In the midst of the gutting of the core provisions of the health care bill is some unnoticed Senate floor action. I am just amazed at the news out of the Senate last night:
In a victory for President Obama and his allies in the pharmaceutical industry...
Let me stop there and say that line alone is unsurprising, but enough to make you vomit-
...the Senate today turned aside a bid by a bipartisan group of lawmakers to make it easier to import cheaper prescription drugs from Canada and Western Europe -- a proposal that threatened to derail the Democrats' landmark healthcare bill.
The vote on the amendment -- cosponsored by Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) -- was 51-48, nine short of the 60 needed to pass.
The politically charged amendment held up the Senate for a week as drug companies, the White House and lawmakers from states that are home to drug makers fought to derail the proposal. Critics, including the Food and Drug Administration, said it would be difficult to implement and hard to guarantee that imported drugs would be safe.
Aside from, as Howie Klein notes, the weird partisan divides over this, what is absolutely amazing to me is how the sanctity of the deal that the White House cut with the pharmaceutical industry trumped an issue with which Democrats have beat Republicans over the head since 2003, when I remember the Medicare prescription drug bill did not include such a provision and Democrats were howling about it at the time.
The drug amendment had in the past enjoyed broad support from Democrats -- including Obama -- but the White House and Senate leaders bowed to the pharmaceutical industry and joined their effort to derail it. The administration feared that if the amendment had passed, pharmaceutical companies, which earlier this year struck a deal with the White House to limit the economic impact of a healthcare overhaul on their industry, would turn against the broader health legislation.
You could say the same goes for how the White House has treated insurance companies- after the deal they cut with them, there was nary a peep from the White House until October over an industry Pete Stark said said would be "easy to roll" because no one likes them. Again, years of trashing insurance companies from most of the Party, but a reversal from the Administration because of the deal. I wouldn't care as much if I didn't think that move may actually have been detrimental to the entire fight. Health insurance companies worked to gut the bill anyway.
The list of core progressive principles and initiatives that have been sacrificed on the altar of "some bill, any bill" lengthens.