(Rep. John Shadegg) – For opponents of socialism this week was typically – albeit disgustingly – frustrating.
On the economy: Speaker Pelosi provided new proof that she has no clue what makes the economy work and that her motto is: “when in doubt, spend.” While few American companies are laying plans to increase spending by a third, Nancy Pelosi is proposing, and the House will vote this week, to increase FY 2010 appropriations in some categories by as much as 33.3%. The average increase in spending she is proposing in this legislation is 13%.
Last fall, President Obama said: “We cannot simply spend as we please and defer the consequences to the next budget, the next Administration, or the next generation.” Apparently, Mrs. Pelosi didn’t get the memo.
On the health care fight in the Senate, it was equally dismal. Republican leadership, or at least some in the Republican leadership, appeared to have backed down. Their advice to conservative members is: “be nice,” don’t be “obstructionists.” Conservative staffers on the House side have been reporting for at least two days that they believe their bosses are giving up. And conservative Senate staffers are confirming the same concern directly to me.
Hopes were lifted when, for a moment, it appeared an amendment by John McCain to allow drug reimportation (forcing the rest of the world to pick up their fair share of the cost of developing cutting-edge drugs) would be offered and would slow progress on the bill, if not stop it completely.
As you know, America’s pharmaceutical companies, represented by their trade association, PhRMA, stand to make millions of dollars from Obamacare. As a result, they sold out long ago to proponents of Obamacare, including the President, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid and have spent millions in advertising to advance Obamacare.
Such an amendment would pose a dire threat to the pharmaceutical companies and would force them to end their support for this massive government takeover of health care. While there is no guarantee that this amendment would kill Obamacare forever, its adoption would cause serious problems for PhRMA and Obamacare proponents.
Conservatives must understand that the proposed reimportation amendment isn’t about the reimportation of drugs – it’s about a tactic that might kill Obamacare and the impending threat of socialized medicine.
Unfortunately, some Republican Senators, who are heavily dependent on major contributions from PhRMA, have hesitated to pursue this strategy. Their rationalization is that allowing reimportation will result in counterfeit or adulterated drugs making their way into the American market.
Examined carefully, it comes down to a belief by some that only the government can protect you from counterfeit or adulterated drugs.
Long before there was an FDA or a Consumer Product Safety Commission our parents relied on the free market to test and assure consumers which products were reliable and safe and which ones weren’t. Before the “nanny state” concluded that only it could protect us, Americans relied on the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval and Underwriters Laboratories stickers to assure themselves of the safety and efficacy of consumer products.
God forbid PhRMA should have to face free market competition and consumers in Canada, France, and England, or should be required to contribute to the cost of developing cutting-edge/life-saving drugs.
If America allowed drug reimportation, an entity similar to Good Housekeeping or Underwriters Laboratories would emerge in the private market and provide assurance to American consumers that drugs manufactured outside the United States with their seal would meet purity and efficacy standards.
Regardless of the merits, we must use the proposed reimportation amendment to derail the threat of socialized medicine.
This is where you come in. Today, tomorrow, this week, this weekend, without fail, please do two things:
1) Call the Senate Republican leadership and tell them you expect them to fight to stop Obamacare: no excuses, no rationalizations, no listening to moneyed interest from whom they want contributions. Tell them you are watching and you will hold them accountable if they don’t fight with every ounce of their being;
2) Call Republican conservatives and encourage them. Call or email Senator Tom Coburn, call or email Senator Jim DeMint, call or email Senator Richard Burr, and ask them who else is truly engaged in the fight so you can call or encourage those members.
You may recall that Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma was prepared to force the left to read every word of this bill on the floor of the Senate before this debate began. I can tell you for a fact that he was pressured out of doing so by timid colleagues. Those members of the Senate who don’t yet know where America stands on this issue need to feel the heat, and only you can provide it.
If their DC phones don’t answer, call their district offices or go visit them. To borrow a well-worn phrase, if not now, when? If not us, who?
(John Shadegg is a Republican congressman from Arizona)