Sunday, August 16, 2009

2% solution

Obama on Drugs: 98% Cheney? by Greg Palast via ZNet.

Obama and the Democrats are bragging about how Obama got the insurance companies to cut the amount they plan to raise the cost of drugs by $80 billion. And be careful to note that they aren't cutting the costs by $80 billion. They are just agreeing to raise prices by that much less.

Greg Palast did the math, and compared to the current amount the US spends on prescription drugs ($3.6 trillion), that promise is worth 2%. Drug prices were expected to double in the next ten years. Now that 100% increase will only be a 98% increase. For that, the Democrats sold off single-payer and any other progressive ideas for health care.

What did that cost us? The New England Journal of Medicine notes that 13 European nations successfully regulate the price of drugs, reducing the average cost of name-brand prescription medicines by 35% to 55%. Obama gave that up for his 2%.

The Veterans Administration is able to push down the price it pays for patent medicine by 40% through bargaining power. George Bush stopped Medicare from bargaining for similar discounts, an insane ban that Obama said he'd overturn. But, once within Tauzin's hypnotic gaze, Obama agreed to lock in Bush's crazy and costly no-bargaining ban for the next decade.

What else went down in Obama's drug deal? To find out, I called C-SPAN to get a copy of the videotape of the meeting with the drug companies. I was surprised to find they didn't have such a tape despite the President's campaign promise, right there on CNN in January 2008, "These negotiations will be on C-SPAN."

This puzzled me. When Dick Cheney was caught having secret meetings with oil companies to discuss Bush's Energy Bill, we denounced the hugger-muggers as a case of foxes in the henhouse.

Cheney's secret meetings with lobbyists and industry bigshots were creepy and nasty and evil.

But the Obama crew's secret meetings with lobbyists and industry bigshots were, the President assures us, in the public interest.

We know Cheney's secret confabs were shady and corrupt because Cheney scowled out the side of his mouth.

Obama grins in your face.

See the difference?

The difference is 2%.

How is getting screwed by the Democrats and big corporations any different from getting screwed by the Republicans and big corporations? We keep hearing that the Democrats are a 'lessor-evil'. Now we know exactly how much lessor --- 2%.

Reminds me of the earlier Palast quote I keep up on the left side bar
"It doesn't make it any less of a crime if the President drives the getaway car."

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