on the verge of becoming the USSA. The second largest Health insurance provider in America is UnitedHealth Group. In 2009 they issued a letter subtly urging its staff to attend rallies against the healthcare bill and lobby local representatives.
Reps. Michele Bachmann and John Kline, and Gov. Tim Pawlenty, all Republicans, referred in 2009, to a group called Lewin, as ‘independent and non-Partisan’ when they used Lewin (who specialise in economic analysis of Healthcare in the US) research to support their opposition to the Healthcare Bill. Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House Republican whip referred to Lewin Group as “the nonpartisan Lewin Group” when backing up his arguments against the Healthcare Bill. Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee referred to Lewin Group as an “independent research firm” and Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah said that Lewin Group is “well known as one of the most nonpartisan groups in the country”. The problem is, Lewin is owned by UnitedHealth Group. The research spouted by Republicans, actually comes from a Company who spent time and money circling an email to its employees encouraging them to attend rallies and events against Health Reform. In what universe would you have to be living on to suggest that they are “non-partisan”.
Chuck Grassley, the most senior idiot Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, stated of Ted Kennedy:
“I don’t know for sure, But I’ve heard several senators say that Ted Kennedy with a brain tumour, being 77 years old as opposed to being 37 years old, if he were in England, would not be treated for his disease, because end of life – when you get to be 77, your life is considered less valuable under those systems.”
The phrase “I don’t know for sure” saves him from utter embarrassment when he is shown to be completely lying. I say this, because my grandma is 84 and currently in hospital, very ill. My dad came home today and said the nurses and the doctor, are amazing. The nurses are around her all the time, and keep mentioning her kids and her grandkids to try to keep her mind as active and alert as possible. The most senior Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, is propagating a rumour that the NHS does not treat the elderly. It is bullshit and he shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it. It is just another tactic to fight the reforms. Obama must be banging his head on his desk wondering why he ever applied to be the President of a country full of lunatics.
We need to be clear; Republicans do not care about making sure people are healthy and fit. Republicans are just trying to protect the obscene profits of the insurance industry.
It isn’t just Republicans though, that are ultimately the bitches of the insurance industry. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Democrat Senator Ben Nelson, raised more than $2 million from insurance and health care interests in his three campaigns for federal office. He has received $1,195,299 from insurance interests, $399,345 from health professionals, $258,483 from the pharmaceutical industry, and $195,138 from hospital and nursing home interests. UnitedHealth, spoke of earlier, donated $25,000 to Nelson. It is no surprise then, that Nelson voted against the Health Care legislation.
The race to be the next California Insurance Commissioner is also interesting. The Republican nominee, Michael Villines says he does not take contributions from insurance companies. According to filings with the Secretary of State, a PAC spent $280,000 running ads and a campaign entirely against the Democrat, Dave Jones. The contributions may not have gone to Villines personally, but they are being used to get him elected, mainly because he his massively against healthcare reform. Villines also managed to transfer $50,000 worth of contributions from the insurance industry, from his 2014 Senate campaign fund, to his Insurance Commissioner fund.
Data according to the OECD shows that in comparison to Australia, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Norway and Sweden, the USA ranks bottom when it comes to life expectancy, infant mortality, Per capita expenditure on health, Healthcare costs as a percent of GDP, % of government revenue spent on health, and also quite amusingly; % of health costs paid by government. Perhaps there is a bit of a link there. Perhaps government run healthcare isn’t as evil as the American Right like to suggest.
The Republicans have said they will argue that the healthcare bill is unconstitutional and try to repeal it. Apparently going to war on the base of a lie is perfectly acceptable and constitutional. Apparently having a worse child mortality rate than Singapore is perfectly acceptable and constitutional. Apparently idolising Reagan; a man who illegally sold arms to both Iran and Iraq, whilst using drugs cartels to transport weapons to right winged terrorists in Latin America, is perfectly acceptable and constitutional, but trying to help the millions of Americans who are denied healthcare by the cancer of society; health insurers, is evil and socialist and unconstitutional.
America has just elected a House of Representatives whose majority are a party almost entirely in the pocket of insurance companies, and who light the fuse that started the entire financial crises in the first place. America never fails to amaze me.