Mostly behind closed doors, five corrupt conservative Democrats are trying to kill the provisions that would lower the cost of prescription drugs in Biden's human infrastructure bill. One is a notorious enemy of working families-- Oregon Blue Dog Kurt Schrader, who has consistently worked with the Republicans to defeat minimum wage increases. He and San Diego-area New Dem Scott Peters are leading the effort. The other three-- Lou Correa (Blue Dog-CA), Kathleen Rice (New Dem-NY) and Stephanie Murphy (Blue Dog-FL)-- have tried to work their poisonous strategies in secret and rarely allow their own conservatism to be exposed to their constituents.
You can understand why, at least in this case, if you see how immensely popular-- across party lines-- the drug proposal is in their districts:
OR-05 (Schrader)- 91%
CA-46 (Correa)- 91%
NY-04 (Rice)- 90%
CA-52 (Peters)- 90%
FL07- (Murphy)- 90%
The lobbyist-written bill presented by Schrader and Peters would scale back what Biden-- and, basically, all normal Democrats-- are trying to accomplish. Maybe that has to do with the bribes these 5 crooked members of Congress have taken over the years. Or maybe that's just a coincidence and they simply believe their constituents should be paying unreasonably high drug prices.
• Scott Peters (since 2012)
• Kurt Schrader (since 2008)
• Stephanie Murphy (since 2016)
• Kathleen Rice (since 2014)
• Lou Correa (since 2016)
Using bullshit lobbyist/GOP talking points about "preserving innovation," something everyone knows is a false scare tactic, the 5 crooked conservatives are threatening to destroy Biden's entire domestic agenda to please their special interest paymasters. What their alternative bill really does is tie the government's hands in its ability to negotiate fair drug prices with Big PhRMA while encouraging corrupt monopolistic policies.
This morning Data for Progress released a polling memo about how out of touch with Americans Schrader, Peters, Rice, Murphy and Correa are. 86% of Americans back reforms that give Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices and 81% believe prescription drug costs are "unreasonable." Meanwhile only 12% believe pharma’s argument that letting Medicare negotiate lower prices will harm innovation-- one of the underlying lies in the alternative bill offered by the 5 conservative Democrats-- while 81% believe the reforms will lower prices without harming innovation and development.
"These numbers make it abundantly clear that voters want prescription drug price reforms,” said Sean McElwee, Executive Director at Data for Progress. “With strong support for allowing Medicare to negotiate to lower drug prices and the belief among voters that prescription drug prices are unreasonable, it's clear that Congress must act to make these changes."
“This issue has been litigated in the court of public opinion for years now, and even in the midst of a pandemic, voters are clear: They want Medicare to negotiate lower prices on behalf of Americans,” said David Mitchell, a patient with an incurable blood cancer whose drugs carry a list price of more than $900,000 per year and founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now. “Patients and consumers are hurting, too often having to choose between paying outrageous prices for their drugs or covering costs of other necessities. We support Congress and the Biden administration as they act to end this injustice in America.”
“Americans pay more for prescription drugs than anyone in the world. Big Pharma’s greed knows no bounds, and Americans from all walks of life are hurting from skyrocketing costs,” said Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse. “The new polling from Data for Progress confirms that voters are fed up with the status quo and demanding action from their elected officials. It is imperative that Congress give Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug prices for all Americans-- any lawmaker that tries to stand in the way is on the wrong side of this issue and on the wrong side of their constituents.”
The survey found that by more than a 2-to-1 margin, voters are more concerned that Congress won’t do enough to rein in the cost of prescription drugs than that Congress will go too far in restraining prices.
This new poll comes as the Senate Finance Committee is drafting legislation that would allow Medicare to negotiate, which would deliver on the president’s Build Back Better plan. The House of Representatives will begin marking up the reconciliation package, including a version of its Medicare negotiation legislation, H.R. 3, this week.
This afternoon, Punchbowl News reported that Rice and Peters will vote against cheaper drug prices in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. If they and Schrader-- who is a sure "no" vote-- go through with their threats. With a 32-26 ratio on the panel, if three Democrats cross the aisle, that means a 29-29 tie, and whatever measure they’re voting on fails. Rice, who has been the very definition of political corruption for her entire career wrote that "I do not support advancing policies that are not fiscally responsible and jeopardize the bill’s final passage. Therefore, I will not be able to support two of the titles under consideration in the Energy and Commerce Committee today. I am committed to continue working with my colleagues to support American families." The problem is not just that the Democrats will be unable to deliver on a promise to lower drug prices, it also "blows a $700 billion hole in the Democrats’ reconciliation plans, making it harder for moderates [conservative Dems] to support it. Democrats were counting on the prescription drug reform creating hundreds of billions of dollars in savings by allowing Medicare to negotiate on prescription drug costs. Not only would it save seniors money, but it would allow Democrats to spend those funds on other social programs without impacting the overall cost of the reconciliation package. So this is a double-edged blow..."
Mark Gamba is the progressive Democrat campaigning for the Oregon congressional seat held by Schrader. Gamba is a strong advocate for fair prescription drug prices and this morning he told me that "As usual for congressman Schrader, this bill is pure smoke and mirrors. It does almost nothing to significantly reduce criminally overpriced, lifesaving prescription drugs, but it gives cover to others in Congress who are sold out to the pharmaceutical industry like he is. His personal millions are tied up in big pharma, so you can be sure that he will be doing everything he can to lie to the American People about how this bill protects innovation. The only thing Schrader's bill protects is obscene corporate profits for this industry."
Mike Ortega is the progressive running for the seat Lou Correa, another corrupt Blue Dog, is holding in Orange County. Please consider contributing to his campaign and Mark Gamba's campaign at the Blue America Primary A Blue Dog page, which you can reach by clicking on the thermometer on the left. Meanwhile, this afternoon, Mike told me that "The Congressional Budget Office has already concluded that HR 3 would have no impact on innovation (something that Big Pharma does not provide alone-- let’s not forget universities and government funding). The CBO also predicted that HR 3 would result in a 57-75% decrease in prescription drug costs. This is an opportunity to protect Americans from the ridiculous and immoral price gouging from Big Pharma. So what does my opponent, Lou Correa do? He goes to bat for these companies that spend more on television commercials, stock buy-backs, and dividends than research and development. This is a perfect example of who he is: given the chance to do the right thing, Correa wants to water down progress that is needed today. Lou Correa is running for his fourth term in Congress (after having been in California politics for nearly 20 years, voting down statewide single-payer)-- and so far he’s taken $161,000 from Big Pharma Corporate PACs alone. I won’t take a dime of Corporate PAC money-- that’s why I need your help to knock Lou out of his seat and elect a people-powered campaign that will revitalize the fight for Medicare for All."