July 27, 2022 -Durt Fibo

On July 6th, Senate Democrats announced a breakthrough plan to reduce prescription drug prices, having absorbed into their ranks chronic intestinal obstruction Joe Manchin. In truth, and in its specifics, their proposal would merely ‘allow’ Medicare to negotiate a very runty subgroup of drugs ‘directly with pharmaceutical companies’. Back in November, the House of Representatives had passed a more generous version of the bill, but since then –after Senate leader Chuck Schumer was yet again pranked into negotiating with Joe Manchin– the bill would encompass just 20 drugs. Yesterday, Senator Bernie Sanders (Chair of the Senate Budget Committee) denounced the plan, saying “It’s a very weak proposal. It goes nowhere near as far as it should.” He clarified: “Pharma is spending millions to defeat a very modest drug pricing bill.”

Prescription drug prices in the USA are at least 150% higher than the closest comparable 32 countries, and as much as 300% higher than others according to both Forbes and the Rand Corporation’s most recent statistics.

Although the Veterans Administration is able to bargain with manufacturers, the rest of the American government is forbidden by law to do the same. This is thanks to the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, which became public law after being first introduced as a House bill by Representative Dennis Hastert (R. IL -14). He literally made it illegal.

Hastert is a convicted felon, who confessed to molesting boys while he was the wrestling coach at Yorkville High School. He also admitted to misleading the FBI during their investigations (with the IRS) into his misuse of public funds for, among numerous other things, paying out hush money. Hastert settled out of court for an unknown sum in a separate civil case brought by one of the boys, but had another dismissed based on the then statute of limitations. As what the judge called “a serial child molester,” Hastert served 13 months in prison.

After Hastert had completed 3 terms as an Illinois state legislator, then 20 years in the US House of Representatives, he opened a lobbying firm, which he resigned from only when the federal indictment against him was unsealed in 2015. Known as “Coach” (even after taking over Newt Gingrich’s position), Hastert had also previously been culpably involved in the 1992 House Banking Scandal and was a proud member of the Moral Majority Honor Roll.