This is Biden's America

Reply Tue 10 May, 2022 08:23 pm
Before I watch the video I have to say I quit listening to Cenk and Anna when they failed to support Bernie. Sell outs.
Reply Tue 10 May, 2022 08:32 pm

I've read from other sources that the squad let Tina down, that they basically went with the other candidate. I can't stand to watch Cenk, but I have to agree there is some kind of threat hanging over the squad and even Bernie. They all fell in line far too easily. I didn't watch the whole video.
Lash wrote:

Dude, if you watch YouTube, you gotta check The Vanguard—2 kids from KC who regularly rip holes in the establishment.

They showed a recent clip of Cenk and Ana crapping all over the squad. Agreeing with Dore.

Looooong time coming.

What’s your take on that?

Reply Tue 10 May, 2022 09:11 pm
Yeah, TYT went total establishment. That’s why it’s so cool that they finally admitted that whatever we’re calling ‘the squad’ are *also* sell outs.

Seems like they didn’t realize it until the moment the ‘Justice Democrats’ (the squad) chose Ms Shontell Establishment over Nina.

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Reply Wed 11 May, 2022 03:43 pm
edgarblythe wrote:

but I have to agree there is some kind of threat hanging over the squad and even Bernie. They all fell in line far too

I agree 100%. I wish I knew what the establishment threat is to turn them all.
Reply Wed 11 May, 2022 03:51 pm
I've concluded that the French have a much better take on how to handle the government.
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Reply Wed 11 May, 2022 06:47 pm
Robert Reich

You know what’s more radical than abolishing the filibuster and expanding the court?
Watching 50 years of abortion rights get eviscerated — and doing absolutely nothing to stop it.
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Reply Wed 11 May, 2022 09:12 pm
Manchin actually gets rewarded for being the party naysayer. He gets to keep all his committee assignments, for instance.
Reply Thu 12 May, 2022 05:59 am
edgarblythe wrote:

Manchin actually gets rewarded for being the party naysayer. He gets to keep all his committee assignments, for instance.

After this became apparent to me a couple of years ago, I know that Manchin is getting rewarded by the Dems for being their scapegoat. Manchin does their dirty work so that they can still feign a desire to do the right thing.

His daughter was given a disgustingly lucrative position in Pharma if I’m not mistaken.

Edit: https://theintercept.com/2021/09/07/joe-manchin-epipen-price-heather-bresch/

HEATHER BRESCH, the former president and CEO of the drugmaker Mylan, worked directly with the CEO of Pfizer to keep prices of the company’s EpiPen product artificially high, according to new documents released as part of an ongoing lawsuit.

The documents also show Bresch approving a scheme to force customers, captured by the company’s monopoly, to purchase two EpiPens at once, regardless of medical need. The EpiPen is an auto-injectable device that injects epinephrine into the body and can be the difference between life or death for a person suffering a severe allergic reaction.
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Reply Thu 12 May, 2022 06:07 am
Follow the dirty money.

More on Heather Bresch:



Heather Bresch Net Worth

The estimated Net Worth of Heather M Bresch is at least $31.7 Million dollars as of 2 March 2020. Ms. Bresch owns over 143,709 units of Mylan NV stock worth over $4,802,534 and over the last 7 years she sold MYL stock worth over $8,385,000. In addition, she makes $18,509,300 as Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director at Mylan NV.

Ms. Bresch MYL stock SEC Form 4 insiders trading

Heather has made over 12 trades of the Mylan NV stock since 2015, according to the Form 4 filled with the SEC. Most recently she exercised 143,709 units of MYL stock worth $2,277,788 on 2 March 2020.

The largest trade she's ever made was exercising 378,071 units of Mylan NV stock on 10 June 2015 worth over $5,992,425. On average, Heather trades about 54,573 units every 102 days since 2015. As of 2 March 2020 she still owns at least 302,999 units of Mylan NV stock.

You can see the complete history of Ms. Bresch stock trades at the bottom of the page.
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Reply Thu 12 May, 2022 06:42 am
Manchin, conflict of interest, and our disgusting corrupt government.



In the case of West Virginia senator Joe Manchin, however, his daughter’s former job — she was president, top lobbyist, and CEO of Mylan, a drug company — represents such a massive conflict of interest, with implications for policy that are shocking and disqualifying even by normal Washington, DC, standards. She’s not only the senator’s daughter, she’s a major donor.

And it’s worse than that. Much worse.

