Senator Evan Bayh, Indiana’s junior senator who fancies himself a “fiscal conservative” and moderate Democrat, has once again attempted to pull the wool over the eyes of (mostly conservative) voters in the Hoosier state. As the health care debate raged on earlier this fall, Bayh positioned himself as a thoughtful moderate opposed to ramming through just any ol’ health-care bill:
Bayh told CBS News’ Bob Schieffer on Washington Unplugged that he would not vote to proceed with the debate “if there are things in the bill I think are just beyond the pale.”
“Some people argue that we should vote to go forward on a bill even if we don’t like it,” he said. “As we get further along in this, I view procedure and substance as being largely one and the same. I’d like to move forward, but some of that’s going to depend on is it fiscally responsible.”
That last quote is especially damning considering The Indianapolis Star reported today that Bayh “helped rally Dems’ troops” to pass Obamacare for purely political reasons:
Sen. Evan Bayh did not publicly reveal how he would vote on the Senate’s health-care bill before a key test vote Monday. After the vote, the Indiana Democrat described it as a “close call.”
“Legitimate arguments have been made by both sides,” Bayh said in a statement.
That’s a different tone than Bayh took with fellow Democrats behind closed doors, according to The New York Times and Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper.
The publications said Democrats credited remarks Bayh made as helping the party draw together.
Citing unidentified officials who attended a meeting of Democratic senators and the president Dec. 15, The New York Times said Bayh called health care the kind of public policy he had come to Washington to work on. He said he did not want to see the satisfied looks on GOP faces if it failed.
Roll Call said Bayh gave a “rousing speech, arguing that Democrats could not afford to let the reform effort collapse in the face of Republican attacks.”
“Bayh’s speech seemed to crystallize the situation for Democrats and helped them refocus their energy away from intraparty disputes and onto the GOP and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell,” Roll Call wrote.
It seems the junior senator was not the innocent “Bayh-stander” he claimed to be in this debate. To the contrary, while Senator Bayh was telling Hoosiers the same old refrains about his “Hoosier Values” and “fiscal conservatism,” he has been actively and passionately cheering on the government takeover of health-care behind closed doors with his Democrat buddies in DC.
If that’s not infuriating enough, consider the fact that Bayh’s wife Susan has made MILLIONS through positions on corporate boards of several health-care related companies. According to TheStreet.com, since 2003, Susan has made $2 million solely from WellPoint, one of Indiana’s — and the country’s — largest health insurance companies:
She collected $656,062 in cash and stock for all her board work last year, but half ($327,000) came from her WellPoint directorship. Because she first started taking work as a corporate director in 1994 (when she was 34 — when Sen. Bayh was still Gov. Bayh), she has served on 14 boards.
. . .
But make no mistake, these corporate directorships for Bayh are a cash ATM for her family. Remarkably, although Bayh has always been paid for her work on the WellPoint board in a combination of cash and stock, she has immediately sold her stock as soon as she can. She has never held stock in WellPoint for longer than a year.
If you examine the latest proxy filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, it shows that Bayh owns exactly zero shares in the company (more than a decade after first being appointed to the board). She’s the only director who doesn’t hold any shares.
What does this say? To me, it clearly shows that she has no long-term interest in seeing WellPoint’s stock price increase. She’s there to get her cash and stock and cash out as soon as she possibly can. She’s doing this for the money, not for the benefits of seeing shareholder value increase.
Friends, it is time for Evan Bayh and his money-grubbing wife to go. He is up for re-election in 2010, and now is the time to mobilize against him. The Republican establishment might believe that a fight against Bayh isn’t worth the time, effort, or money, but our friends at the American Spectator have noted the growing angst of Hoosiers towards Bayh:
Growing choruses of more-conservative Hoosiers voters are also none too pleased with him. Particularly irksome is Bayh’s support for the healthcare reform plan, which has proven to be more of an arrangement among the Obama administration, health insurance firms, and the pharmaceutical industry to expand federal power and increase subsidies to the industry at taxpayer expense. The senator’s heavy dependence on fundraising (and family income) from pharmaceutical giants such as Eli Lilly — which calls Indianapolis its hometown — has cast his support in a harsher light. Other Hoosiers are waking up to Bayh’s less-than-conservative voting record — which includes a 100 percent rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America — and his tendency for casting fingers to the air. As noted by the American Prospect‘s Ezra Klein, Bayh can go from a “flash of liberalism” to conservatism in just one year.
The only question now is which Republican candidate will emerge from the primary to face beat Bayh. The conventional wisdom in Indiana is that it will either be former GOP Rep. John Hostettler or state Sen. Marlin Stutzman. Both are, by all accounts, genuine conservatives, and either one would be a major improvement over Bayh. Hostettler has the edge on experience and name-recognition, but Stutzman — a farmer and relatively fresh face on the Indiana political scene — has a growing grass roots movement behind him and has not been shy about calling out Evan Bayh’s closet liberalism.
I will keep you updated on the race, but one thing is clear at this point: Evan Bayh’s “fiscal conservative” facade and closet-liberalism must come to an end in 2010.