( - promoted by KathyinBlacksburg)
Those of us who are old enough remember that "Deep Throat," the tip-off guy who fed information to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the Washington Post reporters seeking to unravel the scandal known as the Watergate break-in, said to "follow the money" have less trouble than some other people in figuring out why the Senate Finance Committee voted down the public option.
(By the way, for you younger folks, Mark Felts, who was an associate director of the FBI at the time, was the source for information that led Woodward and Bernstein to the information that ultimately uncovered the cover-up of the Watergate break-in which ultimately brought down the presidency of Richard Nixon, the only president to resign from the office.)
Taking Felt's long-ago advice, let's "follow the money" as we try to explain the vote in the Senate Finance Committee, where the public option was defeated 13-10 on Sen, Schumer's (D-NY) amendment. Note well: That's in a committee that has 13 Democrats and 10 Republicans. If the world worked as it should, the vote would have been 13-10 in favor.
The three Democrats who voted against a public option were Kent Conrad (D-ND), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), and Max Baucus (D-MT). It's easy to "follow the money." Just follow the campaign contributions.
|Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, who is up for re-election in 2010, has received $324,350 from the health care industry. (Second only to Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada! Who would have thought that the biggest feeder at the money trough would have been a Democrat, and the Senate leader at that? It's really no surprise to those of us who know that the elite behind the throne always gives the biggest bucks to the party in control at the time.)
Committee chair Max Baucus of Montana raked in $141,000 this year. Baucus has never been a supporter of the public option, instead covering himself with a state non-profit "co-operative," whatever that means.
Sen. Kent Conrad is the laggard in the money race, raking in only $51,000 from the health industry. Of course, North Dakota is a state with a small population and one where one company dominates the health insurance industry, to the tune of 90%.
Lest you think the lobbyists leave out the opposition party, Virginia's own Rep. Eric Cantor (R-7th) was the Republican to bring in the most from the health sector for the year ($199,550). He got $54,100 from health insurers and $76,400 from pharmaceuticals.
Please note that money can't buy all the people in the Senate. Chuck Schumer of New York got $257,400 from the health industry and Ron Wyden of Oregon received $221,450, yet neither had their votes up for sale.
Now, I realize that there may be valid reasons for the three Democrats to have voted against public option. However, when a politician takes that kind of money from the very people who have an obvious interest in keeping reform from happening, it is almost impossible not to judge them as "bought." If the situation is otherwise, they owe all of us an explanation.
The lie told to the American people is that money simply buys "access." I prefer the old-fashioned term, "bribery." When people invest vast sums of money in the re-election campaigns of politicians, they expect something in return. I know I do with the small amounts I give as contributions. It is an insult to my intelligence to tell me that the big corporate contributions aren't made with the expectation of a quid pro quo.