Contrary to popular conservative belief, liberals are not a monolithic sort. We have a variety of differing opinions on a number of subjects. I’d like to get into a subject that my good pal Manny wrote about recently, and I’d like to demonstrate one of these differences of liberal opinion in the process.
Manny wrote the piece shown below, in which he makes the argument that Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) isn’t bought and paid for by “big pharma.” Some on the left have been going at Senator Booker pretty hard for his vote this week on an amendment that would have allowed medications to be brought into the country at lower prices. The amendment was introduced by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who some might remember as “the Guy Who Would Have Wiped The Floor With Donald Trump.”
But anyway, here’s Manny’s well-written piece, below.
My social media blew up yesterday with condemnation of Cory Booker and other Senate Democrats for voting against an amendment introduced by Bernie Sanders that would allow for the import of prescription drugs in order to drive prices down.
Some on the left have been super-pissed at Booker not just because he voted against the amendment, but because he took money from pharmaceutical companies before doing so. Manny makes an argument that because the amount of money Booker took from big pharma doesn’t constitute the lion’s share of Booker’s donations, he can’t really be considered to be in big pharma’s pocket. It’s a logical argument, but I’m a fan of looking at these things in terms of what the final results are.
And in the final analysis, Senator Booker was a willing accomplice in screwing over people who can’t afford their meds. When the dust had settled, whether Booker took one dollar or twenty million dollars, the fact is that pharmaceutical companies got the exact outcome they wanted…with Cory Booker’s help.
Booker of course has tried to spin his transgression. He’s said that he was concerned about a lack of safety regulations in the amendment, but we’re not talking about dumping untested prescription drugs on the American people. We’re talking about bringing in drugs that have already been tested and deemed safe by the FDA and foreign drug regulators. The amendment wasn’t to allow big pharma to give black tar heroin to your kid to treat the common cold; it was an attempt to break the grip that pharmaceutical companies have on the prices of vital medicines.
Don’t get me wrong — I’m not saying this makes Booker an evil man. I’m not saying it means much more than serving as proof that there are no perfect politicians. There are no heroes in capes fighting the bad guys. No matter how you look at this situation, to me you can’t ignore the cynical politics deeply embedded in Booker’s decision to vote against the amendment. Again, it doesn’t really matter if the amount of money was five bucks or a truck load of cash dumped on Booker’s front lawn.
The end result is big pharma pays Booker, and then to what should be no one’s astonishment, he votes with the best interests of the pharmaceutical companies.
Cory Booker isn’t the only one who deserves to be chastised though. He shouldn’t be singled out. There were twelve other corporatist Democrats who sold the American people out this week. They deserve just as much scorn and derision as Booker does. These kinds of votes are exactly why the Democrats lost in the rust belt. The perception is that neither party truly cares about the little guy anymore, and when thirteen people in the party that bills itself as being more for the common man than Corporate America sell the common man down the river?
It only further reinforces that perception.
To me, it’s not even really a question as to whether Booker or any of the other Democrats who voted down the amendment are in big pharma’s pockets. It’s self-evident; money goes from big pharma bank accounts to Democrats’ campaign coffers, and then lo and behold big pharma gets the perfect number of Democrats they need to kill an amendment they don’t like. It doesn’t even really matter which thirteen Dems did it. Because if Booker didn’t, I’m sure six more Democratic senators would have been right in line behind him to vote “no” on the amendment.
The question at hand really is how angry Democrats should get about this. To me it seems nonsensical to deny that Booker absolutely sold his party out on this vote. But does that mean he’s the worst offender? Of course not. At least as far as we know now. Though, and not to get all Tea Party on the guy, but if Democratic voters never, ever hold politicians accountable for their naked and transparent quid pro quo bullshit, Democratic voters will never be anything but super-duper disappointed in their elected officials.
Democrats have a big imaging problem right now. They don’t look like the party of the people to a lot of the people in the party. Partisan Democrats will tell you I’m making something out of nothing, but principles aren’t nothing. Booker’s excuses seem really flimsy, and the truth is that big pharma wanted the amendment killed, big pharma gave money to Cory Booker, and Cory Booker helped twelve other Democrats kill the amendment.
Call it whatever you want, but the scoreboard shows a victory for big pharma and Booker was one of their star players of the game.
Follow James on Twitter @JamboSchlarmbo.