We’re hearing an awful lot about the so-called Gang of Six, those six senators on the Senate Finance Committee who are negotiating among themselves what is likely to be the template for health care reform for the rest of us.
There’s the chairman, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., of course. Everywhere you turn it’s Baucus this, Baucus that. Then there’s Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the ranking Republican member of the committee.
The other committee members are Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Me.; Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D.; Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.; and last but not least, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M.
I had to do some research to find out who the sixth senator was in this gang since one never hears Bingaman’s name mentioned. Then I remembered these are secret negotiations.
In any case, in looking over this list of negotiators who hold the fate of one-sixth of the economy in their hands, the oddity of politics in America in 2009 became crystal-clear to me.
I knew that the states these senators represent are small population-wise, but I did not realize how small they are.
The largest of the six, Iowa, ranks #30 of the 50 states, according to the 2008 estimate of state populations, with 3,002,555 residents.
Here are the rankings of the other 5 states whose senators comprise the Gang of Six:
#36-New Mexico with 1,984,356
#40-Maine with 1,316,456
#44-Montana with 967,440