Your Money Is Only Whispering

My friend was trying to prove that it is never too late to get interested and involved in politics.  Ralph (name changed) finally got excited about a political candidate and donated money to the campaign.  How much?  Let’s just say it was a lot of money to him.  And when the candidate won, Ralph expected to be recognized, thanked, and mentioned on the Congressional website.  Ralph was now a Player, at least in his own mind.

An individual was allowed to contribute up to $2,800 to a particular Congressional candidate per election in 2020.  Ralph was nowhere near that amount, but even if he was, Congressional campaigns raise and spend millions of dollars.  He contributed less than 1/10 of 1% of what his candidate spent.  I’m sure that Ralph and his donation were momentarily appreciated by whoever processed the check before he/she opened the next envelope.

To put this into perspective, let’s look at what the pharmaceutical industry (Big Pharma) donated to Ohio politicians in 2020.  The Columbus Dispatch and the website Lobbyists for Citizens are the source of this information.  It was noted that Ohio politicians, Republicans and Democrats, received over $250,000 in the 2020 election cycle from Big Pharma.  To no one’s surprise, the top recipient, even though he wasn’t up for reelection, was Rob Portman.  Here are the numbers:

US Senators

  • Rob Portman – $65,000
  • Sherrod Brown – $0

US House

  • Brad Wenstrup – $64,000
  • Bob Latte – $41,000
  • Steve Stivers – $26,000
  • Jim Jordan – $15,000
  • Bill Johnson – $14,500
  • Marcia Fudge – $11,500
  • Joyce Beatty – $7,500
  • Tim Ryan – $4,000
  • Steve Chabot – $2,500
  • Anthony Gonzalez – $2,000
  • Troy Balderson – $1,000
  • Bob Gibbs – $1,000

I showed this to Ralph and had him look at Senator Portman’s website.  Big Pharma isn’t mentioned or thanked.  Portman has found other ways to thank them and earn their favor.  Our political donations are whispering while the real money, the PAC money is shouting.

Prescription Drug prices have spiraled out of control for years.  The creation of Medicare Part D in 2003 was a license to print money.  Every couple of years Washington flirts with the concept of regaining control.  Success is hardly guaranteed.

A quick bit of history:  Medicare Part D specifically prohibits the government (the Secretary of Health and Human Services) from negotiating with the drug manufacturers over price.  This is called the “noninterference clause”.  My clients are still surprised by this.  What is not surprising is that the Congressman who co-authored the legislation, Billy Tauzin (R-La) was also negotiating with Big Pharma to become their top lobbyist at a salary of $2 million per year.  He had that job from 2004 through 2010.  We continue to be impacted by his efforts to this very day.

Congress, or at least some members of Congress, would like to eliminate the noninterference clause.  As you can imagine, Big Pharma is not happy.  They have two tools (weapons) at their disposal, money and emotion.  We know that the money is flowing to elected officials.  Emotion and fear are on full view on our TV screens.  By now you have been introduced to Sue from Ohio, an ad that the Washington Post rated 3 Pinocchios.  There will be more Sue’s and more misleading BS.

Will we, the consumers, win this time or will Big Pharma win again?  It is way too early to tell.  There is legislation pending that may pass as currently written, be watered down to irrelevance, or just defeated by filibuster in the Senate.  You can contact your Congressman and/or Senator. But it is important to remember that you may donate what seems to you a lot of money, but it is, in truth, but a whisper.


Picture – Take One Daily – David L Cunix

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