COMMENTARY | Being in a vulnerable state like having cancer is difficult enough without having to deal with the added financial pressure that sequestration has caused.
The Hill reported Sunday that sequestration cuts have caused the Medicare payment for cancer drugs and administrative costs to be eliminated, meaning patients are being turned away from cancer clinics. Ted Okon, executive director of the Community Oncology Alliance, addressed the urgent congressional action over funding to address flight delays as cancer clinics are severely impacted, saying, “Unfortunately, this doesn’t (hit) home directly to members, as traveling does.”
Sequestration has shown the American people just how selfish and self-preservation-minded Congress is. As long as a program cut affects its members directly like air travel, they’ll fight like heck to preserve it. Furthermore, powerful lobbies in Washington are also on hand to make sure that sequestration is as painless for their interests compared to those who don’t have the financial muscle to influence our national lawmakers.
Reuters reported Saturday that before Congress approved legislation to allow money to be diverted to keep air traffic controllers from being furloughed, “A heavy dose of lobbying from the airline and travel industry preceded the legislation enacted Friday,” which included Airlines for America (A4A). A4A spent some $6.3 million in lobbying efforts last year, per the Center for Responsive Politics.
A cancer victim generally doesn’t have millions to garner attention in Washington, whose leaders don’t know the difference between matters of life and death as opposed to mere inconvenience. But what they do respond to is well-financed special interests, who can scheme to get money even for unnecessary things.
The Associated Press reported Monday that the U.S. Army is under bipartisan congressional pressure to spend $436 million on a particular model of the Abrams tank that it doesn’t need. The tank-producing plant is in the swing state of Ohio, and operated by defense contractor General Dynamics, which spent approximately $11 million in lobbying last year, per the Center for Responsive Politics.
America is already heavily armed with weaponry for national defense, so it is the epitome of fiscal insanity for any member of Congress to champion an unnecessary tank, especially when sick people are dying without their treatments. Our national politicians don’t think about what’s best for the country as a whole, but what’s best to keep their cushy jobs in the midst of austerity.