Insurance lobbyists behind Wilson effort
Once again Rep. Joe Wilson has embarrassed the state of South Carolina. His photograph graces a story in The New York Times on Nov. 14 that demonstrates that more than a dozen members of Congress made speeches for entry into the Congressional Record using identical wording, all written not by the members themselves, or by their staffs, but by lobbyists for Genentech, the giant biotech company, subsidiary of the Swiss company, Roche. A Swiss news source reports that the huge pharmaceutical companies, Roche and Novartis, have been spending millions to influence members of the U.S. Congress on health care reform legislation.
Wilson is no stranger to getting money from large health care providers and insurance companies. The Web site that tracks political contributions to our politicians, opensecrets.org, identifies the top five contributors to Rep. Wilson's 2009-10 Campaign Committee include the American Hospital Association and Blue Cross/Blue Shield. The health industry is overall the second largest contributor to Wilson's committee.
Rep. Wilson should not be simply parroting into the Congressional Record a text written by lobbyists. Next year, let's get someone who can think and act for himself to represent the 2nd Congressional District.
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Wilson's actions continue to resonate
I suspect many of us have had a Joe Wilson moment at some point in our lives. One that I especially remember occurred years ago at an annual employee meeting. At these meetings the company's owner usually thanked us for our efforts, passed out Christmas bonuses and promised salary increases for the coming year. But at this meeting we were told that the company was financially unable to give Christmas bonuses or raises. The owner assured us that he too was forgoing his year-end bonus and salary increase.
As chief accountant I knew this to be false, for I had already processed the paperwork for the owner's bonus and salary increase. It was an appropriate moment for me to shout, 'You lie!". But as I had a wife and family to support, I was reluctant to jeopardize my job. Consequently, I chose expediency over integrity, and remained silent.
So, although Joe Wilson's flareup lacked decorum, I can empathize with him. The president had just declared that illegal immigrants could not receive any benefits under his healthcare bill. But subsequent research of the language of the proposed bill revealed that there are indeed ways that illegal immigrants could obtain care. Republicans offered an amendment to close those loopholes, but not surprisingly, the amendment was rejected by votes along party lines.
Rep. Wilson was simply unable to resist expressing what many of us felt: President Obama was deliberately deceiving the American public and we resented it.
Nothing new in Wilson coverage
There is that ancient story about Joe Wilson shouting "You lie!" right on the front page of The State while hardly deserving a two-inch column on page 10. What is your point? I do not recall that any fuss was made when President Bush was booed and heckled during his 2005 State of the Union address. Did anyone apologize? Where is the balanced news coverage? And Joe did not apologize for all the money he received to support him? Someone thinks he should? That is laughable.
Wilson ignoring much of constituency
Thanks to a story on the front page of the Nov. 15 paper we know how much Rep. Joe Wilson earned for disrespecting his commander in chief, the president of the United States. But I wonder how much he's being paid to disrespect his constituents.
Those men, women and children in his district who can't afford health insurance, have been denied health insurance due to pre-existing conditions, or have lost their health insurance coverage, how much are they worth to Rep. Wilson's supporters?
When I wrote him directly, I received a reply indicating he supports tort reform but rejects changes proposed by Democrats. Nice for the insurance companies to lower payouts. Nice for reducing liability costs to physicians. He didn't mention doing anything about eliminating pre-existing conditions and, I believe, other Republicans in Congress are ignoring that need also. Why not? They and all who work for them are insured through a governmental arrangement.
I'd like to see a tallying of Wilson's campaign donations from health insurance companies and related agencies. Go ahead, Joe, collect your money and ignore the needs of the people. I'm thinking the people are wise to your priorities thanks to the publicity your rude behavior brought.