Trump vigorously campaigned against the high prices of prescription drugs and promised relief if elected. But it is beginning to look like the only relief will be that offered to the drug industry.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence's political career, for example, has long been supported by pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, which is based in his home state of Indiana. The drugmaker, through its political action committee and employees, is Pence's third-largest all-time political contributor, according to the independent Center for Responsive Politics
Pence is leading the Trump transition.
Other key figures in Trump's circle of advisers have included a former executive at drugmakers Pfizer and Celgene and the chairman of Williams & Jensen, a Washington lobbying firm. According to federal reports, Williams and Jensen's clients in recent years have included 11 of the world's largest drugmakers, including Pfizer, Novartis, AstraZeneca, Merck and Bayer.
And while the Washington Post’s Wonkblog seems to think that the incoming administration will have to pay attention to rising drug prices, they see a silver lining for the industry based on a sentence in Trump’s healthcare platform:
“Reform the Food and Drug Administration, to put greater focus on the need of patients for new and innovative medical products,” his health plan states.
On the face of it, the bullet point may seem almost bland, but efforts to integrate patients' preferences and encourage innovation often result in proposals aimed at speeding up the process for getting new medicines on the market by easing regulations. Critics argue that such efforts can erode standards that are in place to protect patients from drugs that don't work and might even be harmful.
“The language … is industry code for deregulation and reducing of safety standards,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, a consumer watchdog. “Of course, the general deregulatory rhetoric from candidate Trump is a worry for us, but as applied to FDA, it would be very troubling.”
If Trump’s venality was restricted to lining his own pockets by promoting his business properties overseas, and strong-arming foreign diplomats here at home, I think our nation could safely survive his administration. But it is not. His presidency presents the opportunity long awaited by the Republicans to drain the US Treasury of any remaining funds. Ian Millhiser, writing for ThinkProgress, points out a few of the ways that will be done, including the use of taxpayer funds to pay, through tax credits to the private companies, for the cost of building toll roads, whose tolls will then go into the private coffers of the favored companies.
President-elect Donald Trump, however, wants to break this link between risk and reward — that is, he wants to make taxpayers pay for roads that, ultimately, will be owned by private companies. And he’s not alone.
The Republican Medicare plan, in a nutshell, is a plan to charge seniors a lot more for inferior coverage. Republicans want to repeal traditional Medicare, the single-payer system that covers most seniors, and replace it with a voucher that will cover some of the cost of a private plan. Thus, its core proposal will shift money away from a successful public health plan and towards private insurers.
Because private insurers are less efficient than government-run Medicare, however, this will drive up the overall cost of insuring an individual senior by as much as 40 percent.
In fairness, corporate giveaways are hardly the most notable aspect of the Republican Medicaid plan. Ryan’s proposals would cut Medicaid by as much as 50 percent over the course of ten years — and then they would keep going. The result would be something just shy of a wholesale abandonment of America’s commitment to providing health care to the least fortunate.
Once the Democrats return to power, we can fix some of this. It will be hard, but it is fixable, and heaven knows, we have done it time and again, Clinton cleaned up Reagan’s mess, as Obama did Bush’s, and as Jerry Brown cleaned up after Arnold Schwarzenegger.
But, some things we will not be able to fix. Loss of the TPP, though cheered by some, puts China in a dominant trade position in the Pacific. By the time we can repair the damage caused by his walking away from the Paris agreement on climate it may very well be too late. Stacking his administration with fossil fuel profit seekers will prove disastrous for our planet:
Trump has already named the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Myron Ebell, a noted climate science denier, to head his environmental policy transition team. Trump’s favorite for leading the Department of Energy is oil and gas executive Harold Hamm. His other energy advisers include coal magnate Robert Murray, and pro-fossil fuel Rep. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota. [...]
The Keystone XL pipeline is back from the grave. With Trump’s election, TransCanada, the company behind the pipeline that would bring Canadian tar sands oil to the Gulf, is ready to finally get the greenlight after the Obama administration’s refusal. The Dakota Access pipeline is also a sure bet, says Trump’s energy adviser Cramer. The president-elect has promised that “private sector energy infrastructure projects” — namely, pipelines and coal export terminals — will get a rubber stamp. Trump has also promised to open more of the oceans and federal lands to mining and drilling. The president has wide latitude to fulfill those promises, with only public opinion standing in the way.
Our National Parks have been under threat from a handful of determined Republican members of the Anti-Parks Caucus, who actively work to sell off public lands to private parties for exploitation. According to an interview with Dwight Pitcaithley, who retired as the chief historian of the National Park Service after 30 years in 2005, the future may be very grim.
On his campaign website, Trump promises to “streamline the permitting process for all energy projects,” which will likely mean cutting back environmental review, and “encourage the production of [fossil fuel] resources by opening onshore and offshore leasing on federal lands and waters.” Almost immediately, Pitcaithley expects it to become “open season” for oil and gas drilling on public lands. For example, in Alaska, Palin’s home state, the massive Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has been contested for years by people eager to explore it for oil. So far, the drillers have been staved off. “I think that’s up for grabs now,” Pitcaithley says. Indeed, the morning after election day, the Alaska Dispatch News wrote that with both the House and Senate now Republican and Trump in the White House, “pro-development Alaskans could already taste oil.”
But we aren’t just talking about drilling in public lands—right now, says Pitcaithley, the only thing blocking the government from leasing land inside National Parks to drillers are pieces of legislation. To allow drilling in, say, Yosemite, “you would simply change the legislation,” he says. With Congress and the White House both Republican, and a Supreme Court that will likely swing conservative during Trump’s tenure, “I think the chances are good that will happen in certain places.”
Once you drill in a National Park, or mine uranium in one of the seven wonders of the natural world, you can never undo it. No amount of clean up will ever restore the pristine condition of the land.
Instead of becoming a national scandal, cities like Flint will become a blueprint for our new reality which will see the hard-fought for regulations that protect our air and water rolled back, one at a time.
When you elect a preening, self-centered misogynistic-racist-idiot, who takes pride in his ignorance to the presidency, because you desire change, or because you didn’t “like” his opposition, you will get the type of change that ignorance brings.
And that is not a good thing.
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