"Two senior House Democrats are seeking a raft of financial figures from health-insurance companies, upping the ante as President Obama and his allies push to make the insurance industry's flaws a centerpiece of their campaign for health-care reform.
House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), chairman of the panel's subcommittee on oversight and investigations, wrote letters Monday to more than 50 of the nation's largest insurers informing them that the committee "is examining executive compensation and other business practices in the health insurance industry." They requested detailed information on the compensation packages of the companies' highest-paid employees, as well as information on the companies' boards, conferences and events they sponsored, the profitability of the individual health-care products they sell and revenues earned through government programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
The letters ask that much of the information be provided to the committee by Sept. 4, and the rest by Sept. 14. The House is scheduled to return from recess Sept. 8."
Since when did Congress have the authority to 'examine' the compensation decisions of private companies? The Constitution does not give them the power to do this, but some might say prior practices do.
Remember way back when people first discussed the idea of a federal minimum wage? One of the questions was this: if Congress can set a minimum, can they also set a maximum? Oh no, we were told, that would never happen...everyone always wants to make more money and American was built on the idea of being rewarded for hard work...
But now we find that we are, indeed, at the place we were warned of: a bunch of politicians in Washington deciding what the pay of various privately-employed individuals should be - not based upon their value to the organization providing the compensation, but upon the political goals of the politicians (who, by the way, get to set their own compensation without any oversight whatsoever!).
We even have a pay czar, though his role is supposed to be limited to compensation within companies who took bail-out monies. But how long do you think it will be before his unelected role expands into other sectors as well?
The politicians will tell you that since these companies are getting 'public' dollars, the 'public' gets to dictate terms, conditions, practices, even product development, and a host of rules and regulations. But they don't really mean the 'public.' They mean the politicians. And these same politicians use their elected positions to force their own views on the nation, even when the nation disagrees.
So here we are, with Congress delving into matters of contract between two consenting parties with the idea that despite the mutual agreement of the parties, the contract should be changed so that what government wants (regardless of anyone else) government gets. But it's not just matters of compensation, it's creeped into almost every aspect of our lives, from smoking in private places to mandatory seat belt usage to taxes on products we like but government says are bad for us.
It is a slippery slope - and we're closer to the bottom than we ever thought possible.