What’s the Cost of Keeping Corrupt Pharma-Stooge Senators Like Patty Murray in Office?

By Gaius Publius, a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius, Tumblr and Facebook. GP article archive  here. Originally published at DownWithTyranny

Democrats (!) who voted with Big Pharma and against prescription drug importation, along with “the amount they have taken from drug companies since being elected to federal office” (details here). How much longer should any of these “enemies of the people” be in office? Or do they get at pass because they’re our “enemies of the people”?

The answer to the headline question is — across all industries and monopoly protection schemes regulated and allowed by Congress, easily more than $100 billion per year. That’s the dollar price of keeping “fake progressives” like Cory Booker and Patty Murray well-fed and happy in Washington, D.C. Over $100 billion. Per year.

Can Progressives Afford to Protect and Defend “Fake Progressive” Senators?

Let’s look at the cost to the American people of supporting “fake progressives” like those listed above by looking at just one industry, one monopoly protection scheme — prescription drugs prices.

Readers of DWT recently learned that:

Cory Booker helped the Republican predators kill his drug reimportation bill, a bill killed by Cory and a dozen other Democrats putting their donors before their constituents. Matt Taibbi has been on fire lately. His newest Rolling Stone essay, Republicans and Democrats Continue to Block Drug Reimportation— After Publicly Endorsing It, makes the not so subtle point that “the one true bipartisan instinct in Washington is caving to rich industries.”

The piece accurately calls Booker a “fake liberal.” That label also applies to several more on the list above. Patty Murray, for example, is a “fake liberal.” So is Maria Cantwell. Both were instrumental, for example, in getting Fast Track, the needed precursor to the horrible TPP trade deal, passed in the Senate.

The question has to be asked. At what price do progressives defend corrupt senators like this and protect their Senate positions, simply because they are our corrupt senators— corrupt Democratic senators? At what point do progressives say No to people like these?

As Matt Taibbi points out in the referenced article (all emphasis mine):

In 2015, for instance, the 20 largest drug companies made a collective $124 billion in profits.

All the industry needs to protect those sums is the continued cooperation of Congress.

So naturally it spends money– not a lot by industry standards, but a ton by the standards of the ludicrously cheap dates we call federal politicians— to make sure they always have just enough dependable people in office to block change.

Most of that $124 billion — profit, mind you; not revenue — came out of our pockets. Taibbi again:

The entire pharmaceutical industry is floated by a protectionist racket. Drugs that are in fact very cheap to make are kept artificially expensive– we have drugs that cost $1,000 a pill here in America that sell for $4 in India, for instance.

This is the price you pay … per year … to keep Patty Murray and her kind in office. Do you feel you’re getting a fair return for your own investment in her career?

The ROI on Corruption — Are Politicians Like Patty Murray “Ridiculously Cheap Dates”?

Let’s look at what Big Pharma gets from us in return for our keeping Patty Murray and her like in office. Taibbi’s characterization of the people named in the graphic at the top was “the ludicrously cheap dates we call federal politicians.”

Cheap dates indeed. The top dollar figure in the graphic above is “fake progressive” Patty Murray’s $900,000. The aggregate number in the graphic is about $5-6 million. That’s not even a per-year bribe to these people, but a “for the life of their time in federal office” bribe.

To the industry, these people are for sale for pennies on the dollar, or more accurately mils on the dollar, plastic coins worth less than a penny.

Consider: The return on industry lobbying — let’s round up and call it $10 million across several Senate terms — is $124 billion in protected profit per year. Looking at the drug price mark-up in the Taibbi article — from $4 to $1000 — gives a profit increase of 250 times the original (and still profitable) $4 price in India. Let’s lower that increase, since I’m sure Taibbi picked an extreme example. Let’s say that, on average, the protected U.S. profit is “just” a 100-times increase over what’s profitable overseas.

If this is true, it’s very safe to say that of that $124 billion in profit, at least $100 billion is bought by lobbying Congress for price protection.

So what’s the ROI to the drug companies on its $10 million in bribes (sorry, entirely legal campaign contributions)? If it’s $100 billion … again, per year … the ROI on campaign contributions is at least $10,000 in profit for each $1 spent to protect it, or more than 10,000 to 1.

If I’m off by a factor of 10, the ROI is … 1,000 to 1.

Very cheap dates indeed. Corrupt Senators like Patty Murray need a better agent, or at least a union. After all, real agents get 10 percent. Acting as their own agents, politicians like Murray can’t manage to squeeze one percent out of one of the most profitable industries in the world.

And her failure to extract more feathers for her nest is worse when you consider that Congress is the sole source for price protection at the national level. Corrupt Senate votes like Murray’s can’t be acquired anywhere else in the country.

Corrupt Democrats Keep Drug Prices High in Connecticut

Now comes David Sirota to tell a similar story (emphasis mine):

Why Are Drug Prices Going Up? Democratic Power Players Help Pharmaceutical Industry In Connecticut Battle

Wide majorities of voters want public officials to reduce American medicine prices, which are the highest in the worldand have become a key driver of skyrocketing healthcare costs. And yet as politicians including Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have continued to call for a crackdown, corporate power players have successfully blocked even minimal reforms — with the help, at times, of industry-connected Democrats, whose party portrays itself as a consumer-defending critic of the healthcare industry.

