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Baucus (D) draws big money from Health [Insurance] Industry
Billings News ^ | 12 March 2009 | Cathy Siegner

Posted on 04/21/2009 8:45:39 AM PDT by Lorianne

A new study released this week by a California advocacy group shows that U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., has received more campaign contributions from health insurance firms and pharmaceutical manufacturers over the past four years than any other Democrat in Congress.

According to the Consumer Watchdog study using Federal Election Commission data, Sen. Baucus has received $413,000 since 2005 from insurance companies and drug makers, third behind U.S. Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

The study by Santa Monica-based Consumer Watchdog ( was the subject of a story in Sunday’s Washington Post, which also noted that the ailing U.S. healthcare system appears poised for significant reform, possibly this year.

Sen. Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has already had a lot of influence on the discussion, including issuing a “white paper” last fall advocating mandatory health-insurance coverage in the United States.

He has indicated that he doesn’t favor a single-payer approach to health coverage in this country, a position at odds with the ever-growing number of his constituents who have had it with the health-insurance industry. Sen. Baucus has said that the United States needs a combination of public and private coverage and that the country “isn’t ready” for a single-payer system.

Predictably defensive quotes were included in the Post story, including this one from Baucus spokesman Tyler Matsdorf: “For 30 years, Max Baucus has only been influenced by one thing: what’s right for Montana and what is right for the nation. Health-care reform is the same. His only goal is to make sure that every American has access to quality, affordable health care.”

He also noted that Montana’s senior senator has taken many stances counter to the interests of health insurance and drug companies, which, after three decades in Congress, isn’t surprising.

Politicians whose actions become linked to contributions almost always protest the implication. Yet those who have worked for members of Congress (including yours truly) or been close to the political process in other ways know that contributors don’t make campaign donations unless they’re pretty sure that doing so could help them out in some way, and Sen. Baucus is uniquely positioned to do just that.

Complaints about our ludicrously expensive and inadequate healthcare system have only grown since the abortive 1993 revamping attempt by the newly elected Clinton administration (remember the Harry and Louise scare campaign?). Since then, however, more and more people have become fed up and aren’t going to take much more of a healthcare system that eats up a record 17.6 percent of the economy yet doesn’t give them the care they want and need.

President Barack Obama convened a healthcare summit last week at the White House and is sounding like he wants to do something substantive about the situation sooner rather than later. Industry officials knew this was coming for some time and seem to be resigned to the inevitable.

But, resigned or not, they’re going to do whatever they can to make sure that the reform we get is the reform they want us to have. And that’s where Sen. Baucus and his colleagues come in.

Babcock book

Former Republican Gov. Tim Babcock and his wife, Betty, have written a book with Linda Grosskopf entitled, “Challenges: Above and Beyond.” They were to participate in a book-signing event this week at the Montana Historical Society.

The book details Mr. Babcock’s political life from his early years as a legislator to his elevation to the governorship in 1962 after Don Nutter died in a plane crash. He won a full four-year term as governor in 1964, but was denied re-election in 1968 by Forrest Anderson.

Not included is the role Mr. Babcock played in the mid-1960s vetoing a clean air law for the state, detailed in a January 1969 Good Housekeeping article focusing on the devastation to people, animals and the land caused by the Rocky Mountain Phosphate Co. plant at Garrison. The uproar his opposition to the bill caused might have cost Mr. Babcock his 1966 U.S. Senate bid against Democratic incumbent Lee Metcalf, according to the article.

In the early 1970s, Mr. Babcock became involved with oil baron Armand Hammer, whom he calls a “scoundrel” in the book, and ended up pleading guilty to making $54,000 in illegal donations to President Richard Nixon’s re-election campaign. He was sentenced to prison for four months, but never served any time.

Betty Babcock has most recently been involved in trying to locate the planned Montana History Center at the site of the Capital Hill Mall in Helena. However, a fund-raising attempt she spearheaded only raised about $100,000 of the $13-million goal, and the center will most likely be built across the street from the current Historical Society.

Leaving Iraq

President Obama has ordered 12,000 U.S. soldiers withdrawn from Iraq over the next six months as part of his plan to begin reducing the American presence there and start shifting the country’s military focus to Afghanistan.

Gen. Raymond Odierno, the top American commander in Iraq, was quoted as saying that the time is right to start scaling back our troops there and that the provincial elections in January showed that the Iraqi security forces are capable of providing sufficient security. A larger test of this capability will likely take place in the fall when Iraq holds national elections.

Quote of the week

“This is the next big fight on Capitol Hill. Now that Obama is about to start making health care one of his greatest priorities, we are going to see these legions of health-care campaign contributions and lobbying activity as they try to win a seat at the table.” – Craig Holman of Common Cause, in the March 9 Washington Post.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Government

1 posted on 04/21/2009 8:45:39 AM PDT by Lorianne
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To: Lorianne

One thing that no politician mentions is the price of health insurance charged by the insurance companies. The always talk about the cost of health insurance but never the insurance companies.

2 posted on 04/21/2009 8:49:23 AM PDT by RC2 (FREEDOM)
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To: RC2

And the fact that is no free market in Health Insurance. It’s a government (States) run protection racket.

Those who say we have a free market health insurance system are sorely mistaken. Only a few insurers are allowed to do business in each state, what they offer and their prices are regulated like a public utility, and you cannot buy insurance across state lines.

That’s not the free market.

3 posted on 04/21/2009 8:56:15 AM PDT by Lorianne
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