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Senate Finance Committee Public Option Vote and Campaign Contribution Ratios

September 30, 2009 - by Paul Blumenthal

In the continuing health care debate the public option remains as the key puzzle piece in the Democrats’ health care package. Today, the Senate Finance Committee is debating and voting on amendments to include a public option in their version of health care reform legislation. Both amendments to the bill were defeated in committee.

One of the biggest supporters of the public option is labor, a trusted ally of the Democrats. The public option has been opposed by many in the health sector. A comparison of voting behavior and campaign contributions may provide some more context to today’s committee votes.

The chart below shows Senate Finance Committee members, their contributions from the labor and health sectors from 2005-2010, the ratio of health contributions to labor contributions and their votes on the Rockefeller and Schumer public option amendments.

Ratio of Health to Labor Contributions to the Senate Finance Committee (2005-2010) and Public Option Votes
Name Party Labor Contributions (2005-2010) Health Contributions (2005-2010) Ratio (Health:Labor) Rockefeller Amendment Schumer Amendment
Mike Crapo R $2,000 $243,226 121.6:1 N N
Jon Kyl R $13,000 $1,188,238 91.4:1 N N
Chuck Grassley R $11,500 $651,627 56.7:1 N N
Jim Bunning R $2,500 $112,650 45.1:1 N N
John Cornyn R $27,250 $1,226,469 44.6:1 N N
John Ensign R $12,000 $521,575 43.5:1 N N
Orrin Hatch R $31,100 $1,020,334 32.8:1 N N
Pat Roberts R $12,000 $343,849 28.7:1 N N
Blanche Lincoln D $36,100 $641,004 17.8:1 N N
Mike Enzi R $26,500 $423,749 16.0:1 N N
Maria Cantwell D $22,500 $353,342 15.7:1 Y Y
Ron Wyden D $39,000 $370,175 9.5:1 Y Y
Max Baucus D $207,925 $1,763,799 8.5:1 N N
Olympia Snowe R $103,750 $367,549 3.5:1 N N
Kent Conrad D $253,750 $652,178 2.6:1 N N
Debbie Stabenow D $284,125 $737,243 2.6:1 Y Y
Bill Nelson D $241,890 $613,594 2.5:1 N Y
Jay Rockefeller D $240,800 $605,400 2.5:1 Y Y
Chuck Schumer D $140,500 $298,650 2.1:1 Y Y
John Kerry D $103,248 $188,558 1.8:1 Y Y
Jeff Bingaman D $229,500 $366,414 1.6:1 Y Y
Tom Carper D $180,010 $287,406 1.6:1 N Y
Robert Menendez D $400,100 $603,343 1.5:1 Y Y

This data could tell us one of two things: (1) Democrats are far more likely to get money from Labor for ideological reasons; (2) The ratio of health to labor contributions effects the way senators will vote on the public option. It could also be both of these.

For senators voting on the Rockefeller amendment, 58% of those with a 10:1 or under ratio of health to labor contributions voted for the amendment. When that ratio is brought down to 3:1 and under, 67% of senators voted for the amendment.

On the Schumer amendment, 75% of those with a 10:1 or under ratio of health to labor contributions voted for the amendment. When that ratio is brought down to 3:1 and under, 89% of senators voted for the amendment.

There is perfect consistency for No votes for both amendments and in both ranges of 10:1 and over and 3:1 and over. Those senators with a 10:1 or over ratio of health to labor contributions voted against both amendments 91% of the time. Senators with a 3:1 or over ratio of health to labor contributions voted against both amendments 86% of the time.

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