Tikkun Magazine



Dems help defeat lower costs for prescription medications

I found the following on the internet, do not know who authored it, but do believe that it is accurate in reporting who voted against lowering costs for prescription medications by allowing them to be brought in from Canada which offers the very same drugs we get, but at  a substantially lower cost. That’s one advantage Canadians get by  having their government rather than the market shape their health care system. It could have been ours had President Obama, in his first two years with a Democratic Congress, fought for “Medicare for All,” simply taking the existing system that works well for the elderly, and extending it to everyone else, plus insisting on getting lower costs for medications by allowing us to import the lower priced medications from Canada. But this is only one of a dozen areas in which he capitulated to the capitalist elites without even engaging in a public struggle for a single day. PAY ATTENTION: this is not a matter only of different philosophical beliefs about free markets–because many people in the U.S. are too poor to afford the medications that they need while big Pharma gets away with murder (literally) in putting profits before people.

However, I do not agree with the reasoning of the article below when it seems to be claiming that it was the donations from big Pharma, ridiculously small, that shaped the decisions of the senators, and then goes on to point out that we could raise that much money and presumably could have influenced senators to vote differently. This is a crude analysis of a much more subtle way that the capitalist system operates to get support from elected officials. It is not the bribes of corporate donations alone. It is also that these corporations and their subsidiaries in a variety of states employ lots of people whose livelihoods depend on the success of these corporations. When the corporation feels that it is facing a hostile environment (meaning, the people have organized to get a living wage, safety and health protections, environmental safety protections, or, as in this case, affordable products necessary for their health, the corporations explicitly or implicitly suggest that they will move their company out of the location, state or even country in order to find a place from which they can operate with less threats to their huge profits.

Faced with this kind of threat, explicit or implicit, even otherwise decent elected officials back down. Hence the proposals put forward by “Move to Amend” and many other “money out of politics” resolutions or proposed amendments to the US Constitution really would not stop this corporate power. Which is precisely why we at Tikkun and the NSP had to not only include public financing of elections in our ESRA–Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment) while banning all other sources of money in elections, but ALSO and in the same amendment, add a provision that all corporations with incomes above $50 million a year (not mom and pop little guys) must get a new corporate charter every five years which will only be granted to those which can prove a satisfactory history of social responsibility to a jury of ordinary citizens, aided by environmental specialists hired by the jury to help, and this jury will hear testimony from people around the globe who have been impacted by this corporation, and as an additional clause, requires corporations who seek to move a substantial part of their operations from a US venue to fund an impact report on employment, economic health, and societal health of their move, and pay substantial reparations to the community form which it seeks to move or be banned from ever selling their products or services again in the U.S.  Why so complicated? Because these corporations are much smarter than the article below implies, and they exercise their power in ways that are far more subtle than through direct donations to candidates. It is a mistake for people in the liberal or progressive world to make simplistic analyses when up against corporate power which is not only well-financed, but is employing the smartest people it can find from the elite business schools and law schools and pay them starting salaries that quickly become many hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to figure out how to beat those select group of elected officials who actually care about the well being of the poorer and less powerful people. Those lawyers and business mavens do all this in the U.S. in the name of “freedom” of the capitalist marketplace, rarely even thinking of the pain that their victories mean to the least powerful and least wealthy–they rarely even see such people, even more rarely ever talk to any of them, and meanwhile their friends are all celebrating their personal victories of climbing up the ladder of material wealth and power.  I hope you’ll read the ESRA at www.tikkun.org/esra, join the Network of Spiritual Progressives which is seeking support for the ESRA and needs YOUR participation, and urge those Democrats whom you believe are less bad than their opponents to endorse the ESRA and introduce it into city councils, state legislatures, and into the Houses of the U.S. Congress!! And write to Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and others who seek to hold the banner of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and help them understand that they are wasting their time and ours by campaigning for a more limited form of “money out of politics” such as the “Move to Amend” crowd supports, because even if that one wins, it will not accomplish the goal of getting corporations or the super-rich from acting in a socially responsible way, and what will happen after such a prolonged battle is that people will feel disillusioned, believe that they’ve wasted their time, and when people say “well now we can take the next step” they are most likely to respond “after all we’ve gone through, we found that the powerful still managed to outfox us, so there’s no point in spending many more years pushing for yet another amendment to the Constitution.” Which is precisely why we have to bundle the various parts together into one Constitutional Amendment that really accomplishes what we need in democratizing our political system and constraining corporate power. True, this is not an amendment that will bring socialism. It is a non-reformist reform–it increases democratic power, but still leaves corporations in the hands of the rich and powerful. Yet in increasing our democratic power and reducing corporations’ ability to snub the needs of the people, it is an important step toward even deeper changes in our system. But we can’t even begin this process without your financial support, your participation in local chapters (help us create one in your town), sign up for Cat Zavis’ training on how to talk about these ideas and build community around them (email her at Cat@spiritualprogressives.org)  and your taking these ideas and spreading them on social media, Facebook, and every time you talk to your friends about the powerlessness people have been experiencing even before Donald Trump became the president-elect. JOIN US NOW!

