October 14, 2007

Is Hillary really a Corporatist?

In Michael Moore's movie, SiCKO, he makes a claim that Hillary is the number two recipient of campaign cash from the health care "industry." On Air America, liberal blogs, and elsewhere, it's an article of faith that Hillary is the "corporate candidate" and that she has their backs, not ours.

I got into a rather passionate discussion this past weekend with someone regarding just this assertion and challenged him to give me proof (links to voting records, etc) that she votes with the corporations over regular Americans. He came back the next day and let me know that he had gone out to try and find evidence for his assertion. Funny thing, what he found instead was a voting record completely at odds with the "conventional wisdom." I suspect he may have stumbled on this post by eriposte at The Left Coaster which begins:

This post examines the allegation that Sen. Hillary Clinton is a "Corporate Democrat" - namely, a person who is beholden to "Corporate America" and who is more likely to support "corporate interests" as President than the interests of average or middle-class Americans.

I find that the existing evidence, based on her Senatorial voting records compiled by Progressive Punch, Americans for Democratic Action, AFL-CIO and SEIU, does not really support this allegation. Indeed, the evidence suggests that Sen. Clinton's voting patterns are substantially and surprisingly progressive (ranging typically from 90-100%), including on corporate or labor issues. There are certainly serious issues where Sen. Clinton has unfortunately taken anti-progressive positions (e.g., her vote for a version of the Bankruptcy Bill in 2001), but the data reviewed here suggests that overall, she is far more progressive than corporatist. In the absence of additional or new data, I have to conclude that the label "Corporate Democrat", as applied to her, is inappropriate and extraordinarily misleading. In other words, while it is true that she has strong links to corporate America and corporatist interests, there is little or no evidence that she systematically votes in lock-step with those interests or even significantly in line with their positions. I provide a few plausible explanations for this dichotomy in the conclusions of this post.
Remember that claim that Michael Moore makes in SiCKO? Not so much:
3. Eli Lilly and the Pharmaceutical/Healthcare Industry

Penn's client list included Eli Lilly. Berman also adds:

Since the healthcare reform disaster of 1993-94, [Sen. Clinton] has rarely stuck her neck out on contentious issues. "She votes the issues that come up, rather than take the leadership role," says Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen. "We tried to do too much, too fast twelve years ago," Clinton told the Federation of American Hospitals last year, "and I still have the scars to show for it." She's now the number-one Congressional recipient of donations from the healthcare industry.

Let's first make one correction, via Media Matters:

A Newsday article on Sen. Hillary Clinton's health care reform proposal repeated an assertion made in a 2006 New York Times article that the health care "industry contributed more than $850,000 to her re-election campaign, the second highest level of contributions to any senator." But Newsday did not note that the number includes donations from individual health care professionals, such as nurses and doctors, and neither newspaper reported that if only health care PAC donations were considered -- that is, donations from the actual health care "industry" -- Clinton drops off the list of top 25 congressional recipients of health care industry money entirely.

That said, how is Sen. Clinton's voting record when it comes to pharmaceutical companies and healthcare?

Category Progressive Punch -
Progressive Score
Corporate Subsidies
(Overall)
100%
Corporate Subsidies
(Pharmaceutical Industry)
Not Available
Corporate Tax Breaks
(General)
96%
Corporate Tax Breaks
(Pharmaceutical Industry)
Not Available
Government Checks on Corporate Power
(Overall)
95%
Government Checks on Corporate Power
(Pharmaceutical Industry)
100%
Government Checks on Corporate Power
(Doctors)
100%
Government Checks on Corporate Power
(Hospitals)
100%
Healthcare 98%
Access to Health Insurance 100%
Aid to the Chronically Ill 97%
Aid to the Disabled 100%
Aid to Veterans 100%
Aid to Seniors 98%
See, the thing is, when you give a donation to a political candidate, they ask who your employer is. If you work for a hospital, you work for the health care industry. So, when it comes time to lump all the money together under an industry label, and if care is not take to distinguish between campaign contributions received from health care industry PACs and campaign contributions received from, say, a union nurse, we run right up against that old adage: "There are three types of lies - lies, damn lies, and statistics."

2 comments:

Nevada Mojo Rising said...

I can't get past the revenge illusion that I keep hearing. That's all we need.

cls said...

Huh? What do you mean the "revenge illusion?"