Friday, January 13, 2017

77% Of Americans Consider Drug Prices Unreasonably High-- But Cory Booker And Most Republicans Don't Care


I never had asthma or needed an inhaler. But then I got treated for cancer. Eventually, one of the side effects was pneumonia and, over a year later, I still have a wretched barking cough. I have to use an asthma inhaler. With the only bad part of Medicare-- the GOP's horrific Part D-- in play it costs me about $70 a month for the medicine, up considerably-- like double-- over last year. I ran out of it while I was in Thailand this month. So I went to a pharmacy there. The price was something like $6.50. I stocked up.

Most Americans-- by far-- are pissed off about high drug prices and want action from Congress. But Members of Congress take massive bribes from the drug companies and consistently refuse to help. Last September a poll from the Kaiser Foundation found that 82% of Americans want Medicare to negotiate prices with the drug companies. Congress refuses. 78% favors limiting the amount companies can charge for high-cost drugs, such as those that fight cancer or hepatitis and Congress doesn't care. And more than two-thirds want to let Americans buy drugs imported from Canada, another divergence with Congress. 77% of Americans consider drug costs unreasonable.

Wednesday night the Senate voted on Amy Klobuchar's and Bernie Sanders' amendment "to establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to lower prescription drug prices for Americans by importing drugs from Canada." It failed 46-52 and it was very much not a party-line vote, even if most Democrats backed it and most Republicans opposed it. The power of Big Pharma is immense and it came down strong on this vote, pulling the worst of the corporate Democrats across the aisle into GOP territory.

First the dozen Republicans who decided to stick up for their constituents and who crossed the aisle in the other direction:
John Boozman (R-AR)
Susan Collins (R-ME)
Ted Cruz (R-TX)
Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Dean Heller (R-NV)
John Kennedy (R-LA)
Mike Lee (R-UT)
John McCain (R-AZ)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Rand Paul (R-KY)
John Thune (R-SD)
Those were the Republicans who understood the appeal-- voiced by Klobuchar-- that "Canadian families right across our northern border pay on average half as much for their prescription drugs, but laws currently on the book prevent American families from buying these cheaper alternatives." These are the 13 Democrats who didn't want to hear it-- and how much they have taken in legalistic bribes from the pharmaceutical industry:
Patty Murray (D-WA)- $893,626
Robert Menendez (D-NJ)- $795,895
Bob Casey (D-PA)- $628,329
Michael Bennet (D-CO)- $506,067
Tom Carper (D-DE)- $470,674
Cory Booker (D-NJ)- $385,678
Mark Warner (D-VA)- $317,200
Chris Coons (D-DE)- $292,700
Joe Donnelly (D-IN)- $272,533
Jon Tester (D-MT)- $176,550
Martin Heinrich (D-NM)- $176,039
Maria Cantwell (D-WA)- $173,625
Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)- $69,525
Cory Booker wants to be the Democrats' nominee for president in 2020. It helps explain his unprecedented testimony against a fellow senator, Jeff Sessions, this week. Sessions is a bona fide Democratic bête noire and Booker's self-serving testimony got great reviews-- although not from the far right. On his Facebook page Tom Cotton (R-AR) wrote: "I’m very disappointed that Senator Booker has chosen to start his 2020 presidential campaign by testifying against Senator Sessions. This disgraceful breach of custom is especially surprising since Senator Booker just last year said he was 'honored to have partnered with Senator Sessions' on a resolution honoring civil-rights marchers. Senator Booker says he feels compelled to speak out because Senator Session wants to keep criminals behind bars, drugs off our streets, and amnesty from becoming law. He’s welcome to oppose these common-sense policies and vote against Senator Sessions’s nomination, but what is so unique about those views to require his extraordinary testimony? Nothing. This hearing simply offers a platform for his presidential aspirations. Senator Booker is better than that, and he knows better."

New Jersey progressives know Booker as a charter school-backing Wall Street Democrat. But... since getting into the Senate, he's literally amassed a voting record to the left-- as measured by ProgressivePunch-- of Bernie Sanders! These are the 10 lifetime crucial vote scores by 11 senators who have all been rated "A."
Ed Markey (D-MA)- 97.6
Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)- 97.01
Mazie Hirono (D-HI)- 96.43
Sherrod Brown (D-OH)- 96.03
Jack Reed (D-RI)- 95.97
Al Franken (D-MN)- 95.54
Cory Booker (D-NJ)- 95.28
Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)- 95.21
Dick Durbin (D-IL)- 95.15
Bernie Sanders (I-VT)- 95.01
Jeff Merkley (D-OR)- 94.50
To be honest, ProgressivePunch isn't finely-tuned enough for the tiny differentials between Ed Markey and Jeff Merkley to be meaningful. But you can say with confidence that these are the senators with the overall most progressive voting records. The worst of the Democratic records belongs to Heidi Heitkamp (56.55), an "F" and most of the senators who voted against the amendment Wednesday have "F" ratings, Booker being the glaring exception.

When Booker ran in 2014, he amassed a war chest of $17,718,139. His Republican opponent, Jeff Bell, only managed to raise $569,770. The Finance Sector was Booker's biggest source of funds-- by far-- but pharmaceuticals were in the top 10 and he's certainly counting on them for his 2020 race for the nomination, even being willing to step all over his own carefully-crafted image as a progressive to please them. The video below shows Bernie Sanders questioning Robert Califf, a Big Pharma lobbyist who was Obama's nominee for FDA Commissioner. This isn't a line of questioning you could ever expect from Heidi Heitkamp-- or Cory Booker.

Bernie yesterday: "The Democratic Party has got to make it very clear that they are prepared to stand up to powerful special interests like the pharmaceutical industry and like Wall Street, and they’re not going to win elections and they’re not going to be doing the right thing for the American people unless they have the guts to do that. That 13 Democrats did not is disappointing. I absolutely hope that in the coming weeks and months you’re going to see many of them develop the courage to stand up to Pharma."

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At 6:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yet another in a very long and sordid (going on 4-decades now) history of proof that the Democraps are corrupt and care nothing for anyone that does not grease their palms with 5-figures or more. Booker is not even the most egregious example. IMO, it has to be patty murray, who ran as a "soccer mom" who wanted to help people like her. She's helped HERSELF to 10s of millions in corporate bribes and repays that with total fidelity to their interests.

The entirety of the party needs to be euthanized. How many more decades of this will it take for voters even as colossally stupid as us/US to get it?

At 8:47 AM, Blogger U.S. Citizen said...

As I've said before, the corporatization of America and The Second Gilded Age are the results of bipartisan efforts. This is another example of our electeds putting corporate interests over the public good. We need democracy not corporatocracy.

At 9:20 AM, Blogger Gadfly said...

My post, complete with pic of bottle of made-in-Canada Flonase:

At 12:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder how much you could get if you actually could sell your soul. Like if there were an online auction or something. Would they all be worth the same amount, or would there be different prices, depending on how far you had to tumble? I wonder who would know about this.

At 5:11 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

You should check out ordering inhalers from Canada. It is very easy. You just need to send the prescription there and can do it all on line. My son has asthma and when he lost insurance at one point I was able to get products such as Advair for a quarter of the cost.

At 6:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With the sorry performance of Barack Obama for eight years, what makes Cory Booker think that enough non-black Americans are willing to risk igniting the ire of Trump's white supremacists by supporting him? Obama had a chance to be a great president only to squander it. Booker is already showing his corporatist colors no matter what his progressive rating. Money talks, and Cory Booker will Cake walk.


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