Warm regards,

Rabbi Michael Lerner  rabbilerner.tikkun@gmail.com

And HERE IS THE ARTICLE I REFERENCE ABOVE with unknown author

Here’s one of many reasons we on the real left need to take back the Democratic Party.

Thirteen Democratic senators just nominated themselves for replacement by screwing the American people. They voted against Bernie Sanders’ and Amy Klobuchar’s bill that would have allowed importation of lower cost pharmaceuticals. This bill would have passed if they’d supported Sanders and Klobuchar, since a dozen Republicans voted for the bill.

 

Here’s the list of sell-out Democrats:

Michael Bennet of Colorado,

Bob Menendez and Cory Booker of New Jersey

Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray of Washington

Tom Carper and Chris Coons of Delaware,

Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, J

oe Donnelly of Indiana,

Martin Heinrich of New Mexico,

Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota,

Jon Tester of Montana

Mark Warner of Virginia

and let’s not forget Dianne Feinstein, of California, who abstained.

 

“The policy has widespread support among Americans: one Kaiser poll taken in 2015 found that 72 percent of Americans are in favor of allowing for importation. President-elect Donald Trump also campaigned on a promise to allow for importation.”

Some of them made excuses that importing such drugs was not safe for Americans. The problem is, that’s an echoing of the same argument Big Pharma makes. Bernie Sanders’ according to USA Today,

“Sanders said he agrees the medicine should be safe, but he believes that can easily be accomplished.

“If we can import vegetables and fish and poultry and beef from all corners of the Earth, please don’t tell me that we cannot bring in, from Canada and other major countries, name brand prescription drugs of some of the largest corporations in the world,” he said. “That’s a laughable statement.”"

The INTERCEPT article added this perspective:

“A second amendment Wednesday, authored by Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, would have allowed importation pending a safety certification, just like the previous laws passed on the subject. It also failed. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., used that amendment to claim on Twitter that he voted “to lower drug prices through importation from Canada,” and Booker referred to the Wyden amendment in his statement as well. This is a well-worn tactic from opponents of importation to mislead their constituents, as they know such certification will never occur.

The safety excuse is mostly a chimera, as most of the drugs that would be imported from Canada were originally manufactured in the United States; they’re just cheaper there, because the Canadian government uses a review board and price negotiation to make drugs more affordable.”

The INTERCEPT points out that many of these Democratic senate sell-outs have received big bucks donations from Pharma. Cory Booker heads the list, with $267,338 in donations over a six year period. That’s less than $45,000 a year. Think about it. If the pharmaceutical companies spent that much on every senator, annually, the budget would be $4.5 million a year. Pharma sales in the US in 2015 were just over $250 billion dollars. But remember, most of the senators were “bought” for less. That makes them lower budget, sell-out shills.

We– the 99%, we the middle class, main street, we– liberal and progressive independents– need to take back the Democratic party. We need to replace sell-outs who do not represent their constituents’ interests.

- Advertisement -

What’s crazy is the money– how cheaply a US senator can be bought– assuming there’s no illegal funding of Senator’s relatives or vacation homes and the like.

Let’s assume that there are ten industries, nah, go with 20 industries that would be willing to invest $45,000 a year. That would be $1.8 million a year per senate seat. Thirty three or thirty four senators run for office every two years. Do the numbers and you get about $1.5 million if each one gets $45 thousand, or if there were 20 different industries giving that kind of money, a paltry $30 million.

In 2015-2016, OpenSecrets reports that $770 million was given to all senate candidates. That’s why I say $30 million is a paltry sum– when it comes to buying senators. It really shows how little it takes to buy a senator, persuading him or her to betray constituents.OpenSecrets reports that individuals gave $586 million to senate campaigns, almost 20 times more than a reasonable speculation of donations by the biggest 20 industries.

These senators sell out even though their constituents carry most of the weight for their campaign funding.

It’s time we end this chronic abuse. One step is to let constituents know they are being betrayed– and that they have options to elect candidates who care about them.

- Advertisement -

We need to take back the Democratic party from the bottom up– running in local elections to be committee persons, so when state leaders are elected, they are elected by people who reflect the interests of the 99 percent.

Let’s be clear. I do not believe that major change happens through the electoral process. Working on electoral politics alone will not produce major change. But I still believe that it is worth investing some time in it. We also need to be active in supporting protests, boycotts and the like.

 

 

 
tags: Health   
http://www.tikkun.org/nextgen/dems-help-defeat-lower-costs-for-prescription-medications