March 19, 2010

If the health care vote comes down to money...

We're trying not to be cynical about the upcoming vote this weekend on President Obama's health care proposal -- but it's hard.

We don't remember who first came up with the line, "We have the best politicians money can buy." but the phrase keeps coming to mind.

A Washington Post database (hat tip to the Journal Sentinel for finding it) shows in which direction every member of the House is leaning... and also how much he or she may have been influenced by health care industry cash.

Why, lookee here, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-WI, 1st District, has received $1,125,233 from industry lobbyists -- more than any other Wisconsin lawmaker. And the payoffs -- um, campaign contributions -- received by some others aren't so shabby, either: Rep. David Obey, D-WI, 7th District (Stevens Point), got $886,894; and Rep. Ron Kind, D-WI, 3rd District (LaCrosse), got $841,913. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-WI, 4th (Milwaukee), by the way, scraped the bottom of the barrel in health care industry contributions -- a paltry $88,472, the only Wisconsin lawmaker who failed to reach six digits. For the record, only 33 of the House's 435 members, received more than Ryan. The leader was New York's Charles Rangel, D-15th, with an eye-popping $3,867,249.

All told, Wisconsin's eight House members collected $4,347,116. So much for influence you hoped to achieve with that $10 you were gonna mail in...

The Washington Post's database also shows the percentage of uninsured people in each of the Congressional districts. Our First District figure is 10.1% uninsured. Obey's 7th District is the worst in Wisconsin, at 12%. Best is Jim Sensenbrenner's (R-5th District, Waukesha), with just 6.2% uninsured.

The Post's prediction, by the way, is that Ryan will vote no, along with Sensenbrenner and Tom Petri, R-WI, 6th (Sheboygan); It predicts yes votes from Tammy Baldwin, D-WI, 2nd (Madison); and Moore. No surprises here; that's how each of them voted in November when the health care proposal failed to get the necessary 216 votes, going down by 208 nay, to 168 yea.


  1. Time the Shrubber3/19/2010 2:24 PM

    How is "health care industry cash" defined?

    If I hypothetically worked as a lab tech for a drug company and gave money to a candidate for whatever reason, would it counted "health care industry cash"?

  2. It is sad but I know many small business people who have put off hiring people due to the healthcare bill. I have been told repeatedly if it passes they will hire contractors, not employees, in the future. To me it would have been far better to ignore the White House and congressional leaders and start over. The current pork and debt filled bill is going to drive the US into bankruptcy.

    PS I'm not a GOP person. Just a fed up independent.

  3. If this passes the dems lose everything in November. The polls all indicate by a great margin that no healthcare bill in Washington at this point is close to popular. Pelosi and the gang are running the lemmings over the cliff. Every lost dem seat in November will be on Pelosi's and Reed's heads.

    Apparently, the results of the eastern elections this past year didn't get the message through to the president or congressional leaders. I have never seen such off the wall behavior in Washington.

  4. If over 50% of the population is against this bill. How do elected officials in favor think they are representing their constiuents? Their not they are supporting stretched face Pelosi and the Supreme Ruler.

  5. Over 50% are sick of the whole enchilada. If you ask them whether they like individual parts of it, they certainly do.

    Lawmaking is like sausage making. You don't want to know what goes in.

    If a few dems lose their jobs, ok. After the vote passes, people will begin to like it more.

    Let's just get it done.

  6. Anon,. 2:46,

    Small business gets a 50 percent tax credit for any new health benefits for their employees. If any small businesses are holding off hiring on account of the health-care bill (which I seriously doubt), then they're holding off hiring until the bill passes, not fails, so they can get this help providing benefits for their workers.

    The bill provides significant benefits for small businesses that now can't afford to provide health benefits for their workers. Once it passes, they'll be in a much better position to do so.

    Read the bill!

  7. Lots of other terrific things happen immediately with the bill as well:

    - Lifts annual and lifetime caps, so insurance companies can't turn down coverage because it's too expensive.

    - Provides immediate coverage for people who've been turned down for pre-existing conditions.

    - Allows children to remain on their parents' plans until they're 26 and out of college, instead of cutting them off when they're 21.

