People keep wondering why government does not work... and then they go and vote
for the same
clowns crooks distinguished and caring politicians...
And I keep saying that I have the utmost contempt for both political parties...
so here is an attempt at providing an example of why I feel that way.
Let us consider Medicare and how our loving and caring national elite is helping
to keep costs under control so that medical care can be provided without sending the nation
into bankruptcy. And let us consider the actions of two members of the United States Senate,
that great body of wise and honest political heroes, two great and towering men of great compassion
and honesty and concern. One is a Republican -- and one is a Democrat -- Senator Orrin Hatch (R, Utah)
and Senator Max Baucus (D, Montana). They are leaders of the Senate Finance Committee. Oh, lets add
in Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R, Kentucky).
And then there is Amgen, the great pharmaceutical company that is dedicated
to keeping us all healthy at quite reasonable cost, a pillar of corporate
good will and honesty. (Well, if you ignore their December 19th guilty
plea regarding illegal marketing of one of its drugs, a plea which will
have them paying criminal and civil penalties totalling 762 million dollars.)
Oh, just a minor problem. Something that could happen to anyone. Really,
it's no big thing.
Mix this together with the fiscal cliff negotiations and also the urgent
need to keep Medicare costs under control. One of the things Medicare was
doing to keep costs reasonable was putting price controls on some drugs
used for kidney dialysis patients. One of these drugs is Sensipar (made
Buried in the details of "The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012" -- ah well, I won't bother to quote the obscure language (you can
scroll down through that PDF, Section 632 -- the part of interest here
-- starts on page 107 and takes up another three or four pages). What it
does is to delay the implementation of changes in Medicare payments by
two years. It carefully does not mention Amgen by name, but it results
in a half a billion dollar windfall for Amgen over that two year period.
(By the way, Amgen had already had a two year delay, so this is a second
two year delay for them.)
As the New York Times reported (" Fiscal Footnote: Big Senate Gift to Drug Maker") -- Amgen
"... has a deep bench of Washington lobbyists that
includes Jeff Forbes, the former chief of staff to Mr. Baucus; Hunter Bates,
the former chief of staff for Mr. McConnell; and Tony Podesta, whose fast-growing
lobbying firm has unusually close ties to the White House."
Well, let's be more exact about Amgen and the politicians. Again, from the N.Y. Times -- "Amgen’s employees and political action committee have distributed nearly $5 million in contributions to political candidates and committees since 2007, including $67,750 to Mr. Baucus, the Finance Committee chairman, and $59,000 to Mr. Hatch, the committee's ranking Republican. They gave an additional $73,000 to Mr. McConnell, some of it at a fund-raising event for him that it helped sponsor in December while the debate over the fiscal legislation was under way. More than $141,000 has also gone from Amgen employees to President Obama’s campaigns."
Three cheers for those good folks at Amgen whose five million dollar investment
in buying politicians was returned a hundred times over.
And this is exactly why I object so strongly to the so-called Affordable
Care Act -- a/k/a Obamacare. During his 2008 campaign he promised that
his administration would be the most open and transparent in history and
that we would get to watch on C-SPAN as health care financing reform would
be debated and written in open public meetings. Instead it was written
in secret committees with vast amounts of input from healthcare industry
lobbyists (from the pharmaceutical industry, the insurance industry, hospitals,
etc.). This particular piece of special dealing was hidden in a 153 page
fiscal reform act that was supposed to prevent "The Fiscal Cliff"
crashing the economy. What other little goodies did they plant in there?
And just imagine what the lobbyists put in the more than two thousand pages
of Obamacare. (Ah, yes, good old Nancy Pelosi: "We have to pass the
bill so that you can find out what is in it.")
Ah well, but so many people believe that their party is the home of all
the wonderful caring politicians and that all the evil is in the other
party. If you are one of those people, then you are probably part of the