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

Friday, January 13, 2017 7:18
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(Before It's News)

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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 who were the Republicans who understand 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, yesterday. 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– to the left 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 is finely-tuned enough for the 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. This is 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.

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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.”

“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis

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