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HealthCare Reform vs Industry Payoff and GOP Spin

Posted by italco on July 21, 2009

Congress

As liberal protesters marched outside,  Sen. Max Baucussat down inside a San Francisco mansion for a dinner of chicken cordon bleu and a discussion of landmark health-care legislation under consideration by his Senate Finance Committee.  At the table on May 26 were about 20 donors willing to fork over $10,000 or more to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, including executives of major insurance companies, hospitals and other health-care firms.

As his committee has taken center stage in the battle over health-care reform, Chairman Baucus (D-Mont.) has emerged as a leading recipient of Senate campaign contributions from the hospitals, insurers and other medical interest groups hoping to shape the legislation to their advantage. Top health executives and lobbyists have continued to flock to the senator’s often extravagant fundraising events in recent months. During a Senate break in late June, for example, Baucus held his 10th annual fly-fishing and golfing weekend in Big Sky, Mont., for a minimum donation of $2,500. Later this month comes “Camp Baucus,” a “trip for the whole family” that adds horseback riding and hiking to the list of activities.

The sector gave nearly $170 million to federal lawmakers in 2007 and 2008, with 54 percent going to Democrats, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks money in politics. The shift in parties was even more pronounced during the first three months of this year, when Democrats collected 60 percent of the $5.4 million donated by health-care companies and their employees, the data show.

Many of these contributions have been focused on Baucus,  Charles E. Grassley(R-Iowa) and other senators in the moderate camps of their respective parties, whose votes could prove crucial in a final health-care reform deal, as well as the leaders of five key committees leading the debate. Grassley, the Finance Committee’s ranking Republican, received more than $2 million from the health and insurance sectors since 2003. House Ways and Means Chairman  Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) took in $1.6 million from the health sector and its employees over the past two years; ranking Republican  Dave Camp (Mich.) received nearly $1 million.

Top out-of-state corporate contributors included Schering-Plough, New York Life Insurance, Amgen, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield; individual executives such as Richard T. Clark, chief executive and president of drugmaker Merck, have also made regular donations. Most of these companies, particularly major insurers, strongly oppose a public insurance option, which is favored by President Obama and top House Democrats but has not received support from Baucus’s committee. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/20/AR2009072003363.html?wpisrc=newsletter

Emboldened by divided Democrats and polls that show rising public anxietyabout President Obama’s handling of health care and the economy, Republicans on Monday launched an aggressive effort to link the two, comparing the health-care bills moving through Congress to what they labeled as a failed economic stimulus bill.

“The last time the president made grand promises and demanded passage of a bill before it could be reviewed, we ended up with the colossal stimulus failure and unemployment near 10 percent,”  Sen. Jim DeMint(R-S.C.) said. “Now the president wants Americans to trust him again, but he can’t back up the utopian promises he’s making. “He insists his health-care plan won’t add to our nation’s deficit, despite the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office saying exactly the opposite,” DeMint added. “And today we learn that the president is refusing to release a critical report on the state of our economy, which contains facts essential to this debate. What is he hiding?”

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele said in a speech Mondaythat Obama is “conducting a dangerous experiment with our health care.” Steele added: “He’s conducting a reckless experiment with our economy.”

Lacking unity on an alternative agenda to Obama’s health-care plans, Republicans have instead focused on a strategy of rallying public opposition and wooing the conservative Democrats in Congress, whose votes will ultimately determine the fate of any health-care bill. That plan depends in large part on Congress going on break before it votes on a bill. On Monday, though, Republicans made clear that they see an opportunity to derail the legislation now.

The RNC started running ads blasting the Democratic proposals, and William Kristol, editor of the conservative magazine the Weekly Standard, implored Republicansto “go for the kill.” “We have plenty of time to work next year on sensible and targeted health reform in a bipartisan way. But first we need to get rid of Obamacare. Now is the time to do so,” Kristol wrote on his magazine’s blog.

Democrats, meanwhile, say that Republicans are offering few ideas to improve the health-care system.

“Despite the crisis that confronts American families, the GOP continues to argue for the status quo on behalf of the special interests,” said Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. “If we do nothing, as the Republican ‘Party of No’ would have us do, we not only will ensure more of the same but guarantee a growing crisis that will put a burden on our children that they will never overcome.”

“Instead of doing nothing and using insurance industry talking points to defend the broken health-care system we currently have, Republicans should work with us or at least put forward some new ideas,” said Doug Thornell, a spokesman for  Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), a Democratic leader in the House. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/20/AR2009072002273_2.html?wpisrc=newsletter&sid=ST2009072003679

I am disgusted with our law makers. This is the reality of how business is obviously being conducted in Washington. I remember my business ethics instructor attempting to teach us the meaning of ethics and the conflict of interest involved in being in a decision making position and accepting gratuities. This is the heart of it all. This is why our country was economically destroyed. Senators accepting money from lobbyist and holding fundraisers for political and personal gain. Fundraisers should be for charity, not for special interest groups to have the ear of the Board who govern them in exchange for money.

It doesn’t matter if you are republican or democrat. This is un-acceptable behavior. We need to stop corruption in Congress and only have our votes to do it with. 88% of congress is up for re-election in 2010. Pay attention to how the Representatives and Senators in your area are behaving…vote out those who engage in un-ethical and corrupt behavior.

“Beat The Drum”

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