    - Guarantees coverage for children with disabilities so they're not dropped at will by insurance companies.

    - Helps close the donut hole for senior citizens with high prescription costs.

    - Sets up an independent appeals process so insurance company "death panels" can't automatically decide against your treatment (you know, so they won't be allowed to kill grandma anymore).

    ... and much, much more ...

    Read the bill!

  8. I like all the new taxes. I like that the taxes kick in before the "benifets"
    I like how we are told we will like it. I love the fact that in November we can get out of office lots of the Dems who vote for this.

  9. The bill also will ultimately cut the federal deficit by more than $1 trillion, $138 billion in the first 10 years.

  10. And like both Social Security and Medicare, the health-care reform bill pays for itself while controlling spiraling medical costs and halting reliance on untold future borrowing.

  11. Anon,. 4:30,

    Obviously, you haven't read the bill. Unless you and your wife make more than $250,000 a year (ok, maybe you do?) or spend more than $27,000 on your family's health insurance, you don't pay any new taxes whatsoever under the bill.

    Read the bill!

  12. Anon, 4:30,

    Oh, and the benefits listed above kick in immediately. That means right away. But you're right, the really, really good stuff will take a little longer.

  13. Anon 4:13 - you are just another person who knows nothing about small business. Business hires people based on what the market is telling them is needed, not on whether they get a "tax break" to hire someone who may or may not be needed to fulfill orders, do R&D, whatever. The humor here is that the taxes have been jacked up higher and higher, making many businesses margins razor thin, NOW they are getting a "break" to hire people.

  14. I have to re-post these words written by a "Great American" from Racine, Wisconsin

    Randolph said...

    I want a strong defense for my country … but I don’t want to pay for it.
    I want my garbage picked up … but I don’t want to pay for it.
    I want the police to come when I call … but I don’t want to pay for it.
    I want kids to go to school … but I don’t want to pay for it.
    I want people to have enough to eat … but I don’t want to pay for it.
    I want homeless people off my street … but I don’t want to pay for it.
    I want kids to get health care … but I don’t want to pay for it.
    I want old people secure … but I don’t want to pay for it.
    I want sick old people cared for … but I don’t want to pay for it.
    I want bad guys locked up … but I don’t want to pay for it.
    I want streets and roads … but I don’t want to pay for it.
    I want more jobs … but I don’t want to pay for it.
    I want disabled people helped … but I don’t want to pay for it.
    I want college for smart kids … but I don’t want to pay for it.
    I want natural disasters fixed … but I don’t want to pay for it.
    I want more teachers … but I don’t want to pay for it.
    I want more police officers … but I don’t want to pay for it.
    I want safer food … but I don’t want to pay for it.
    I want sewers … but I don’t want to pay for it.
    I want clean water … but I don’t want to pay for it.
    I want clean air … but I don’t want to pay for it.
    I want a strong economy … but I don’t want to pay for it.
    I want peace … but I don’t want to pay for it.
    I want snow and ice cleared … but I don’t want to pay for it.
    I want everything I have now and more … but I don’t want to pay for it.

    Tea, anyone?

  15. Anon, 6:20,

    I (4:13) never suggested the health-care bill would make a difference in whether small business hires - one way or another. It will, however, help small business provide better benefits for their employees at less cost, thus increasing their opportunities to attract better employees when they do hire.

  16. PEORIA — Caterpillar Inc. is urging Congress to reject the health care reform bill now pending before it because of consequences the company believes it will have for the company as well as its retirees.

    In a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader John Boehner, Caterpillar expressed disappointment in reform efforts put forth so far and said the legislation would drive up the company’s health costs by more than 20 percent — or more than $100 million — in the first year alone.

    The company, in the letter signed by Gregory Folley, vice president and chief human resources officer, said while it supports reform itself it believes the current legislation “is not in the best interest of Caterpillar or the more than 150,000 employees, retirees and dependents that we cover.”

    Caterpillar earlier spearheaded a campaign by the chief financial officers of several large manufacturing companies to express concerns about the pending legislation.

