Dems Who Voted Against Public Option : $19 Million in Healthcare Bucks

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Max Baucus Health Care Lobbyist Complex

Democrats who voted against public option
Got $19 million from healthcare firms

…compared to the profits the insurance industry will make if a public option is defeated… They got a great deal for that 19 million.

By Muriel Kane / September 30, 2009

Five Democratic members of the Senate Finance Committee who voted on Tuesday to shoot down a proposed public option for the health care reform bill — a measure which polls show is favored by 81% of Democrats — are coming under close scrutiny for their ties to the health care industry.

According to Intershame.com — a site which aims to draw attention to misbehavior — those five senators have collectively been the recipients of over $19 million in donations from health care, pharmaceutical, and health insurance companies over the course of their Congressional careers.

Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) alone accounts for nearly $8 million of the total. In addition, five of his former staff members — including two former chiefs of staff — are now lobbyists representing organizations with a strong interest in the health care bill.

Joan Walsh of Salon took Baucus to task for his vote, writing, “So let’s get this straight: Baucus admits the public option would ‘hold insurance companies’ feet to the fire,’ but he voted against it? Is there any clearer evidence that Baucus is in the pocket of the health insurance industry?”

Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) comes in second on the Intershame list, with about $4 million in health industry donations, and Kent Conrad (D-ND) is third at around $3 million. Like Baucus, both Lincoln and Conrad have former chiefs of staff who are now health industry lobbyists.

Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com did some number-crunching last June which revealed the extent to which health insurance donations can influence Congressional voting. “Lobbying contributions appear to have the largest marginal impact on middle-of-the-road Democrats,” Silver wrote. “Liberal Democrats are likely to hold firm to the public option unless they receive a lot of remuneration from health care PACs. Conservative Democrats may not support the public option in the first place for ideological reasons, although money can certainly push them more firmly against it. But the impact on mainline Democrats appears to be quite large.”

Calls are already appearing at places like the liberal message board Democratic Underground for progressives to sponsor primary challenges to all three senators.

Bill Nelson (D-FL) at $2.5 million and Tom Carper (D-DE) at $1.5 million fill out the Intershame list. Both voted in favor of the weaker Schumer version of a public option, which would not include robust measure to control costs, but against the stronger version proposed by Sen. Jay Rockefeller. Carper has also been a prominent supporter of a “trigger,” which would activate a public option only “if there is no meaningful competition after a couple of years.”

“If money is the reason these five Democrats rejected the public option,” Intershame concludes, “then it only took a little over 19 million dollars over 20 years to buy the five votes the health insurance industry needed to kill any meaningful reform to their industry. 19 million dollars is nothing compared to the profits the insurance industry will make if a public option is defeated. They got a great deal for that 19 million. The American people? Not so much.

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2 Responses to Dems Who Voted Against Public Option : $19 Million in Healthcare Bucks

  1. It must be that darn lobbyist money that made turned them from their noble progressive ideals. It must only be the bad Dems that accept evil lobbyist money. The good Dems simply have bake sales to get campaign money.

    The mantra of progressives everywhere today is “Choice and Competition” and the chosen vehicle to deliver that is the healthcare Public Option. It is of course a lie. How do I know that? Let’s examine the liberal record on providing Americans with choice and competition.

    Where is the love of “choice and competition” in education? As recently as this year in DC and as far back as you want to track the issue, liberals have staunchly opposed providing any choices to Americans in education. Want to spend your tax money on a private school for your kids, too bad, can’t have that choice.

    Where is the love of “choice and competition” in social security? When Bush made social security reform a legislative priority in 2005, Democrats went on the attack. Give the American worker a choice in where to invest the social security money that is forcibly removed from their wages? Not a chance. Not to mention that if a worker dies before using the benefit, the government keeps the money. How nice, another slush fund for politicians.

    Nope, Progressives are lying about their enthusiasm for choice and competition for healthcare. Their real agenda is force a captive public to use government run solutions. They have eliminated choices for education and social security and forced people to use systems that deliver abysmal results at outrageous costs. Their plan is the same for healthcare. The last thing progressives want is consumer choice. They are desperate to find a way to hold Americans hostage to a government run healthcare system.

  2. I don’t approve of those people receiving $19,000,000, but I think the person who commented above me, also made a very valid and definite point/argument.

    As to ‘choice’ – it doesn’t matter who we ‘choose’ to put into office, or what ‘party’ we pick, because they’re all under the same umbrella of ‘politics’, and like anyone knows, you can’t trust them anymore than you can trust anyone who can be ‘bought off’ or influenced with money and personal gain.

    Let’s elect statesmen (and that includes women); let’s elect solid citizens, and let’s stop letting money rule the decision; let’s stop building the ‘roads to powerful profits’, by using the citizens as pavement.

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