When Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster, D-N.H., sat down recently for an interview on New Hampshire Public Radio, the conversation quickly turned to President Barack Obama’s health care law.
Kuster said she’s dead set against repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but she agreed that it should be revised -- particularly in areas that affect small businesses.
Kuster said she wants to reexamine guidelines that define a "full-time" work week as being as little as 30 hours, and also supports Obama’s decision to further delay the so-called "employer mandate."
The employer mandate is a provision in the health reform law that requires businesses with 50 or more employees to offer affordable insurance coverage for workers or face penalties.
The federal government was set to begin enforcing that aspect of the law in 2014, but the Obama administration has pushed back the deadline twice, moving it to 2016.
Kuster said delaying the employer mandate will provide an opportunity for New Hampshire’s insurance exchange to get more competition that could drive down costs.
"That’s one reason that I support the president in the delay of the small business mandate for another year," she said. "Get more competition into the New Hampshire marketplace and then we’ll find that there will be insurers that will compete on convenience as compared to cost."
Kuster’s remarks on NHPR drew fire from the National Republican Congressional Committee, which said Kuster’s statement was at odds with her voting record. That’s because in July 2013, Kuster voted against a House bill that called for delaying the employer mandate.
In a blog post, NRCC spokesmanIan Priorwrote that Kuster either lied or has "absolutely no idea what she is voting for."
Kuster did vote against the bill. But does that mean that Kuster has reversed her position on the employer mandate, as NRCC claims?
The politics surrounding any vote on the House floor is complex.
In this case, by the time last year’s vote was held, the Obama administration had already announced it would postpone enforcing the employer mandate for one year. So the vote was essentially symbolic.
The White House’s preemptive move left some House Republicans peeved, since Obama made the change through his executive authority, rather than by going through Congress. In response, House Republican leaders devised a series of showdown votes aimed at driving a wedge between Democrats and the White House.
For instance, Republicans called a vote on delaying the employer mandate, even though the change had already taken place. They also introduced a second bill to delay the health care law’s mandate on individuals to secure health insurance.
Democratic leaders called these measures further attempts to dismantle Obamacare. Obama threatened to veto the bills, specifically calling H.R. 2667 -- the bill delaying the employer mandate -- "unnecessary."
Despite such calls from the Democratic leadership, House Republicans picked up some Democratic support for the measure. It passed, 264-161, with 35 Democrats voting for it. (The bill delaying the individual mandate also passed the House, though with less Democratic support.)
Kuster voted against both bills, saying they undermined implementation of the health care law. But at the time, Kuster didn’t specifically address the merits of delaying the employer mandate.
By contrast, U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter -- another New Hampshire Democrat who voted against both bills -- spelled out her opposition in greater detail.
"H.R. 2667 is unnecessary and redundant because President Obama already delayed the employer responsibility provision for one year; a provision that affects only 4 percent of all businesses in America," Shea-Porter said.
We asked Kuster’s office for the congresswoman’s views on the employer mandate. Spokeswoman Rosie Hilmer said Kuster supported the president’s decision to delay the mandate in 2013, but voted against the Republican bill because it was a "symbolic bill that would not have helped a single business."
"Congresswoman Kuster takes her votes very seriously and addresses bills on their value, so she voted against this unnecessary bill because it was a redundant, meaningless stunt by House Republicans, not a serious attempt to address and fix problems with the law," Hilmer wrote.
Kuster recently said she supports the president’s move to delay the small business mandate for another year, saying the delay would provide more time for the New Hampshire marketplace to develop competition among health plans. Critics say that’s a contrast with her vote against a House bill to delay the employer mandate.
We agree that there is a contrast between those two positions, but there’s also some nuance.
Kuster didn’t say she opposed the bill because she thought that delaying the employer mandate was a bad idea -- a position that would have been a clear contrast with her more recent position. Rather, she voted against it because the bill was symbolic and tantamount to a stunt, since the White House had already delayed that provision of the law.
We rate Kuster’s position on the employer mandate a Half Flip.
Contributors 2017 - 2018
grand total of contributions Ann Mclane Kuster has reported in the current election cycle.
