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Carper Denies Influence of $223,000 From Insurance Companies

Here’s some persistence you don’t see everyday from a press corps charged with monitoring Congress: MSNBC’s David Shuster grilling Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) Monday on the relationship between the $223,000 Carper’s taken from insurance companies in the last four years and his opposition to the public plan option those same companies are trying desperately to kill. (Carper instead supports a trigger mechanism, allowing the public plan option if the private insurers don’t voluntarily meet certain coverage and affordability targets.)

Shuster: Why shouldn’t people believe that your decision to say a public option as backup plan — why shouldn’t people believe that it’s been influenced by the money you’ve gotten from the insurance companies and from pharmaceuticals who don’t want a backup plan, who want it as — who don’t want a public option, at all, or a backup plan as a worst-case scenario?

Carper: Well, at the end of the day, I want us to pass a bill. I want us to pass a good bill … At the end of the day, there are more important things in the bill than whether or not we have a public plan or a public option. I think the idea of what we did in the Medicare Part D plan, where we have a fallback plan on the shelf, ready to pull out if we need it, in order to make sure market forces are working, that seems to me to be a perfectly good option.

Shuster: But, Senator, you’re under a lot of pressure, wouldn’t you acknowledge, from the insurance companies, with all the money they’ve given you?

Carper: I don’t feel a lot of pressure at all. The most effective lobbyist for me — I’ve been governor; I’ve been congressman; I’ve been state treasurer; now I’m the senator — the most effective lobbyist, for me, in everything I have ever done, are actually people from Delaware that I know that I trust who talk to me, in all kinds of parades all over my state this last Fourth of July weekend, and people that call my office, mostly from Delaware, that have a view, some for public plans, some against it.

“The best way to do it,” Carper concluded, “is to develop a bipartisan plan.”

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