    A letter to Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and signed by 10 corporate CFOs — including Caterpillar’s Dave Burritt — also addressed the cost that companies, employees and retirees would incur with the legislation.

    The biggest single problem noted is that the health bill would tax Medicare Part D. That, said Folley, would drive up costs enough it would “put at risk the coverage our current employees and retirees receive.”

    Spokeswoman Bridget Young said Caterpillar has supported health care reform, but not at the expense of workers and retirees.

    “All along, Caterpillar has recognized the need to address reform of the current health care system, but in a manner that increases quality and value for patients while reducing costs,” she said.

    Taxing Medicare Part D “would be a big enough disadvantage that it would likely cause some companies to change the way they provide prescription drug coverage for their retirees,” she said.

  17. Moneynews
    Obamacare Hits Middle Class Hard, Pricing Them Out of Insurance
    Friday, March 19, 2010 03:03 PM

    By: Dan Weil

    While President Barack Obama emphasizes that it’s the wealthy who will help finance his healthcare reform, the middle class would get socked pretty hard too, says Scott Gottlieb, a physician and resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

    Health reform will leave many of them newly priced out of a transformed market for health insurance, he says.

    “The hardest hit won't be those earning more than $250,000 a year — the group that he (Obama) says needs to ‘pay their fair share,’" Gottlieb says.

    “Rather, it's families whose combined annual income is around $100,000 who could be crushed under this plan,” he wrote in a recent New York Post opinion piece.

    People at that income level make too much too qualify for subsidies under the Democrats’ reform plan, but probably too little to easily afford the expensive insurance that the plan requires them to buy, Gottlieb argues.

    Many families who earn about $100,000 a year will have to purchase a policy costing an average of $14,700 for the mid-level, "silver" health plan, according to the Congressional Budget Office's estimates, he writes.

    “After income taxes, they'll be spending almost a quarter of their net income for health insurance.”

    And what will be the end result? “Many of these middle-class families will probably opt to pay the federal fine and go without health insurance until they get sick,” Gottlieb explains.

    Families making more than $250,000 don’t escape pain either. They will face a 2.9 percent surcharge tax on unearned income and a 0.9 percentage-point increase in Medicare payroll taxes.

    Who does benefit from Obama's plan?

    Drugmakers, device companies and health insurers all got some good news when Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives released changes to healthcare reform legislation on Thursday, the Associated Press reported.

    Hefty taxes on those three industries were delayed by at least a year, among other adjustments to the bill that seeks to overhaul the nation's healthcare system.

  18. Everybody who has vested retiree insurance from their former company that pays their Medicare Part D premium, raise you hand.

    Anybody? Anybody at all?

  19. Everybody who makes more than $100,000 a year and doesn't already have health insurance, raise your hand.

    Anybody? Anybody at all?

    Anon 11:58 and 12:04's just blowin' smoke with "authoritative" sounding bull that affects, like, nobody in reality.

    They've never had good arguments, so they're just makin' up more stuff to scare you.

  20. I am a middle income American and I support the Obama Plan. It is about time the US catches up with the rest of the industrialized world. My children are working hard to earn a living, but do not have health Insurance from their employers and can not afford to pay for it on their own. This plan will offer them a basic level of coverage that all Americans should have.

    I believe that most Americans will support this bill once they really understand what it does for them!

  21. Don't see how a bill that provides access to private health insurance for more people is characterized as socialism, any more than buying car insurance, also from private companies, is socialism.

    Then again, car insurance could be a socialist plot too. Did you know that GEICO actually stands for Government Employee Insurance Company, and that the little green lizard who sells it also wasn't born in the United States?

    Just a coincidence? Maybe not ...

  22. I am so glad that millions of dollars are paid to pig politicians by pig insurance companies to make pig laws to enrich more pigs. Yes, this is representative democracy at its best: pigs wallowing in cash.

    Oink, oink!

  23. Gosh Pete, is this a news article? No? Then where's the "opinion" label?

  24. At the Journal-Sentinel (nice attribution on sourcing, so some journalistic integrity still prevails)they call it the "Editorial We". Here they just gloss over or muddy the differences between news and opinion.