Wow! Looks Like Swing District Dems *Really* Want To Let Medicare Negotiate Drug Prices!
For years now, we've been hearing about how terribly divided Americans are. It's a rather obvious point to make given that we have some pretty solid reasons for keeping our distance from many of our fellow citizens, especially the ones who haven't been vaccinated yet, but it makes those who make it feel very mature. Like, the kind of mature where the t is actually pronounced like a t and not like "matchure" as we peons are known to say.
While I think it would actually be kind of unsettling if we all collectively agreed on everything, it is nice when we can all (mostly) agree to support a thing that is good. Like how 84 percent of us support background checks for gun ownership. And how 91 percent support criminal justice reform, and 71 percent (including a majority of Republicans) believe that our national hard on for locking people up is often counterproductive to public safety. And how, curiously, a majority of Americans (including Republicans) actually tend to agree with Democrats on most major issues — particularly the environment, health care and immigration.
Another thing a whole lot of Americans agree on? Letting Medicare negotiate drug prices! Eighty-one percent of us are very into that — 97 percent of Democrats, eighty percent of independents and 61 percent of Republicans. It's especially popular among seniors for the obvious reasons, and I've heard they tend to vote a lot.
That is likely why those who signed a recent letter to Democratic leadership pushing to include a provision for this in the $3.5 trillion spending package all represent Republican-leaning swing districts. And while one might easily predict that Katie Porter — a pro-Medicare For All progressive who happens to be the first Democrat to represent her district since it was created in 1953 — would sign it, some of the other signatories might come as a bit of a surprise. Because a whole lot of them are moderates and centrists.
Via Huffington Post:
"The number one issue I hear about in my district is the cost of prescription drugs," said Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.), the letter's lead author. "We have got to get something done. We can't afford to wait."
While state legislatures are set to redraw congressional lines before the 2022 elections, the Democratic signatories ― including Michigan Reps. Haley Stevens and Elissa Slotkin, Kansas Rep. Sharice Davids, and Texas Reps. Colin Allred and Lizzie Fletcher ― currently represent districts with a Cook Partisan Voter Index score of R +1. (The Cook PVI, which is based off of recent election results, is widely used by political professionals to estimate the partisan lean of a district or state.)
Given that, you'd think all of the Congressional Democrats would be behind them, right? Wrong. While the measure has significant support, including from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, another, smaller group of centrist Democrats sent their own letter to congressional leadership this year saying they wouldn't vote for any health care related measure unless Republicans say it's okay, emphasizing the need to work with pharmaceutical companies so as to ensure that they have enough money for "innovation." And by "innovation" they mean CEO pay and advertising bucks.
That group includes Rep. Scott Peters (CA), Rep. Jake Auchincloss (MA), Rep. Kurt Schrader (OR), Rep. Kathleen Rice (NY), Rep. Stephanie Murphy (FL), Rep. Lou Correa (CA), Rep. Marilyn Strickland (WA), Rep. Frank Mrvan (IN), Rep. Josh Gottheimer (NJ), and Rep. Tony Cardenas (CA).
These Dems largely come from safe Democratic seats and many of them have been known to take a whole lot of money from pharmaceutical lobbies. By sheer coincidence, we are sure.
While this group of moderates does include some members who hold swing seats, many of them ― including Peters, New Jersey Rep. Josh Gottheimer and Massachusetts Rep. Jake Auchincloss ― also have a history of taking significant donations from the pharmaceutical industry. In contrast with the members demanding action on drug prices, the moderates pushing back represent districts with an average PVI of D +9.
Gottheimer, in particular, has regularly attacked progressives and suggested they hurt Democrats' electoral chances. "If you are spending all of your resources and time fighting with each other instead of fighting the other team, that is a huge distraction," he told The Washington Post this week, explaining why he formed a PAC dedicated to fending off progressive primary challenges.
But this time, he and his allies are distracting the party from passing politically potent legislation that could help the party's most vulnerable members.
This would be why it's a bad idea to make up ridiculous narratives like that instead of just saying how you really feel. Starting from a place of honesty is traditionally more productive than starting from a place of bullshit. But hey! Maybe it's not just that he personally dislikes progressives and would prefer they not run for office, but that he really does hate intraparty disagreements. In that case, surely he and the others will listen to the pleas of his fellow centrists who clearly believe that letting Medicare negotiate prices will help them win in their swing districts. Wouldn't that be so nice?
Besides — everyone knows only suckers pay retail.
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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. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse