Health and insurance cash 2003 - 2008: $3.75 million
The Senate Finance chairman, Baucus has been leading the effort to forge a compromise. It’s not easy: Liberals are threatening to walk if there’s no public option, virtually all Republicans are openly hostile, and there are only a couple of moderate GOP members in play. And Baucus has drawn fire from his party caucus as well as the White House for his plodding approach at finding consensus. Still, the donors are flocking; in the first six months of the year, he pulled in $121,000 from the health-care industry. The interest in him is nothing new; from 2003 to 2008, he took in about $3 million in donations to his campaign committee and PAC from the health industry, and over $750,000 from the insurance industry—about a quarter of his total contributions during that time. His $1,171,025 in health-industry contributions during the 2008 cycle was the most of any senator other than the three major presidential candidates (John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Baucus recently circulated a new plan for review—which did not include a public option, but rather a less politically charged system of nonprofit co-ops. His industry benefactors must be pleased. Wednesday morning, Baucus said he intended to plow ahead and mark up legislation later this month—regardless of whether the GOP comes along for the ride.