Number of Contributions (of $200 or more): 1,080
Top 20 contributors to Campaign CommitteeDownload .csv file
|3||State of New Hampshire||$15,940||$15,940||$0|
|5||Lone Pine Capital||$10,800||$10,800||$0|
|5||Technology Crossover Ventures||$10,800||$10,800||$0|
|9||AmeriPAC: The Fund for a Greater America||$10,000||$0||$10,000|
|9||Carpenters & Joiners Union||$10,000||$0||$10,000|
|9||International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers||$10,000||$0||$10,000|
|9||Jobs, Opportunities & Education PAC||$10,000||$0||$10,000|
|9||New Democrat Coalition||$10,000||$0||$10,000|
|9||PAC to the Future||$10,000||$0||$10,000|
|9||United Food & Commercial Workers Union||$10,000||$0||$10,000|
|17||Sheet Metal Workers Union||$9,000||$0||$9,000|
|19||Historian & Editor||$8,100||$8,100||$0|
*registrants, or active lobbying firm
These tables list the top donors to candidates in the 2017 - 2018 election cycle. The organizations themselves did not donate, rather the money came from the organizations' PACs, their individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals' immediate families. Organization totals include subsidiaries and affiliates.
Why (and How) We Use Donors' Employer/Occupation Information
The organizations listed as "Top Contributors" reached this list for one of two reasons: either they gave through a political action committee sponsored by the organization, or individuals connected with the organization contributed directly to the candidate.
Under federal law, all contributions over $200 must be itemized and the donor's occupation and employer must be requested and disclosed, if provided. The Center uses that employer/occupation information to identify the donor's economic interest. We do this in two ways:
- First, we apply a code to the contribution, identifying the industry. Totals for industries (and larger economic sectors) can be seen in each candidate and race profile, and in the Industry Profile section of the OpenSecrets website.
- Second, we standardize the name of the donor's employer. If enough contributions came in from people connected with that same employer, the organization's name winds up on the Top Contributor list.
Of course, it is impossible to know either the economic interest that made each individual contribution possible or the motivation for each individual giver. However, the patterns of contributions provide critical information for voters, researchers and others. That is why Congress mandated that candidates and political parties request employer information from contributors and publicly report it when the contributor provides it.
In some cases, a cluster of contributions from the same organization may indicate a concerted effort by that organization to "bundle" contributions to the candidate. In other cases—both with private companies and with government agencies, non-profits and educational institutions—the reason for the contributions may be completely unrelated to the organization.
Showing these clusters of contributions from people associated with particular organizations provides a valuable—and unique—way of understanding where a candidate is getting his or her financial support. Knowing those groups is also useful after the election, as issues come before Congress and the administration that may affect those organizations and their industries.
The figures profiled here include money from two sources: These contributors were either the sponsors of a PAC that gave to the politician, or they were listed as an individual donor's employer. Donors who give more than $200 to any federal candidate, PAC or party committee must list their occupation and employer. Based on that information, the donor is given an economic code. These totals are conservative, as not all of the individual contributions have yet been classified by the Center.
In cases where two or more people from the same family contributed, the income-earner's occupation/employer is assigned to all non-wage earning family members. If, for instance, Henry Jones lists his employer as First National Bank, his wife Matilda lists "Homemaker" and 12-year old Tammy shows up as "Student," the Center would identify all their contributions as being related to the "First National Bank" since that's the source of the family's income.
Although individual contributions are generally categorized based on the donor's occupation/employer, in some cases individuals may be classified instead as ideological donors. A contribution to a candidate may be given an ideological code, rather than an economic code, if the contributor gives to an ideological political action committee AND the candidate has received money from PACs representing that same ideological interest.
NOTE: All the numbers on this page are for the 2017 - 2018 election cycle and based on Federal Election Commission data released electronically on February 20, 2018. ("Help! The numbers don't add up...")
WHY DON'T THE NUMBERS ADD UP?
Sometimes it's hard to make apple-to-apple comparisons across some of the pages in a candidate's profile. Here's why:
Summary numbers - specifically "Total Raised and Spent" and "PAC/Individual Split" - are based on summary reports filed by the candidates with the Federal Election Commission. All other numbers in these profiles ("Quality of Disclosure," "Geography" and "Special Interests") are derived from detailed FEC reports that itemize all contributions of $200 or more.
There is also a time lag in posting the information. While summary numbers are reported almost immediately by the FEC -- and listed quickly on OpenSecrets -- processing and analyzing the detailed records takes much longer. For that reason, summary numbers are usually higher (and more current) than the numbers based on detailed records.
HOW CURRENT ARE THESE FIGURES?
The figures in these profiles are taken from databases uploaded by the FEC to the internet on the first day of every month. Those databases are only as current as the FEC has been able to compile by that date (see the note above about lag times for data entry).
The Center updates figures for "Total Raised and Spent" and for "PAC/Individual Split" a few days after the first of the month. The remaining figures - based on detailed contribution data - is updated by the Center after the 20th of every month. This gives us time to analyze the contributions and categorize them by industry and interest group.
Feel free to distribute or cite this material, but please credit the Center for Responsive Politics. For permission to reprint for commercial uses, such as textbooks, contact the Center: info[at]crp.org