K Street Money Flowing Into Deficit Panel
By Alexander Bolton
October 18, 2011
Members of the deficit-reduction supercommittee have raised
hundreds of thousands of dollars from special- interest
groups, including a significant chunk from healthcare
interests that want the panel to fail.
Healthcare political action committees gave more to the
deficit panel members than political action committees (PACs)
representing energy, defense and agriculture interests, which
could also be under the knife, according to fundraising
reports filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.), the third-ranking member of the
House Democratic leadership, does not sit on any regular
committees with jurisdiction over the health industry, but
has raised more than $57,000 from healthcare-related PACs
since his appointment to the debt supercommittee.
Some of his contributions come from interests that want to
minimize cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, such as the American
Hospital Association, HealthSouth Corp., DaVita Inc. - which
provides kidney dialysis treatment - and HCR Manor Care,
which specializes in assisted- living care.
Other supercommittee members on both sides of the aisle have
won contributions from healthcare interests since being
named to the panel.
Hospitals, medical-device manufacturers and home-care experts
in general would prefer that the supercommittee fail to reach
a deal, say lobbyists familiar with the health industry's
strategy toward the panel.
An impasse would trigger $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts to
defense and non-defense programs, including a 2 percent cut
to Medicare, but these healthcare groups believe this would
result in smaller cuts than a deal.
A handful of healthcare interests, however, do want a deal,
and they have also given contributions to some supercommittee
Doctors groups, for example, want a permanent fix to the
scheduled cuts in payments they receive from Medicare. In
every new Congress, doctors' groups spend vast sums of money
on lobbying and campaign contributions to influence
lawmakers to postpone the cuts.
They hope the supercommittee will find a permanent fix and
have given generously to its members.
Rep. Fred Upton (Mich.) received PAC contributions from the
American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the American
Academy of Otolaryngology, the American Academy of Physician
Assistants and the American Chiropractic Association in the
weeks after he was named one of three House Republicans on
the 12-member committee on Aug. 10.
Since then, Upton has raised more than $180,000 from PACs,
according to a fundraising report he filed Saturday with the
FEC. That includes nearly $70,000 from healthcare-industry
While the contributions might help ingratiate these interests
with the committee, their gifts make up only one of many
factors that will influence whether a deal is forged.
"The stakes are high for anybody that is part of the federal
budget, and healthcare is an enormous part of the federal
budget," said Steve Elmendorf, a principal at the lobbying
firm Elmendorf Ryan. "The reality is there are a lot of
stakeholders that have a lot at play, and healthcare is one
Elmendorf said companies are "going to make decisions based
purely on the numbers" and could decide the automatic cuts,
known as sequestration, would be better for business than a
But he questioned whether outside groups would have much
influence on the secretive negotiations.
"The 12 members begin with the predisposition that they're
going to get a deal. They're legislators. I think the ability
of outside groups to influence a deal or no deal is pretty
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), another member of the
supercommittee, has raised more than $130,000 from special-
interest PACs since being named the panel's co- chairman on
Nearly $20,000 of that total came from healthcare PACs while
at least $6,000 came from energy-industry PACs and at least
$2,000 came from defense-related companies - Raytheon and
Rep. Dave Camp (Mich.), the third House Republican on the
supercommittee, raised $705,000 in total contributions in the
third quarter of 2011, including more than $475,000 after
Healthcare companies and lobbyists hired to represent them
gave Camp's personal reelection fund at least $55,000 since
his appointment, according to fundraising data filed with
He received $5,000 contributions from the Ambulatory Surgery
Center Association's political action committee, the American
Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons' PAC and the American
Society of Plastic Surgeons.
Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) has received $30,000 from
healthcare-related PACs since he joined the supercommittee,
including $1,000 from General Electric, which could lose
business if defense spending receives deep cuts.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) has raised $21,000 from
healthcare PACs and $39,000 from other PACs since joining the
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) has raised more than $80,000 in PAC
contributions since early August. He collected $17,000 from
Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has collected over $41,000 from
healthcare PACs since joining the supercommittee. That
amount exceeded the $32,000 he raised from all other
industry PACs combined since Aug. 10.
Good-government watchdog groups have called on lawmakers to
suspend all fundraising activity while serving on the
supercommittee, but, so far, only Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.)
has agreed to a moratorium. He raised only $25,575 in the
third quarter of 2011.
Other members appear to have restrained their fundraising
activity in response to the criticism. Clyburn, Becerra,
Upton, Baucus and Toomey raised less through their personal
campaign accounts in the third quarter than in the second.
Only Hensarling and Van Hollen raised more in the third
quarter than in the first or second quarters.
The latest campaign fundraising reports for the remaining
members of the panel, Sens. Patty Murray (D- Wash.), Rob
Portman (R-Ohio) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), were not available at
Peter Sullivan and Mario Trujillo contributed to this report.
Portside aims to provide material of interest to people
on the left that will help them to interpret the world
and to change it.
Submit via email: [log in to unmask]
Submit via the Web: http://portside.org/submittous3
Frequently asked questions: http://portside.org/faq
Search Portside archives: http://portside.org/archive
Contribute to Portside: https://portside.org/donate