Senate Finance Committee Public Option Vote and Campaign Contribution Ratios


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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  • BUSTED! Government Healthcare Advocate Admits Public Option is Trojan Horse!

  • Don P

    Thanks, Paul, for making an excellent point.

    It’s interesting to see how people come to the defense of the insurance industry and the senators who represent them (as opposed to representing their constituency). One or two Senators who happen to vote in the interests of their biggest contributor might be a matter of voting their conscience regardless of how much money they receive from them. But when such a voting pattern is consistent across the board, it stretches credulity to the breaking point to attribute that to coincidence.

    I don’t doubt your statistics, but wonder where, and how, you found them (I’d love to know how to do that kind of research). Thanks for an excellent post!

  • Say America itz time to connect the dots between Wall Street and the Insurance & Drug Companies and how Health Care Reform impacts their profits.After all they are the driving force behind the negative propaganda regarding Health Care Reform.

  • S. Robinson

    I hope everyone will wake up and realize the truth behind their vote and why our insurance cover is so high.

  • John Thacker

    When the full Senate votes, it’s great because you can compare two Senators with the same electorate. That enables you to see that, e.g., on CAFTA, while Midwestern Republicans were against it, they were still more likely to be for it than Midwestern Democrats, and a similar thing (Republicans more likely to be for it) in states that largely favored CAFTA.

  • As John indicated above the conclusions you draw are a bit hasty. Correlation is not necessarily causation.

    If a senator gets elected on a strong business/free enterprise platform, it would follow that all kinds of industries would flock to his banner. That would not necessarily prove that his vote was purchased.

  • bud

    you misspelled committee

  • John Thacker

    That’s because Idaho, Mike Crapo’s state, has one of the lowest rates of unionization.

  • John Thacker

    Unfortunately, committee votes are a lot harder to do the best possible Senate vote comparison that you can do when the entire Senate votes– comparing the votes of the two senators from the same state.

    After all, states have very different political opinions, and the Senators could be accurately reflecting their state’s views. If a Senator is voting the way that 60% or more of their state electorate agrees with, does it really matter how much money he or she got? Since their are two Senators with the same electorate from each state, it’s interesting to compare them.

    If a state has a lot of insurance jobs in the state, then a senator is both going to get a lot of contributions, and is going to want to protect local jobs. Constituents may want to preserve their jobs.

    As well, money sometimes follows votes, rather than the other way around. If a Senator is 100% honest in being pro-union, or being against the public option, the interested parties will donate money even if they don’t need affect the vote. They want their allies re-elected.

    Note in particular that Jim Bunning of KY, who has already announced his retirement, got the smallest amount of money of anyone. Despite retiring and presumably not needing campaign money, he voted the same way.

    Also, some states have very different numbers of unionized employees. A senator from a state with more unionized employees is both going to be more likely to get union contributions, and be more likely to vote the way that the unions and their members want.

    A ratio is also confusing, because it produces results like Mike Crapo, who got the third smallest amount of money from the health insurance company, but got very little union money. Partially that’s because one of the lowest rates of unionization in the country.

    • I don’t disagree with any of your points. This post was mainly an idea I had and thought I’d put up the numbers that resulted. There are countless reasons for a lawmaker to support a bill or oppose a provision. This was simply a thought experiment and I don’t think I drew any real conclusions here. Just putting the numbers out. Thanks for your input.