House 'Freedom' Dicks Warn Big Pharma NOT To Cooperate With Congress
The drug prices in America, to borrow a phrase, are too damn high. They are ridiculously high. People can't afford their insulin, they can't afford their EpiPens, they can't afford their PrEP. It's really, really, really bad. Unfortunately, unlike nearly every other country in the world that has a form of universal health care, we cannot bargain down drug prices, and have to pay retail. But that retail price has gotten a lot higher on a lot of drugs over the past two decades.
Thus, Elijah Cummings, as Democratic chair of the House Oversight Committee, set out to do an investigation into how major drug companies set their prices. Why not! Seems fair enough, right?
Well, Reps. Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows and other Republicans did not think so, and sent out a letter to 12 major drug companies warning them not to comply with the investigation, as doing so could lead to Rep. Cummings leaking information that might tank their stock prices.
As we understand the chairman's request to you, he is seeking a wide range of highly sensitive business-proprietary information that would likely harm the competitiveness of your company if disclosed publicly.
The signatories then "quoted" Rep. Cummings supposedly bragging about his evil plan to bring the stock prices of poor, innocent drug companies down:
We have three people, Congressman, on my staff— I call them the "drug team." And what they deal with is the cost of high price of prescription drugs. If you follow the headlines, we have already seen the impact they have had… on stock prices with regard to drugs. I mean, it has been astronomical.
Except ... if you listen to Rep. Cummings's actual statement, he's not talking about maliciously tanking stock prices, he's talking about the impact on taxpayer savings that would occur as a result of "rooting out waste, fraud and abuse." (If you thought the ellipsis in the GOP statement might have been a BAD ELLIPSIS, we did too! But, oddly, the words they took out right there did NOT alter the meaning of Cummings's statement. Strange days, etc.!)
The letter also claims Rep. Cummings is a gossip who cannot be trusted to keep sensitive information a secret, accusing him of "releasing cherry-picked excerpts from a highly sensitive closed-door interview" regarding the 25 people who were given White House security clearances despite having been previously rejected by the Personnel Security Office for "serious disqualifying issues," without "consulting Republican Members or having a vote of the committee."
Yeah, I'm not sure that's the kind of thing that should remain a secret? The public really has a right to know about these kinds of things. And if the Trump administration has no problem giving security clearance to people with, ahem ... "issues involving foreign influence, conflicts of interest, concerning personal conduct, financial problems, drug use, and criminal conduct" then neither they nor the Republican members of Congress should have any problem with the public knowing about that.
In an emailed statement to Buzzfeed News, Rep. Cummings said, "Rep. Jordan is on the absolute wrong side here... He would rather protect drug company 'stock prices' than the interests of the American people."
Meanwhile, Jim Jordan's people are insisting that the letter was not meant to tell drug companies not to comply with the investigation, while maintaining that Rep. Cummings's real plan here is to tank their stock prices. For what reason, he cannot say, but he sure feels like it's true, and isn't that what matters?
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse