I have often contended that, in studying politics, one must only follow the money to discover the motivations of such and such politician in proposing such and such bill.
Exhibit A: Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky) this week proposed a bill, swiftly refuted by Democrats, that George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the rich be continued indefinitely.
According to this New York Times story, McConnell recently had this to say on the floor of the Senate: “Democrats spent the last two years putting government in charge of health care, the financial sector, car companies, insurance companies, student loans — you name it. Now they want the tax hike to pay for it all.”
Put it like that and you might say Democrats have ushered in a new era of socialism, but alas, so go the usual sad and tired refrains.
But let’s have a look at where McConnell’s own interests lie and then draw some conclusions of our own.
OpenSecrets.org reports that McConnell’s top contributors between 2005-2010 have been Kindred Healthcare ($108,200), UBS AG (A global financial services company at $98,450), Elliott Management (An investment company, $88,500), Peabody Energy ($73,600) and Citigroup ($66,100).
Since McConnell’s largest contributor is part of the health care industry, it makes sense that his first nod in the above quote is, indeed, to the government taking a larger role in health care. He’s wrong, of course, since the government isn’t being put “in charge of health care,” but helping people pay for their health care by private providers with public money. This, as it happens, already occurs, and has for years, through programs like Medicaid and Social Security. Thus, conservative angst against the health care bill breaks against itself. We already use public money to provide free health care to certain members of our populace. Why not everyone? McConnell drives a hard case against finding a way to make sure every person in this nation is taken care of.
The one pleasant surprise on the issue of letting the tax cuts for the rich expire is the case of House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio. I have been quite critical of him in the past. But I have to commend the man in this instance for at least saying he would vote for President Obama’s plan to extend the cuts only for households earning less than $250,000 if he had no other choice, even if it was, to some degree, forced.
Winning a war by attrition is better than ceding the war altogether in some cases. So, even if Boehner isn’t necessarily interested in helping working class folks, at least he seems to have given a nod to such an idea, although his associations with wealthy interests speaks for itself.