Eric Cantor, Republican, House of Representatives, Minority Whip. Cantor touts his loyalty to taxpapers, and insists that government needs to stay out of health care. Except for medicare of course, since that is popular.
Since the year 2007, Cantor has recieved $157,000 in campaign funds from health insurers. Nobody else in he entire House got that much money from that industry. Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for Cantor, said that “when citizens invest in Mr. Cantor’s campaign, they are investing in his agenda and not the other way around.”
Let me think about that one. For one thing, I am not really comfortable with the use of the word “invest” there. When you invest, you expect to get money back, right? I guess that is how many of us look at public policy, what’s in it for me, but I would like to think that some of us are capable of voting for the Right thing, not just the thing that will make us money.
Cantor asserted back in July that “two out of three americans who get their health care through their employer will lose it” under plan offered by House Democrats. Cantor cited the Lewin Group as his source for this assertion, a “nonpartisan” source. The Lewin Group, it turned out later, is a wholly owned subsidiary of United Health Group, a Minnesota based managed care provider who gave Cantor $28,000 for his campaigns.
Cantor apparently practices “pay to play” access for lobbyists. There is a Starbucks at 237 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C., a couple blocks from Cantor’s office. “Coffee with Cantor” will cost you $2500. If you pony up, you get some face time with the congressman for four brief morning chats. That’s a bargain, actually only a little over $600 per chat? I wonder if I could get in on that? Probably not. As Larry Sabato, University of Virginia politics expert observes, Cantor is a “classic business Republican”. So, he’s eager to hear your concerns if you are a businessman who has money to buy his face time. But if you are a public interest lobbyist who will give him a hard time about that hucksterism on his part, nah, he’s probably not interested in chatting with you even if you come up with the money.
I just wonder how the appearance of vote buying is different from vote buying. If Republicans are so upset with President Obama’s imaginary attachment to ACORN, a supposed blatant instance of self interest, how is this different? Okay, you can try to rationalize it. You can say, it’s not about health insurers getting political access with $, because Cantor would give them everything they want even if they did not give him a dime. Might be a grain of truth to that. But here’s the thing, if Cantor no longer received campaign cash from health insurers, the financial industry, and various real estate entities, he would have a lot less money and would be a lot more vulnerable to competition in his political campaigns. His district is really conservative, I should know, I live not far away. But isn’t this a team effort, keeping him in office? He scratches the backs of the money guys, and they scratch his.
NOTE: I need to thank Style Weekly magazine, a local rag which tells all the truths that the “real” local newspaper, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, does not.