Senator Joe Donnelly Walks With Big Pharma

By: Todd Smekens

Muncie, Indiana Blog – You would expect the newly added Koch puppet senator, Todd Young, would kill the Canadian drug importation bill introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders. What might surprise you is our only elected democrat at the state level in Indiana, Joe Donnelly, also voted against the bill introduced by Bernie Sanders. You would think after November’s clobbering, the Democratic National Committee would be sending mass emails to all state offices insisting public officials reconnect with the people. You’d think November’s wake up call would shake some sense into the Democratic Party, but money buys lots of obstruction from both parties.

Americans Favor Drug Importation

From the Intercept’s, David Dayen and Zaid Zilani:

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.

The Senate voted down the amendment 52-46, with two senators not voting. Unusually, the vote was not purely along party lines: 13 Republicans joined Sanders and a majority of Democrats in supporting the amendment, while 13 Democrats and a majority of Republicans opposed it.

The timing of the bill makes me believe this new law was Bernie’s way of testing the DNC – show Americans whose side the Democratic Party was on – the people or industry. All the data points to representing the people, but once again, they chose industry. Joe received $245K over the past five years from Big Pharma, so his vote was already bought.

I’ve written many articles and posts about neoliberal policies and how they’ve divided the country into winners (1%) and losers (99%). With both political parties and the press now owned by large corporate interests, there really are no legitimate “left” or “right”. The old arguments between republicans and democrats are lost in this new world of corporate dominance. By eliminating our representative democracy and replacing it with a Plutocracy (Fascism), we’ve altered old political models and their institutions.

Today, party loyalists cling to the institutions they’ve supported for decades. I certainly understand and respect their devotion. The problem is their feelings aren’t reciprocated. Our representatives only care about us during election season – they still allow us to vote so we look democratic. However, once they’ve won, it’s back to the phone banks to dial for dollars.

Both Parties in Bed with Donor Class

For Hoosier Senator, Joe Donnelly, it means calling on Eli Lilly, and other U.S. drug makers. According to Open Secrets, Joe has received $245,000 over the past five years from the health and pharmaceutical industry. Joe voted against the Canadian drug importation bill which would have lowered prescription drugs, even though his Hoosier constituency is sadly being called “Flyover Country”.  Senator Donnelly and his political party have sold out the people for their donors. This is the cause of populist anger against both corrupted parties.

Am I exaggerating to make a point? I’ve been accused of “embellishing” the donor class theory, especially after SCOTUS ruled 5-4 in Citizens United case, “There is no evidence of corporations getting something in return (quid pro quo) for their donations.”

However, let’s see if the SCOTUS ruling has merit. Even our local university economists agree that Hoosiers median household personal incomes are stuck in the early 90’s. We’ve seen no personal income growth. The higher paying unionized middle class wages have given way to lower paying service jobs. But, what about drug prices over the same period?

According to Corp Watch’s December, 2016 article:

A recent Washington Post analysis of the price increases has stirred up outrage. The newspaper noted that Humalog, an Eli Lilly brand of insulin that was sold for $21 per bottle in the U.S. 20 years ago, is now priced at $255, which represents a 700 percent markup, after adjusting for inflation.

“People are dying or getting sicker because they can’t afford their insulin, just so Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk can make outrageous profits,” Bernie Sanders, a U.S. senator and former presidential candidate, tweeted.

“The history of insulin captures one of the mystifying complexities of the pharmaceutical market — how long-standing drugs become more expensive with time and competition fails to hold down prices,” writes Carolyn Y. Johnson in the Washington Post. “Companies point to improvements in their drugs, but medical experts say some of those changes are simply a strategy to keep prices high with new patent protections.

To reiterate, Hoosiers’ incomes have remained flat for the past two decades while drug prices have soared 700%. How is this affordable or even sustainable? Forget about repealing Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act, Big Pharma is extorting vast sums of money from Americans and they use our political class to perpetrate their crimes.

It’s Simple Extortion

Joe’s excuse is probably just like Cory Booker and other popular democrats – “We’re concerned with the safety of imported drugs.”. I guess they missed the bill’s, “safe drug clause”. The bottom line is Joe and his fellow democrats, have no excuse other than extortion by Big Pharma. The campaign donations totaling $245,000 was in exchange for his loyalty when certain bills come for a vote in the senate. In reality, he’s an employee of the firm. Joe and his publicist can rationalize and justify the corruption they want, but they’re just excuses.

According to David and Zaid,

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.

“My first response to that is show me the dead Canadians. Where are the dead Canadians?” former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, once asked during his own push to allow for importation.

There are no dead Canadians, but there will be dead Hoosiers and/or bankrupt Americans. Big Pharma owns Senator Joe Donnelly and many other politicians. The list of politicians receiving money from Eli Lilly alone is embarrassing. Overall, Americans see only minor increases in wages over time, but drug prices and other expenses grow dramatically. The math isn’t sustainable. Neither is our corrupted two party political system.

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Todd Smekens

Journalist, consultant, publisher, and servant-leader with a passion for truth-seeking. Enjoy motorcycling, meditation, and spending quality time with my daughter and rescue hound. Spiritually-centered first and foremost. Lived in multiple states within the USA and frequent traveler to the mountains.

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