Last month, the Intercept’s Ryan Grim reported that Bresch worked with the CEO of Pfizer to keep the prices of the EpiPen artificially high. The EpiPen, as many readers with severe allergies know, is a lifesaving device patients carry with them in case of a serious allergic reaction that injects epinephrine into the body. As Grim reported, the emails about the 2011 deal between the CEOs were released as part of a lawsuit. Pfizer agreed to divest from its EpiPen competitor, giving Mylan a monopoly, allowing the company to continue raising prices without any competitive curb. (The deal — and the resulting price increase — was profitable to both companies, as Pfizer acquired King Pharmaceuticals, the company that made the epinephrine, while Mylan continued to make and distribute the device itself.)

In 2007, when Mylan first got the rights to the EpiPen, a two pack cost less than $100; after Bresch cut the aforementioned deal with Pfizer, the price increased to more than $600, with catastrophic results, especially for those who had to pay full price due to lack of adequate insurance coverage. As CNBC reported in 2016, the EpiPen only costs a couple dollars to make — including the drug. Oh, and as a side note, after the price increase, Manchin’s wife, Gayle Conelly Manchin, lobbied for federal legislation requiring schools to have EpiPens onsite.

The Manchins are truly the worst family in America.

Pfizer has settled a lawsuit on price-fixing in the case, and a similar legal action against Mylan is ongoing. Bresch stepped down from Mylan last year amid criticism over the unconscionable price increases. (Also, in 2017, Mylan was fined $465 million for ripping off Medicaid. You go, girl!) Bresch’s exit package was an eye-popping $37.6 million.

You could buy a lot of EpiPens with that, even at gouged prices. Perhaps that’s why Bresch’s remorse over this episode — expressed when she was questioned about it by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform — has seemed pro forma at best: with such a “retirement” nest egg, why should she care if children die? As one 2016 Bloomberg Business headline put it: “Mylan CEO Regrets Patient Blowback, But Not Expanded EpiPen Use.”

The main reason Joe Manchin is famous right now is that he is holding up a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package that will allow American society to address a wide array of urgent social and environmental needs. It is crucial to the everyday survival of millions of working-class Americans, and the fate of life on Earth, as well as the short-term electoral future of the Democrats. One of the most popular provisions in that bill would make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors by allowing Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies, a policy change that would vastly complicate the sort of shenanigans that have made Manchin’s daughter such a rich woman.

We all have disreputable relatives, but Manchin is implicated in his daughter’s career — she got her first job at Mylan after her dad put in a good word for her. What’s more, Bresch is far more involved than most daughters in her father’s career. As OpenSecrets reported last month after Grim’s story broke, Bresch’s company — PAC and employees — was one of Joe Manchin’s largest campaign contributors before it was purchased by Viatris in 2020. The largest donor to the Mylan PAC during the 2010 and 2012 cycles was Heather Bresch. In 2016 and 2018, Bresch and her husband, Jeff, a former partner at the law firm Jones Day, donated the maximum amount as individuals to Manchin’s campaign.

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Reply Sat 14 May, 2022 11:57 am
Mass Protest Is Rising — Can It Confront Global Capitalism?

he world has entered an epoch of escalating class struggle and mass popular protest as the global economy teeters on the verge of recession and international tensions reach the boiling point in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Revolt took off around the globe in the aftermath of the 2008 world financial collapse that put an end to two decades of the “globalization boom.” Popular insurgencies have since escalated on the heels of the pandemic and, although particular movements may rise and fall, there is no letup in sight. The first four months of 2022 saw mass labor strikes and unionization drives breaking out in industries and countries around the world.

Meanwhile, civil strife and political conflict are spreading. As inequality increases exponentially and mass hardship and deprivation spread, global capitalism appears to be emerging from the contagion in a dangerous new phase, placing the world in a perilous situation that borders on global civil war.

In the two years leading up to the COVID-19 outbreak, more than 100 major anti-government protests swept the world, in rich and poor countries alike, toppling some 30 governments or leaders and sparking an escalation of state violence against protesters. From Chile to Lebanon, Iraq to India, France to the United States, Haiti to Nigeria, and South Africa to Colombia, mass popular struggles appeared in some instances to be acquiring an anti-capitalist character (although others were driven by right-wing sentiments). Anti-capitalist struggles brought together students, workers and often migrant workers, farmers, Indigenous communities, anti-racists, prisoners and activists against mass incarceration, democracy and anti-corruption activists, those struggling for autonomy or independence, anti-austerity campaigners, environmental advocates, and so on.

However, the “global spring” of 2017-2019 was but a peak moment in the popular insurgencies that spread in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse — a veritable tsunami of proletarian rebellion not seen in decades. The mass uprisings that followed the Great Recession, among them Occupy Wall Street (which started in the U.S. and sparked similar movements in dozens of countries), the Arab Spring, and the Greek workers movement, captured the worldwide popular imagination. Some of these struggles suffered setbacks and defeat. Still, the global revolt ebbed and flowed throughout the 2010s but did not die down, and a fresh wave broke out in 2017.

The pandemic lockdown pushed protesters off the streets in early 2020. But the lull was momentary: Within weeks of the lockdown, protesters were out in force again despite the quarantine and the dangers of public congregation. Alongside these mobilizations, protests against the police murder of George Floyd in May 2020 sparked an anti-racist uprising that brought upwards to 25 million mostly young people into the streets of hundreds of cities across the country, the single largest mass protest in U.S. history. Many Black Lives Matter protesters called for the defunding of police departments — and for investment in a broad range of social services and supports. This call for expanding a social safety net posed a direct challenge to neoliberal capitalism, which funnels state dollars out of working class communities and social welfare programs and into policing, “defense,” and corporate welfare. Moreover, the BLM protests spurred solidarity actions throughout the world as 2020 wore on.

The Pew Research Center has been conducting ongoing polls in the U.S. on views toward capitalism and socialism (although, of course, what people understand to be capitalism and socialism is not clear). According to its 2019 poll, a full 42 percent of U.S. respondents had a favorable view of socialism, although the Pew poll did not break down responses by age groups. But a 2018 Gallup poll found that 51 percent of those aged 18-29 had a favorable view of socialism. Seen in historical context, another Gallup poll found that support for socialism stood at 25 percent in 1942 among the U.S. population overall whereas this increased to 43 percent in 2019.

Revealingly, yet another poll found that support for socialism in the U.S. jumped by nearly 10 percent among young people in 2020, in the midst of the pandemic. This poll found that a full 60 percent of millennials and 57 percent of Generation Z supported a “complete change of our economic system away from capitalism.” Worldwide, a 2020 poll found that a majority of people around the world (56 percent) believe capitalism is doing more harm than good. On a national level, according to the poll, lack of trust in capitalism was highest in Thailand and India (75 percent and 74 percent, respectively), with France close behind (69 percent). Majorities rejected capitalism in many Asian, European, Gulf, African, and Latin American countries. In fact, only in Australia, Canada, the U.S., South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan did majorities disagree with the assertion that capitalism currently did more harm than good.

Masses expressed this anti-capitalist sentiment in an escalation of protest during the pandemic itself. A palpable radicalization appeared to take place among workers and the poor, a heightened sense of solidarity within and across borders that intensified during the pandemic. In the U.S., for instance, no less than 1,000 strikes ripped across the country in the first six months of the contagion. Workers mounted protests to demand their safety. Meanwhile tenants called for rent strikes; immigrant justice activists surrounded detention centers; anti-incarceration organizers demanded the release of prisoners; auto, fast-food and meat processing workers went out on wildcat stoppages to force factories to shut down; homeless people occupied empty houses; and health care workers on the front lines demanded the personal protective equipment they needed to do their jobs and stay safe. For the most part wildcat strikes were organized not by union leadership but from the rank and file.

COVID-19 was thus the lightning bolt before the thunder. “Just a few weeks after lockdowns were widely imposed, protests began to reemerge,” noted the Carnegie Endowment. “Already in April [2020], the number of new protests rose to a high level; approximately one new significant anti-government protest every four days.” And there was no letup to mass protest in 2021, fueled, in the words of the Endowment, by an increasingly authoritarian political landscape and “rising economic insecurity” that “brought public frustration of the boiling point.” It added that many countries that did not previously appear in the tracker registered protests that year. Then, as the global class struggle heated up, the first four months of 2022 saw mass labor strikes breaking out in industries and countries around the world.

Devastating Effects of Capitalist Globalization
In all of their diversity, many of these fights had — and have — a common underlying denominator: an aggressive global capitalism in crisis that is pushing to expand on the backs of working masses who can tolerate no more hardship and deprivation. Capitalist states face spiraling crises of legitimacy after decades of hardship and social decay wrought by neoliberalism, aggravated by these states’ inability to manage the COVID contagion and the economic free-fall it triggered. The extent of polarization of wealth and power, of deprivation and misery among the world’s poor majority, already defied belief prior to the outbreak. In 2018, just 17 global financial conglomerates collectively managed $41.1 trillion dollars, more than half the gross domestic product of the entire planet. That same year, the richest 1 percent of humanity led by 36 million millionaires and 2,400 billionaires controlled more than half of the world’s wealth while the bottom 80 percent — nearly 6 billion people — had to make do with just 5 percent of this wealth.

In all of their diversity, many of these fights had — and have — a common underlying denominator: an aggressive global capitalism in crisis that is pushing to expand on the backs of working masses.
Worldwide, 50 percent of all people live on less than $2.50 a day and a full 80 percent live on less than $10 per day. One in three people on the planet suffer from some form of malnutrition, nearly a billion go to bed hungry each night and another 2 billion suffer from food insecurity. Refugees from war, the climate crisis, political repression and economic collapse already number in the hundreds of millions as the social fabric is torn apart and whole communities collapse in peripheral areas. The pandemic followed by the repercussions from the Russian invasion of Ukraine have heightened these conditions even further.

The international development agency Oxfam reported this past January that during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic the 10 richest men in the world more than doubled their fortunes, from $700 billion to $1.5 trillion, while 99 percent of humanity saw a fall in their income and 160 million more people fell into poverty. The World Food Program (WFP) reported in May that “the outlook for global acute food insecurity in 2022 is expected to deteriorate further relative to 2021,” a year which, according to the WFP, “surpassed all previous records.” The war in Ukraine “is likely to exacerbate the already severe 2022 acute food insecurity forecasts, given the repercussions of the war on global food, energy and fertilizer prices and supplies.”

Hundreds of millions, perhaps billions of people, have been displaced from countrysides in the Global South in recent decades by neoliberal policies, social cleansing and organized violence such the “war on drugs” and the “war on terror,” both of which have served as instruments of mass displacement and for the violent restructuring and integration of countries and regions into the new global economy. Those displaced stream into the megacities of the world that have become ground zero for mass protests.

The International Labour Office reported that 1.53 billion workers around the world were in “vulnerable” employment arrangements in 2009, representing more than 50 percent of the global workforce, and that in 2018 a majority of the 3.5 billion workers in the world “experienced a lack of material well-being, economic security, equality opportunities or scope for human development.”

As digitalization now drives a new round of worldwide restructuring it promises to extend the precariatization of workers who have employment and also to expand the ranks of humanity excluded from the labor market, while the climate crisis will generate water and food shortages, displace hundreds of millions more, and increase exposure to natural disasters.

This social crisis is explosive. It fuels mass protest by the oppressed and leads the ruling groups to deploy an ever more omnipresent global police state to contain the rebellion of the global working and popular classes. As the global civil war heats up in the post-pandemic world, the social fabric is coming undone. The crisis generates enormous political tensions that must be managed by the ruling groups in the face of societal disintegration and political collapse in many countries. It animates geopolitical conflict as states seek to externalize social and political tensions and accelerates the breakdown of the post-World War II international order, increasing the danger of international military conflagration (witness the Ukraine conflict).

Pandemic Repression and Global Police State
COVID-19 was in certain respects a blessing in disguise for the ruling class. The contagion forced protesters off the streets momentarily and gave capitalist states a respite with which to gather their repressive forces and deploy them against restive populations. The wave of repression and brutality unleashed by these states against their own citizens simply cannot be explained by the need for these states to keep them safe. To the contrary, the pandemic provided an expedient smokescreen with which to push back against the global revolt.

The case of India is revealing. Up to 150 million workers went on strike in January 2019. This was followed later that year by months of protest against proposed changes to a citizenship law that would discriminate against Muslims and by a second general strike in 2020 that brought out 250 million workers and farmers — the single largest labor mobilization in world history. The pandemic curfew imposed by the government conveniently undercut the civic uprising. When the government began to impose strict local lockdowns as the virus spread, it singled out neighborhoods identified with the protests. In these areas, heavy police barricades locked in residents for weeks. The government also forced tens of millions of striking migrant workers to march to their home villages for lockdown there, enduring on the way pitiless state repression, involving extreme dehumanization, deaths in custody, and mass arrests (all this while Mukesh Ambani, the richest man in India, increased his wealth by $12 million per hour during the pandemic).

In the United States, a wave of worker mobilizations that spread even before the COVID-19 contagion, led by a number of mass teachers strikes in 2018 and 2019, exploded during the pandemic, thanks to dismal working and unsafe working conditions in schools amid the pandemic.

The monumental 2020 Black Lives Matter uprisings were met with particularly brutal state repression. Fearful of losing control, the ruling groups left no holds barred in unleashing the state’s repressive apparatus against the largely peaceful protesters, leaving at least 14 dead, hundreds of wounded and some 10,000 arrested. (I myself participated in the protests in my city of residence, Los Angeles, where I witnessed the use by militarized police and national guard units of tear gas, stun grenades, taser guns, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and batons against protesters.)

Governments around the world centralized the response to the pandemic and many declared states of emergencies, in effect, imposing what some called “medical martial law.” Such centralized coordination may have been necessary to confront the health crisis. But centralization of emergency powers in authoritarian capitalist states was used to deploy police and military forces, to censure any criticism of governments, to contain discontent, heighten surveillance and impose repressive social control — that is, to push forward the global police state. In country after country, emergency powers were used to selectively ban protests on the grounds that they spread COVID-19, harass dissidents, censor journalists and scapegoat minority groups. At least 158 governments imposed restrictions on demonstrations.

In many countries, governments required citizens to carry documents verifying their “right” to be out of their homes during the lockdown. The idea seems to have been merely to get populations accustomed to producing papers on demand, to ask permission to exist in public space. In the Philippines, strongman President Rodrigo Duterte issued shoot-to-kill orders for anyone defying the stay-at-home lockdown, while his government stepped up its campaign of extra-judicial killing of thousands of supposed criminals. In Latin America, charged Amnesty International, governments turned to arbitrary, punitive and repressive tactics to enforce compliance with quarantine measures and clamp down on popular protest. “Added to the structural challenges and massive social and economic divides present prior to the pandemic, these measures only combine to perpetuate inequality and discrimination across the continent.” Such repression was widespread around the world. As I detail in my new book, Global Civil War: Capitalism-Post Pandemic, in country after country the pandemic provided capitalist states with a convenient pretext to crack down on the global revolt, tighten systems of mass surveillance and social control, and pass emergency legislation that gave them sweeping powers to repress the protest movements that had reached a crescendo on the eve of the outbreak.

While a major government response may have been necessary from a public health point of view, it became clear that the “new normal” as the world emerged from the pandemic would involve a more extensive global police state, including permanent mass surveillance and a new biopolitical regime in which states could use “public health” as a new pretext for keeping a lid on the global revolt. States used what international relations scholar Kees van der Pijl referred to as a “bio-political emergency” to further normalize and institutionalize state surveillance and repressive control in a way reminiscent of the aftermath of the 2001 attacks. In the wake of those attacks, 140 countries passed draconian “anti-terrorist” security legislation that often made legal the repression of social movements and political dissent. The laws remained in place long after the 2001 events.

Political Violence Pandemics
A recent report by Lloyd’s of London, a global insurance and financial conglomerate, warned that “instances of political violence contagion are becoming more frequent” and headed towards what it terms “PV [political violence] pandemics.” It identified so-called “super-strains” of political violence. Among what Lloyd’s deems as these super-strains are “anti-imperialist” “independence movements,” social movements calling for the removal of an “occupying force,” “mass pro-reform protests against national government[s],” and “armed insurrection” inspired by “Marxism” and “Islamism.”

State responses to this “political violence” are big business. According to a 2016 report, Global Riot Control System Market, 2016–2020, which was prepared by a global business intelligence firm whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, in the next few years there will be a multi-billion-dollar boom in the worldwide market for “riot control systems.” The report forecast “a dramatic rise in civil unrest around the world.”

Historically, labor militancy and mass protest unfold in waves, calibrated to capitalist expansion and crises, wars and major political changes. The ruling groups managed to beat back the last major cycle of worldwide mobilization from below, in the 1960s and early 1970s, through capitalist globalization and the neoliberal counterrevolution. But this time circumstances are different. Global capitalism is reaching limits to its expansion, given the ecological meltdown and the escalating threat of nuclear confrontation. The crisis is unprecedented and also existential. In addition, the global economy and society are more integrated and interdependent than ever, and global communications connect communities in resistance with one another across borders and on a planetary scale.

Short of overthrowing the system, the only way out of the social crisis for the mass of humanity is a reversal of escalating inequalities through a radical redistribution of wealth and power downward and through drastic environmental measures. The challenge for emancipatory struggles is how to translate mass revolt into a project that can challenge the power of global capital and bring about such a radical redistribution. To date, the global revolt has spread unevenly and faces many challenges, including fragmentation, absorption by capitalist culture, and for the most part the lack of coherent left ideology and a vision of a transformative project beyond immediate demands. To effectively fight back, disjointed movements must find ways to come together into a larger emancipatory project, and develop creative strategies to push such a project forward.

omment by eb - Answer from the government: Give more to police and military, because capitalism ain't going down without a fight.
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Reply Sat 21 May, 2022 10:02 am
Robert Reich
The Fifth Circuit court dealt a major blow to the Securities and Exchange Commission’s ability to enforce securities law and seek penalties for violations. In its 2-1 ruling, the court said that using SEC judges, also known as administrative law judges, is unconstitutional because it denies fraud defendants their right to a jury trial. The court also said that SEC judges have no authority under the Constitution because Congress did not provide guidance on when the SEC should bring cases in-house instead of a court.
Here’s what this decision means: the Fifth Circuit gutted the ability of a regulatory agency to enforce federal law. Congress has the power to give federal agencies the authority to enact regulations that protect us in our daily lives. Congress defines each agency’s goals, but leaves it up to the health and safety experts in those agencies to craft and enforce regulations. For instance, the FDA didn’t need congressional approval to recall the defective baby formula that was making babies sick. The SEC doesn’t need congressional approval to charge hedge fund managers with securities fraud.
But this ruling says that the SEC actually doesn’t have the power to enforce securities law, meaning all other agencies’ enforcement power could be at risk. That means the federal government has essentially lost the ability to enforce regulations. This decision won’t just apply to the SEC: gutting regulations has been a key part of the Republican agenda for decades. I know regulations don’t sound very exciting, but it’s how the government keeps us safe: OSHA protects us in our workplaces, the EPA keeps our air fresh and our water clean, the FDA makes sure we don’t get sick from eating certain foods, et cetera.
Make no mistake: deregulation is anti-worker, anti-consumer, and anti-environment. If this agenda succeeds, we all lose.
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Reply Mon 23 May, 2022 03:42 pm
Biden's foreign and military activity tends to scare the **** out of me.
Reply Mon 23 May, 2022 07:20 pm
Just when you think WWIII will be Russia-based, Biden sidles up to Taiwan…
Reply Mon 23 May, 2022 07:41 pm
When I admit to being scared it's not just rhetoric.
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Reply Tue 24 May, 2022 06:35 am
In the first two years of the Biden presidency, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has become one of big business’ favorite lawmakers, thanks to the way he stalled and ultimately killed Democrats’ Build Back Better bill, a health care and climate spending package that included the party’s signature drug pricing measure.

Now, with Manchin signaling he could support a new compromise budget bill that includes drug pricing reforms, Big Pharma isn’t taking any chances — and so it has started ramping up advertising pressure in his state. The industry is likely hoping for a repeat of Manchin’s habit of signaling support for popular initiatives like a billionaire tax, and then quickly backing down the moment moneyed interests raise objections.

Speaking to the world’s financial elites at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Monday, Manchin said Congress still has “an opportunity” to pass meaningful legislation before the midterm elections — including on prescription drug prices. The statement was significant, because Manchin has long asserted that he supports some measures to reduce medicine prices.

Fearing legislative progress, a nonprofit called the Alliance for Patient Access recently started running ads in the Washington area and all over West Virginia warning that Congress is debating legislation that would “hurt innovation” and prevent companies from developing new treatments. The Alliance for Patient Access website makes clear the organization is funded by the pharmaceutical industry. The alliance published a list of its associate members and supporters in late 2020, which names the powerful drug lobby Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) as well as three dozen drugmakers.

The ads feature a woman named Katie who says she has chronic migraine disease.

“Treatments have come a long way, so the possibility of living without migraine gives me hope,” Katie says in the ad. “But Washington is considering walls that would hurt innovation. Please don’t let this happen. Innovation in medicine needs to keep going so that I keep having hope. To find new treatments for tomorrow, we can’t let Congress take away our hope today.”

Pharmaceutical companies AbbVie and Lundbeck are members of the Alliance for Patient Access and manufacture drugs used to prevent migraines.

Ads Belied By Federal Data
The ads’ central assertion that limiting drug prices would fundamentally stifle research and development is wildly false: Last year, the Congressional Budget Office found that even if profits on top drugs decreased by 15 to 25 percent, there would only be “a 0.5 percent average annual reduction in the number of new drugs entering the market in the first decade.”

The reason for such a small decline? The federal government heavily subsidizes research on nearly every drug that ultimately gets approved for sale in the U.S.

In truth, the drug pricing measure being debated in Washington does not pose any real threat to the industry: Democrats substantially watered down their proposal last year, so that it would cost pharmaceutical companies far less money and only allow Medicare to negotiate prices on a handful of older drugs each year.

But drugmakers don’t want Congress to set the precedent of allowing the government to negotiate any drug prices, like most other high-income countries do, since that power could be expanded further down the road. They also don’t want to lose any of their outlandish profits — which is why the industry is now pummeling West Virginia with TV ads.

“The law to prohibit Medicare from using its buying power to negotiate lower drug prices was passed by the Republican Congress way back in 2003,” Craig Holman, an ethics lobbyist at Public Citizen, told The Lever. “The law not only prohibited Medicare from negotiating lower drug prices, it also prohibited the importing of cheaper drugs from Canada and other countries. It was a dream come true for the drug industry. Only now, 20 years later, is Congress debating repealing that disastrous legislative mistake. Even conservatives like Sen. Manchin now understand it was a mistake. But the pharmaceutical industry will fight back hard.”

The Insulin Angle
Though Democrats’ bill has been watered down, the House recently passed a $35 cap on the co-pays that people with insurance are expected to pay for insulin each month — and that provision remains part of the Build Back Better framework still being considered in Congress.

The House version of Build Back Better that passed in November also specifically listed insulin products as eligible for government price negotiation.

Reducing the price of insulin could threaten the profits of Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi, which control the U.S. insulin market. Those companies have each jacked up insulin analog prices more than 400 percent since introducing their products to the point where the average U.S. price for a dose of insulin is triple what it costs in other high-income countries.

All three companies are members of the Alliance for Patient Access — and have increased their lobbying spending amid the push for lower insulin prices.

“The Alliance for Patient Access ad campaign is the very worst of a wealthy business interest running deceptive advertising designed to trick the public into doing their bidding for the industry,” said Holman.

The Alliance for Patient Access’ West Virginia ad campaign follows a similar effort by a pharma front group called the Coalition to Protect Access, which ran ads claiming that Democrats’ drug pricing measure “would harm our ability to fight pandemics” — despite the fact that the U.S. government poured tens of billions of dollars into efforts to develop COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.

Although his daughter previously ran a pharmaceutical company infamous for hiking the price of EpiPens, Manchin has consistently expressed support for allowing the government to negotiate drug prices.

Late last month, Manchin told Bloomberg News that he and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) had started discussing a new budget bill to try to reduce inflation. According to Bloomberg, Manchin “said that it would make sense to include cuts to prescription drug costs in the package.”

Axios reported last week that the conservative Democrat has been pushing “to cobble together a compromise package on climate, energy independence, deficit reduction and prescription drug reform.”

The West Virginia ads are likely aimed at trying to convince Manchin to back down — which he often does the moment a powerful lobby starts speaking up.

In October last year, during conversations about funding for Democrats’ Build Back Better legislation, Manchin was reported to be on board with a White House proposal to tax billionaires’ investment income before he came out against it. Around the same time, CNBC reported that “billionaire investor Nelson Peltz said he talks to Sen. Joe Manchin every week.”

Two months later, the Washington Post reported that Manchin “told the White House last week that he would support some version of a tax targeting billionaire wealth.” By March, Manchin was shutting down a new proposal from Biden to place a 20 percent minimum tax on the unrealized capital gains of households worth more than $100 million.

- The Lever
0 Replies
Reply Tue 24 May, 2022 10:52 am
Wonder why oligarchs are agitating for either a hot or rhetorical war with China. Using fear to encroach even further in our privacy? Camps for Chinese Americans? (and any other groups that would be usefully censored or disappeared?)

More clampdowns on speech and platforms that don’t follow the national narrative?

Fun times.

Protect speech.
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The 2008 Democrat Convention - Discussion by Lash
McCain is blowing his election chances. - Discussion by McGentrix
Snowdon is a dummy - Discussion by cicerone imposter
GAFFNEY: Whose side is Obama on? - Discussion by gungasnake
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