The Players


SEN. KENT CONRAD, D-N.D.

CHAIRMAN, SENATE BUDGET COMMITTEE

Date of Birth: March 12, 1948.

Education: B.A., Stanford University; M.B.A., George Washington University.

Career Path: Conrad was orphaned as a young child and attended high school in Libya. He worked as North Dakota’s Tax Commissioner before his election to the Senate in 1986. He became chairman of the Senate Budget Committee in 2001 and again in 2007.

Role in Health Care Reform, 1993-1994: Conrad, as a member of the Senate Finance Committee, joined a group of centrist Democrats and Republicans who worked to draft alternative legislation to the Clinton plan.

Why He's a Player Now: Conrad, a deficit hawk, is determined to ensure that any health care legislation is paid for.

Quote: "We’re spending about 18 percent of our gross domestic product on health care now, which is about double anybody else, so the thought that we have to put a lot of additional money in creates a certain skepticism.

I think we know that, in the short term, investments will be required. But we’ve got to also be convinced that over time we really do reduce costs as a share of our economy. On the trend line we’re on we’re headed for 37 percent of GDP and that won’t work.

It would be an absolute disaster for American families, American businesses and the government itself if we didn’t do something that changed the trajectory we’re on.

It’s got to be paid for, and it’s got to be paid for real. But in addition to that, I’ve got to be convinced that it really is going to affect the cost curve, at least the trajectory that we’re on."

(Interview with KHN's Mary Agnes Carey, June 9, 2009)

Read about the other 'Players'.