Big day today in DC. The Senate will start going through a plethora or idiotic amendments from Republicans trying to hold up the reconciliation bill. I guess they hate the ever so slight increase in taxes for the rich but they are also angry about the beginning of the process to make prescription drugs affordable for the working class. Arizona corporate whore Kyrsten Sinema was able to save one of the swamp’s favorite loopholes, the carried interest loan scam for Wall Street criminals. Sinema did agree, instead, to a nearly superfluous 1 percent excise tax on stock buybacks.
The excise tax is so minuscule that Wall Street doesn’t care enough to send out their lobbyists to try to stop it. Besides, the DC lobbyist brigade is busy working for the pharmaceutical barrons right now. The biggest, scummiest drug lobbyist of all, PhRMA CEO Steve Ubl is threatening retribution for the very modest reforms Schumer and Manchin included in the package. Url and the drug companies sent an ominous letter to every member of Congress threatening consequences.
In the current cycle, 15 senators have each taken over $100,000 in bribes from the pharmaceutical industry:
Tim Scott (R-SC)- $294,896
Chuck Schumer (D-NY)- $289,285
Raphael Warnock (D-GA)- $240,364
Patty Murray (D-WA)- $225,588
Todd Young (R-IN)- $212,785
Kyrsten Sinema (of course-AZ)- $201,060
Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)- $187,400
Ron Wyden (D-OR)- $184,370
Mark Kelly (D-AZ)- $169,312
Robert Menendez (D-NJ)- $156,400
John Thune (R-SD)- $154,000
Mike Crapo (R-ID)- $141,550
Alex Padilla (D-CA)- $139,684
Maggie Hassan (D-NH)- $121,430
Marco Rubio (R-FL)- $100,767
And among those still in office, the 3 who the pharmaceutical industry has been most generous to are Joe Biden- $8,841,361, Mitt Romney (R-UT)- $3,181,928 and Mitch McConnell (R-KY)- $1,913,936. These bribes are the reason we still overpay so grotesquely for prescription medicines and why the pharmaceutical industry hasn't been nationalized. Late yesterday, Washington congressional candidate Jason Call put the mess into context: “Our political system is so openly corrupt and the strongarming of our representatives so blatant it should be cause for riots. These corporate executives treat the American people with vulgar contempt as their actions cause daily bankruptcy and death. The pharmaceutical industry is not the only industry that owns all three branches. Fossil fuels. The military industrial complex. The real estate and housing industry. The list goes on, and despite the White House crowing about economic recovery and a pathetic amount of climate action funding (tied to more drilling thanks to Joe Manchin), little is improving for everyday workers. The pharmaceutical industry should be nationalized, among others. We sink lower every day.”
Tuesday is Election Day in Wisconsin, where Dr. Mark Neumann is the progressive candidate in the open 3rd district. After reading the letter from Big PhRMA, he wrote that "it’s not so often that we see PhRMA’s arguments (threats) so blatantly out of camouflage and out in the open. They must really feel threatened, I guess. Or else they feel so privileged that they have no shame for their corruption. Their attitude of impunity is truly despicable. It’s another instance of 'Who are the puppets and who believe themselves to be the puppeteers?' It takes elected representatives in Congress who will not allow themselves to be bullied away from caring for the people they represent. That’s how we will dispatch the puppeteers."
Megan Wilson wrote that “PhRMA, not accustomed to losing legislative fights, has waged a multimillion-dollar advocacy campaign against the drug pricing measures, and is crafting contingency plans if they fail. In addition to hinting at running campaign ads against Democrats in tough races this fall, the industry is assessing its legal options and pondering future regulatory or legislative fixes. ‘Regardless of the outcome in the coming weeks, this fight isn’t over,’ Ubl said in an interview. ‘Few associations have all the tools of modern political advocacy at their disposal in the way that PhRMA does.’ Thursday’s letter largely reiterates arguments the industry has made throughout the process, with the executives from companies including Pfizer and Merck saying that passing the legislation would lead to fewer treatments and cures— particularly for tough illnesses like cancer and Alzheimer’s disease that can be difficult and costly to develop. Ubl said that one of PhRMA’s member companies has 15 drugs in the pipeline that would be nixed if the bill becomes law. ‘This is a very consequential vote. Those members who vote for this bill will not get a free pass. We’ll do whatever we can to hold them accountable,’ he said… The stakes are high for the drug industry: allowing Medicare to negotiate the cost of high-price drugs is expected to save the federal government more than $100 billion.”
Looks like PhRMA will be battling AARP, which is mobilizing its nearly 38 million members to lobby their representatives in favor of the drug pricing plan. AARP is already running ads to support the legislation. Ads like this: