Cynical Synapse

Sat, 20 Mar 2010

Health Care Donates Big to Elected Officials

Filed under: Budget, Congress, Government, Life, Medicine, People, Politics, President — cynicalsynapse @ 10:39 pm

health care bills

With the US House of Representatives vote on health care reform now slated for Sunday, 21 March, Pres. Obama delayed his trip to Asia yet again. How do you think Indonesia and Australia feel being kicked to the curb for one vote in the House? Yeah, I get it’s important to Obama, but how, exactly, is he going to rangle the 216 needed votes? Or is he going to make back room deals with the holdouts, like he must have done with Kucinich (D-OH). That didn’t yield the desired waterfall of votes.

So, who are the holdouts? As for Michigan, not pro-life Democrat Dale Kildee who broke with fellow Rep. Bart Stupak, also a Democrat. Although Kildee has not received big money from health care political action committees (PACs), he voted yes on the overhaul bill in November and thinks the Senate version still prohibits using Federal funds for abortions. Stupak is not convinced and plans to vote no unless someone proves Federal funds can’t be used for abortion. Of fellow Democrats, he said:

Well, jeez, after you tell us no to our face—”You’re never going to get anything”—why would I suddenly think you’re going to give me something now? I’m a little slow, but I’m not that slow.

Nancy Pelosi hacking on the Constitution

There are others in opposition, of course, and it’s still not clear if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is considering the Slaughter rule to “deem” the Senate version passed and avoid an actual vote as required by the US Constitution. Article I, Section 7 is pretty crystal clear, if you ask me. “But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively.” So I don’t think a bill that says, in effect, we pass the other bill only we want these changes is constitutional. Period. Don’t get me started on the mandate for citizens to buy private health insurance.

In this long road to what many call ObamaCare, where has the health care industry been? Would it surprise you to know the health care industry has been donating to politicians all along? Last year, the industry donated $33,702,608 to our elected officials in Washington and spent $425,115,711 on lobbying. Since 1989—2 years after being elected a US Representative—House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has received $1,668,550 in donations from the health care sector, the majority from health care providers. Last year, health care interests gave Pelosi $291,100, or 31% of the PAC money she received.

The money trail leads to Michigan, as the following charts show. While the Center for Responsive Politics data covers 1989 to 2009, I’ve also pulled contribution data for 2009 only for US elected officials with over a million in health care industry donations and select officials who may be relevant to the current discussion.

Michigan’s US Representatives

District Representative Party HR 3962 Vote 1989-2009 $ 2009 Only $
1 Stupak D Yea 781,715 66,500
2 Hoekstra R No 167,435
3 Ehlers R No 256,585
4 Camp R No 2,016,604 270,550
5 Kildee D Yea 350,925 36,000
6 Upton R No 1,353,554 73,902
7 Schauer D Yea 161,338
8 Rogers R No 1,511,531 160,999
9 Peters D Yea 199,150
10 Miller R No 251,031
11 McCotter R No 303,774 64,500
12 Levin D Yea 1,000,460 90,000
13 Kilpatrick D Yea 308,375
14 Conyers D Yea 218,075
15 Dingell D Yea 2,411,042 103,000

Michigan’s US Senators

Senator Party 1989-2009 $ 2009 Only $
Levin D 802,332 0
Stabenow D 1,747,508 139,182

Pelosi and Reid

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) took in $466,060 from health care interests last year and $2,855,876 since 1989. No bias there, I’m sure. As for his counterpart, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi got $291,100 last year and $1,668,550 since 1998.

Comparatively, it looks like some of Michigan’s elected officials are doing very well in the big scheme of special interest donations. Of Michigan’s elected officials, 35% raked in significant funding (over $1 million) from health care since 1989. In fact, the Michigan delegation overall accepted $1 million or more just last year. So, health care is a political money maker. It will be interesting to see how Michigan’s big health care beneficiaries vote on the health care bill. I hope you’ve told your representative how you want them to vote. You might also ask them if they’ve read the bill; some don’t think they need to.


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