Friday, January 3, 2014

Are Corporations Robber Barons or Cringing Courtiers?

Screw the insurance companies!  That's the knee-jerk instinct of many Americans. Why, just think of their profits — as in profits before people.

Sorry to disappoint, but "Health Plans" have a net profit margin of 3.3 percent whereas Microsoft has a profit margin of 28%.  Eevil Exxon has a net profit margin of about 10%.  So there.

Of course, there is no doubt that corporations have a lot of influence in the corridors of political power.  But the question is, are corporations powers in their own right, like the barons of feudal Europe, or are they more like courtiers of absolute monarchies?

Are corporations like the lusty and rebellious barons of Shakespeare's Wars of the Roses plays, or cringing courtiers subservient to the king's vizier, the Cardinal Wolsey or Thomas Cromwell of the day?

Let's look at today's issue, raised by Charles Krauthammer.  "Stop the Bailout!" he thunders.

You see, buried in Sections 1341 and 1342 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are two little sweeteners for the insurance companies.
First, Section 1341, the “reinsurance” fund collected from insurers and self-insuring employers at a nifty $63 a head. (Who do you think the cost is passed on to?) This yields about $20 billion over three years to cover losses.

Then there is Section 1342, the “risk corridor” provision that mandates a major taxpayer payout covering up to 80 percent of insurance-company losses.
Isn't that special?

But back to the question.  With this nice little bailout tucked into Obamacare, who is the real power?  Is it the government, telling the insurance companies: Hey, you wanna do business in this town, you gotta play with us.  Or is it the insurance companies telling the government: Hey, you want us to play doggo for this new government program and keep Harry and Louise off the air, you gotta pay.

 Maybe the real answer is the delicious irony.  Here we have the Democrats: they have been demagoguing against the insurance companies for decades and have trained everyone to believe that they are sworn to fight for the people against the insurance companies.

So let's see if they mean it.  Let's make the "first order of business for the returning Congress: The No Bailout for Insurance Companies Act of 2014," writes Krauthammer.
Make it one line long: “Sections 1341 and 1342 of the Affordable Care Act are hereby repealed.”
I think I will go and write letters to my two compassionate and caring United States senators: Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA).  Surely they will come down on the side of the people against the powerful.

But I'm still puzzled about whether corporations are the bosses or the courtiers.

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