Health Care Reform Opponents Hold $7 to $1 Edge in Contributions

July 30, 2007

Madison - Special interests that oppose a universal health care plan in the Senate Democrats’ proposed state budget contributed $18.08 million to current legislators and the governor from 1999 through 2006 – over seven times more than the $2.5 million in contributions from supporters of the plan, a Wisconsin Democracy Campaign analysis shows.

Universal health care opponents contributed $10.81 million to current legislators versus $1.64 million in contributions from supporters from 1999 through 2006. The opponents’ contributions represent 53 percent of the total $20.23 million in large special interest contributions current legislators have accepted in the last four, two-year election cycles. Supporters’ contributions represent 8 percent.

Democratic Governor Jim Doyle, who does not support the Senate Democrats’ universal health plan, accepted $7.27 million, or 48 percent, of his total large special interest contributions from universal care opponents, compared to $857,697, or 6 percent, from those who support the Senate plan.

Republicans control the Assembly 52-47 and Democrats control the Senate 18-15. The budget and the fate of the universal health care plan is now before an eight-member conference committee of four Democratic and four Republican legislative leaders from each house who will craft a compromise budget that can be passed by both houses and sent to Doyle.

Last week, WDC reported the plan’s opponents contributed $4.38 million from 1999 through 2006 to Assembly Republicans who removed the universal health care plan when they passed their version of the budget. Those contributions comprise 66 percent of the Assembly GOP’s total large special interest contributions compared to $115,089, or 2 percent from supporters of universal health care.

WDC’s latest analysis shows the other three caucuses also got substantially more support from opponents than supporters of the Senate’s universal health care plan (see Chart).

Senate Republicans, who voted against the majority Democrats’ budget and strongly criticized the health plan, accepted $3.51 million, or 62 percent, of their large special interest contributions from opponents of universal health care compared to $81,490, or 1 percent, from the plan’s supporters.

Assembly Democrats accepted $1.26 million, or 31 percent, of their large special interest contributions from opponents of the plan compared to $797,823, or 20 percent, from supporters of the plan.

Even Senate Democrats got more of their campaign cash from opponents rather than supporters of their health plan. The plan’s opponents gave Senate Democrats $1.66 million, or 42 percent, of the large special interest campaign contributions they raised from 1999 through 2006 compared to $643,380, or 16 percent, from supporters.

Large Individual and Political Action Committee Contributions
From Supporters and Opponents
of the Senate Democrats’ Health Care Plan

Chart: Large Individual and PAC Contributions from Health Care Reform Supporters and Opponents to Legislature

Opponents of universal health care include insurance, business, hospitals, manufacturers, banking, health maintenance organizations, agriculture, telecommunications, transportation, utility, construction and restaurant interests.

Supporters include nearly three dozen organizations, including labor unions, advocacy groups for the elderly, poor and people with mental and physical disabilities and left-leaning political groups that have formed the Wisconsin Health Care Reform Campaign. The organizations include AARP, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Planned Parenthood, Service Employees International Union, Wisconsin Council of Churches, Wisconsin Laborers District Council, the League of Women Voters, the state NAACP, the state AFL-CIO, Wisconsin Education Association Council and the Greater Wisconsin Committee.

The Greater Wisconsin Committee is a Milwaukee-based phony issue ad group that spent an estimated $4.5 million mostly on negative broadcast advertising to support Doyle and Democratic legislative candidates in the 2006 elections and Supreme Court candidate Linda Clifford in the 2007 spring elections.