This is the continuation of my series on the economy, health care and the budgetary restrictions faced by the Obama agenda.
3. The results
Adult mortality rate (probably dying between 15 to 60 years per 1000 population) both sexes
Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births) both sexes
Life expectancy at birth (years) both sexes
Under-5 mortality rate (probability of dying by age 5 per 1000 live births) both sexes
4. Looking for an explanation for the unreasonable
The charts posted above give us numbers to back what we already know: our system is expensive, provides poor results but has been able to preserve itself since the times of President Truman, 1948 (or Teddy Roosevelt, 1912, as you prefer). Here we have a mix of special interests and intellectual misery.
a) Thanks to Cenk Uygur (http://www.theyoungturks.com/), an article by Nate Silver, the known guru 538, came to my attention: ‘On heath care, who’s hooked on special interest money?’ (http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/...). It happens that the Democrat most dependent on health care lobbying money is Kent Conrad of North Dakota. Silver says "This might give one some pause when evaluating Conrad's co-op plan or his skepticism about the Senate's ability to pass a public option. Several other Senators who are regulars in the health care debate, like Democrat Max Baucus and Republicans Orrin Hatch and Chuck Grassley, also rank in the top 10 in their dependence on health care lobbying money."
Silver also says "Senators in favor of a public option have received, on average, $335,308 or 1.8% of their total campaign contributions from health industry PACs. Senators opposed to it have received an average of $486,629 or 3.5%. Undecided senators have gotten $530,968, or 2.9 percent of their total campaign funds, from health industry PACs."
Nevertheless, this explanation by itself has three weaknesses:
(i) Senators Brown, Harkin, Cardin, Rockefeller and Durbin have received more than Landrieu or Feinstein and they support the public option. On June 21 it was reported that Senator Feinstein (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/...) said that she wasn't certain there are enough Democratic votes to support the proposal and has avoided to declare whether she supports the public option or not.
(ii) The length of the period, 1989 to the present, makes difficult to explain positions like Lieberman’s.
(iii) Contributions to a candidate could be a very deceitful or at least partial way of looking at the effect of interests on the votes of Senators. Let’s consider the case of immigration reform in 2007. Opponents of immigration reform threatened Senators to fund their challengers unless they caved to their xenophobic demands. The more vulnerable a Senator is, the easier is for small but well organized and funded special interests to influence on them.
Also thanks to Cenk Uygur (http://www.theyoungturks.com/) I could learn of an activist, Lee Stranahan (http://leestranahan.com/), who has produced many videos denouncing those Senators not supporting of health care reform. According to Stanahan (even though I have not been able to confirm his numbers with Nate Silver’s or those from the Center for Responsive Politics), Landrieu has received $6 million dollars from health insurance companies (he doesn’t say in what period); Lieberman is the number 4 recipient of health insurance donations, with $656,960 coming from health professionals, pharmaceuticals and health products industries during the 2008 campaign cycle, and Baucus has been the first recipient of Health care insurance money (what is confirmed in Silver’s numbers).
From the Center for Responsive Politics (http://www.opensecrets.org/), contributions from PACs and individuals for the most recent cycle were:
Thus, this chart, with more recent information, explains better the attitude of Joe Lieberman, who is not subject to the stresses of running in a red state.
These rankings are not consistent from one period to the next. Consider the case of Max Baucus, fifth recipient from the health industry in the 2008 cycle and number 16 so far in the cycle 2010. When we consider the insurance industry, Baucus is the tenth recipient for 2008 and so far is not even one of the first twenty, while Senator Schumer is the number one recipient so far for 2010.
Recipients from health industry 2008/2010 (not including PACs):
Recipients from Insurance industry 2008/2010 (not including PACs):
On the other hand, the nation's largest insurers, hospitals and medical groups have hired more than 350 former government staff members and retired members of Congress in hopes of influencing their old bosses and colleagues, according to an analysis of lobbying disclosures and other records (http://www.washingtonpost.com/...). Nearly half of the insiders previously worked for the key committees and lawmakers, including Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), debating whether to adopt a public insurance option opposed by major industry groups. Overall, health-care companies and their representatives spent more than $126 million on lobbying in the first quarter, leading all other industries. Especially active on this line has been PhRMA (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America), followed by Pfizer, Eli Lilly, the AMA and the American Hospital Association. PhRMA and other major players such as America's Health Insurance Plans remains opposed to the public-insurance option. Health-care interests account for about one-sixth of the American economy.
In a wider context, an article appeared in The Hill on July 1 show, in the House, show how Representatives like Chet Edwards (different from cases like those of Walt Minnick and Bobby Bright) have been pretty loyal to Obama despite the wide margin got by McCain in his district and how Representatives like Joe Donnelly has had a vote performance ambiguous at best despite the comfortable margin won by Obama over McCain. In that same article, its author says that "the 50-plus Democrats considered vulnerable by The Cook Political Report have voted with Republicans about 20 percent of the time on those 15 votes [detailed in the article]. Some of the members didn’t desert the party on any of the major votes"; the defection rate has been much higher in the subset of 10 Democrats whose districts went for GOP presidential nominee John McCain (R-Ariz.) by double digits [-45%. All but one voted with Republicans on the energy bill and all but two voted to keep Guantanamo open"; "Rep. Chet Edwards (Texas), whose district want for McCain by more than any other Democrat
6732] has largely stuck with his party. His vote against the energy bill was only his second in the 15 votes. That allows republicans aiming for his seat to peg him with his support for the stimulus, the budget and myriad other Democratic positions. On the other end of the spectrum, Rep. Joe Donnelly’s (Ind.) district went for Obama by 9 percent, yet he deserted his party on a majority of the 15 votes" and "Republicans are particularly focused on going after Democrats for their votes on the energy bill, the stimulus and Obama’s budget. They have already run ads on all three issues and will continue to hammer away as the cycle goes on (http://thehill.com/...).
Even though campaign contributions could be a better explanation of attitudes like Lieberman’s (and maybe Feinstein’s) and the health-care industry is spending more than $1.4 million a day on lobbying in the current fight, intellectual mediocrity to sell health care reform to their constituencies seems to be a more power reason explaining the poor support Obama’s plan has received from his own party. While Stranahan’s tactic could be more useful with Lieberman and Feinstein, it would be not that effective with Baucus, Conrad or Nelson because they are caving to the debate as Democrats have let it to be defined by the Right. In this case, the only way to bring those Senators would be that Obama, Lyndon B. Johnson- style, twist their arms and even threaten to destroy their careers if they don’t support health care reform, no matter how ugly it sounds.
More pet photos: