Just when the commotion caused by a top bundler for Pete Buttigieg was fading from political conversations, another problematic bundler has been exposed. This time it is Wendy Wanderman, an entertainment executive who specializes in film marketing and production. A taxpayer-funded initiative she proposed in 2009 has surfaced and is causing some heartburn for Buttigieg’s campaign. Her proposal, “Cash for Fatties” would pay people to lose weight.
Remember Cash for Clunkers, the Obama administration’s cash incentive program for drivers who traded in older automobiles to purchase newer fuel-efficient vehicles? This plan was along the same lines. She proposed that there be a program for the government to pay people to lose weight. She outlined her idea in a 279-word blog post published by HuffPost where she was a contributor at the time. The internet is forever and her old blog post is in the news.
To add to the problematic blog post, Wanderman took a shot at Republicans as she tsk-tsked overweight people in red states. Because, of course, she did. The five states with the highest percentage of overweight people were red states. She turned the obesity problem in America into a political argument. Her argument was that blue state Americans were paying for the health care of red-state Americans. She worked the preference of a single-payer health care system into her rationale. This is the report she references.
According to a recent report from the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the Top 5 states that have the highest percentage of overweight people are all Republican red states. In fact in the Top 10 ranking of most overweight states, only Michigan (ranked 8) and Ohio (tied for 10th) are the only blue states among a field of red.
Basically, people in the thinner and mostly bluer states are paying for the healthcare costs of all of the uninsured and Medicare covered individuals in these red states. It’s no secret that the more overweight a person is, the greater likelihood that his/her medical costs increase. Thus, the blue states in which we want a public option, are paying the costs of the red states where they oppose it.
Her proposal looks to be short-sighted, though. She doesn’t say who will determine if someone is “heavily overweight” but no doubt it would be some government bureaucrat in a cubicle in Washington, D.C. Wanderman suggests that weight loss programs are paid for by other taxpayers but that opens up a discussion about the effectiveness and legitimacy of weight loss programs. So, that would be another government-controlled decision. And, finally, she recommends that payment is made after the weight loss and again after six months or a year. What happens after that? Does the person get a government hand-out for the rest of his or her life if the weight loss is maintained?
Therefore, here’s what I propose. The government should institute a program in which people are paid to lose weight. You can only register for this program if it is determined that you are heavily overweight. If you enroll in a weight loss program like Weight Watchers, (the gov’t will pay for it whether you have health insurance or not) and lose a significant amount of weight, the gov’t will pay you a fee. If you keep the weight off after 6 months or a year, the gov’t will give you an additional payment.
Keep in mind, this woman isn’t a medical doctor or even a nutritionist. She’s an entertainment industry executive. Mayor Pete is using her to raise some big bucks for his campaign. She served on President Obama’s National Finance Committee. She has raised at least $25,000 for Buttigieg’s presidential campaign. In Buttigieg’s push to be more transparent, his campaign released a list of top bundlers. She is one of the 146 people listed.
This goes to Pete Buttigieg’s judgment. If you ask me, Wanderman is even more problematic than H.K. Park is to the campaign. Park offered up a traditional pay to play opportunity for donors – donate money and get access to the candidate. The campaign distanced itself from Park, of course, and acts as though he is some rogue fundraiser. It exposed Buttigieg as just another politician, not some young reformer out to change business as usual in Washington.
There is also the problem with political divisiveness in a story like this. Wanderman’s eagerness to pit red-state conservatives against blue state liberals over health care policy sounds like we what we came to expect from the Obama years. The notion that President Trump brought in something new in the political division between conservatives and liberals is laughable. That has been growing for several administrations in my lifetime alone. Clinton’s impeachment, the Bush-Gore election, the Afghanistan and Iraq wars during the Bush administration, and then Obama’s lurch to usher in socialism all divided conservatives and liberals. The divisions are stark during Trump’s administration because of the refusal of the left to accept his election. That began before he was even inaugurated. Our liberal betters simply don’t like conservatives. They look down on conservatives and the only Republicans they like are the ones willing to go along to get along.
Mayor Pete is from a red state. He loses the chance to appeal to moderate Republican voters with any message of unity if he continues to associate with the far left who want nanny state solutions to problems. Health complications from obesity add to medical costs but blaming it on red states is ridiculous. Also, a policy initiative like this would also target and shame poor people who do not have access to a better diet or money to afford a healthier way of eating.
I’ll end with one more little nugget on Buttigieg’s bundlers. Buttigieg’s “Medicare for All Who Want It” health care proposal pledges to ban a predatory practice known as “balance billing”. That is when patients are presented with high bills for receiving out of network care without knowing it. A top Buttigieg fundraiser, billionaire Hamilton James, is the executive vice-chairman of Blackstone which has been linked to deceptive billing practice schemes. And, when the Buttigieg campaign released its initial list of top fundraisers, over 20 high-level fundraisers were left off the list. Oops. It looks like the campaign needs a little better vetting of fundraisers and a better eye to details going forward.