Magazine article The New American

Destroying A Nation: Obomanomics Shows That the Unchallenged Alliance between Special-Interest Lobbyists and Compliant Politicians Is Crushing Both Liberty and Free-Market Capitalism

Magazine article The New American

Destroying A Nation: Obomanomics Shows That the Unchallenged Alliance between Special-Interest Lobbyists and Compliant Politicians Is Crushing Both Liberty and Free-Market Capitalism

Article excerpt

Obomanomics; How Barack Obama Is Bankrupting You and Enriching His Wall Street Friends, Corporate Lobbyists, and Union Bosses, by Timothy P. Carney with a Foreword by Ron Paul, Washington, D.C.; Regnery Publishing, 2009, 297 pages, hardcover, $27.95.

Fewer and fewer Americans would accept the cliches "Big business always resists government intrusion" and "Democrats are for the working class, while Republicans support the rich." In the day of the Internet, it is often all too easy to figure out the less-than-altruistic motives of our elected officials and which costly, ineffective, and unconstitutional programs politicians support merely to "buy" votes for reelection. But most Americans (including your reviewer before reading this book) have no idea how totally corrupt our federal government has become.

In Obomanomics Timothy Carney shows us the true face of politics--warts, blackheads, and all other blemishes included.

There are few generalities in this book. Carney brings us specific, highly documented accounts of what is going on in Washington under the auspices of such programs as cap and trade, bailouts, and healthcare. Common to all the programs are (a) the expansion of government on a pretext of helping some unfortunate group or necessary cause, (b) the jockeying for position of lobbyists representing special interests seeking the best seat at the trough, and (c) the appropriations of huge sums of money, often in the tens or hundreds of billions of dollars, that end up in the coffers of those with the best lobbyists.

Helping ... Themselves

As an example, Americans hear a drumbeat in the mainstream media about the Obama administration's brawl with the evil insurance industry and greedy pharmaceutical companies. Ah, but what are things like when nobody's looking?

In 1997, Republicans created the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to provide health insurance coverage for young children. While the program represented an expansion of government, it was relatively benign, as states administered the program and subsidized private insurance wrote the policies. Democrats immediately attempted to expand it, and Republicans were flayed by the media for their opposition. The Democratic Congress passed the bill expanding SCHIP in January 2009, with Obama signing it as soon as he took office.

Washington Post writer Jeffery Birnbaum had excoriated opposition to the bill by "the tobacco lobby and America's Health Insurance Plans [AHIP], the leading trade organization for health insurance companies." Author Carney notes Birnbaum was correct that AHIP was lobbying heavily on the issue of SCHIP expansion, but "he apparently missed the fact that AHIP was among the earliest, most consistent, and most influential lobbyists supporting the expansion." (Emphasis in the original.)

The pharmaceutical lobby PhRMA was equally interested in the program, as it provided government subsidies for people to buy prescription drugs. Carney asks, "If you can get taxpayers to funnel money to your consumers, why wouldn't you support it? AHIP's stake in the fight is equally obvious. SCHIP is a subsidy for people to buy insurance. Expanding it expands the pipeline from taxpayers to HMOs."

There are parallels here to the present healthcare debate. At present, the Obama forces are backing away from proposals such as "the public option" that would hurt the insurance industry, and pushing initiatives such as the individual mandate that would deliver millions of new customers to insurance companies on a silver platter. Regulations on profits are welcomed by the lobbyists, along with continuation of the ban on selling across state lines, as these help to keep out new competitors.


The companies and organizations named by Carney as complicit in these attacks on our federal system and healthcare system include AARP, Abbot, ABC, Aetna, AIG, Alcoa, Alston & Bird, Altair, Altria, AANA, American Electric Power, American Health Care Association, American Hospital Association, American Nurses Association, American Optometric Association, America's Health Insurance Plans, Ameritech, Anheuser Busch, AP, Assurant, AT&T, and Atlantic. …

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