Health & Freedom

Influence Peddling and Government Corruption

Anyone watching the CBS News program,"60 Minutes" had to be thoroughly disgusted, but should not have been surprised, by the corruption depicted in the hallowed halls of Congress. The passing of the "Big Pharmaceutical Windfall Profits Act", -woops, a slip of the keyboard, actually the grossly mislabeled "Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act" of 2003 shows us the criminal influence that Pharmaceutical companies have with supposed "public servants"/law makers.

Who even remembers or knows any details about this bill? One reason is our esteemed public servants deliberately kept it and its unsavory details under the public radar except for how great it would be for Americans in need. Congress passed this bill in the dead of night, at 3 A.M. after intense influence peddling and "strong arm" tactics/twisting the arms of those not already supporting this major criminal act. Even then President Bush could have stood up for the American taxpayer and vetoed it, but he instead played the political angle and signed it. At least I hope he did it for that reason and not for monetary enrichment reasons. On that thought, it might be interesting to see how many politicians have stock in their portfolio that
would be benefited.

The CBS News report stated "The unorthodox roll call on one of the most expensive bills ever placed before the House of Representatives began in the middle of the night, long after most people in Washington [and America] had switched off C-SPAN and gone to sleep." The only witnesses were congressional staffers, hundreds of lobbyists, and U.S. Representatives like Dan Burton, R-Ind., and Walter Jones, R-N.C. "The pharmaceutical lobbyists wrote the bill," says Jones. "The bill was over 1,000 pages. And it got to the members of the House that morning, and we voted for it at about 3 a.m. in the morning." Is anyone living in fantasy land and believing that any of our Congressman actually read the provisions of this act?

It's obvious why the vote finally took place at 3 a.m. In the words of Dan Burton, "I think a lot of the shenanigans that were going on that night, they didn't want on national television in primetime," Congressman Jones said, "I've been in politics for 22 years, and it was the ugliest night I have ever seen in 22 years."

The most disgusting and troubling example of the criminal influence of the pharmaceutical lobby was the provision that prohibited medicare from negotiating better prices for volume purchasing, … and who buys in larger volume that the federal government? Even the Veteran's Administration negotiates substantial savings for the American taxpayer because of their volume purchasing power. As a basic Economics 101, this is one reason (notwithstanding Chinese slave labor being another prime reason) large retailers such as Wal-Mart are able to offer products at much lower
shelf prices to the public. You get a better price for buying 1000 bottles of our products than you would for buying one.

The influence peddling and the sale of votes to the drug lobby was as brazen and flagrant as any corrupt politician or pettifoggering attorney could ever exhibit. No less than seven Senators and congressmen obtained lucrative positions and regis-tered as lobbyists for Pharmaceutical companies shortly after this bill was steam-rolled through Congress.

CBS News reported that, "the drug lobby was so interested in this bill that they had over 1000 lobbyists working on it. Ron Pollack the executive director of Families USA, a nonpartisan health care watchdog group, says it all boiled down to a key provision in the legislation. It prohibited Medicare and the federal government from using its vast purchasing power to negotiate lower prices directly from the drug companies.

"The key goal was to make sure there'd be no interference in the drug companies' abilities to charge high prices and to continue to increase those prices," says Pollack. Pollack says there's no question that this was prompted by the pharmaceutical lobby. "They were the ones who wanted to make sure Medicare could charge high prices and to continue to increase those prices," he said. The drug industry says that competition among private insurance plans that service the Medicare pro-gram help keep prices low. But Families USA reported in a January study that Medicare patients are being charged nearly 60 percent more for the top 20 drugs than veterans pay under a program run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs."

Are you sick at your stomach yet? I certainly am. It is not only time for a complete overhaul of the way lobbyists are permitted access to our government officials, but it is time for a comprehensive investigation starting with how this Act was passed. RICO and influencing peddling charges should be filed with swift and fair trials followed by immediate public floggings and hangings.

If we don't get these gangsters out of our government, we will not have a country left in a very short time, …and it may already be too late. A few good men like Congressman Dan Burton of Indiana and Walter Jones of North Carolina are simply not enough to stem the tide of graft and corruption that is gnawing like a cancer on the soul of our Republic.

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