As Congress holds more hearings on the issue, the fight over drug prices has moved to [state] legislatures — and an intense debate in Connecticut most starkly illuminates the battle lines. There, the House, the governorship and all constitutional offices are controlled by a Democratic Party that has long criticized the pharmaceutical industry for its pricing practices. Connecticut, though, also has America’s highest number of insurance jobs per capita, and a cadre of powerful public officials with financial and familial ties to the insurance industry — a situation that adds to the influence the industry already wields through its campaign cash and lobbyists.

The situation:

Fresh off a presidential campaign that saw both parties’ candidates promising to make prescription medicine more affordable, Connecticut lawmakers in January introduced legislation to bring more transparency to drug prices. The bill, which mirrors similar initiatives in other states, also aims to stop insurance companies from effectively forcing their policyholders to pay more for medicine than it actually costs — a lucrative scheme that critics say allows insurers and their affiliated pharmaceutical benefit managers to pocket the difference.

Despite the pharmaceutical industry’s opposition, the Connecticut legislation initially seemed headed for approval: It was sponsored by the Senate Democratic and Republican leaders and was backed by high-profile officials like the Democratic state comptroller.

Who could make this go wrong? Industry-connected Democrats:

But a few weeks ago, bill proponents say, Connecticut’s insurance commissioner Katharine Wade pressed for changes that would weaken the penalties in the legislation and leave enforcement of its provisions to the healthcare industry itself.

Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy, who appointed Wade, came to her defense. “We must take much greater care in considering the impact our actions have on Connecticut insurers,” he said. House Majority Leader Matt Ritter, a Democrat, suggestedlawmakers were not sufficiently listening to insurers — and then sponsored an amendment to implement Wade’s proposals. He also backed an amendment to strip out a separate provision in the bill designed to compel insurers to more explicitly disclose all their fees to policyholders.

It goes on from there. Please read Sirota’s good work for the rest. Among the revelations, you’ll find a web of interconnected, industry-connected relationship among the Democrats that can only be described as corrupt, considering the outcomes.

For example, “As Wade’s department regulates Cigna and its PBM, her husband is an in-house Cigna attorney and her father-in-law, James Wade, is a partner in a law firm working for the PBM, OptumRX, named as a defendant in the Connecticut price-gouging suit. That same law firm lobbies for Cigna and for the health insurance industry’s trade association in the state.”

Also, that Malloy “is the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, which raised more than $6 million from donors in the health insurance and drug industries during the 2016 election cycle,” and much much more.

Malloy is good on many issues (read about him here), but he works for people who want to rob you blind when you most need help — when you’re sick and need medicine.

“Do You Want Nice Things, or Do You Want Democrats?”

That’s a trick question. You can have Democrats or Republicans, but you can’t get nice things like reasonably priced prescription drugs from either of them.

Until the Democratic Party is forced to kick corrupt politicians like “fake progressive” Patty Murray and industry lackey Dannel Malloy (and dozens and dozens more) to the curb, you can’t have most nice things — Medicare for All, reasonable prescription drug prices, student debt relief, fair internet and telecom prices, all the rest — with or without the Democrats.

The choices are these: Corrupt, political-shipwreck-causing Republicans who will rob you blind — or corrupt, politically competent Democrats … who will rob you blind.

Did someone say “brand new Congress”? The next chance is 2018.

In the meantime, it’s up to you to decide if control of the Senate is important enough to keep the Senators listed above well-fed and free to swan about in D.C. like they own the place. They may indeed own the place, but they’re buying it with your money — and in the case of sky-high drug prices, with many of your lives as well.

(“Oh, it’s you, Senator. Let me take you to your table — the best, of course, as you requested. Allow me to take your coat. Three people died in your state last week to finance how I’m greeting you now. Would you like to see the wine list, or should I decant your usual?”)

Of the names listed at the top, only five are not up for re-election in 2018 — Bennet, Booker, Coons, Murray (unfortunately), and Warner. All the rest, including “fake progressive” Maria Cantwell, are vulnerable. If you live in one of the states they represent, their future is in your hands.

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  1. Hayek's Heelbiter

    Please, stop calling our legislators “whores”.

    At these prices, they are “call girls.”

      1. MoiAussie

        Agreed. For many sex workers it’s need rather than greed, unlike the legislators.

        But I’m struggling to find a better epiphet for people whose avarice means they can always be bought. Do you know of any?

        1. ambrit

          I’ll steal a phrase from Terry Pratchett and call those “deplorables”: Legislators of negotiable allegiance. Pratchett aficionados will get the dual reference.

        2. PlutoniumKun

          In Ireland the phrase for a certain type of politician is ‘cute hoors‘, which is a phrase I’d love to hear more widely used. Unfortunately, in Ireland its used almost affectionately, which it most certainly should not be. Its even the name of a pretty decent beer now.

        3. pat

          The word is snollygoster. It’s old fashioned but way past due for a comeback. From yourdictionary dot com- Snollygoster: snol·ly·gos·ter. noun. Slang. One, especially a politician, who is guided by personal advantage rather than by consistent, respectable principles. Works for me!

  2. The Rev Kev

    Not trying to be snarky here but what would happen if a GoFundMe page was set up for each politician to match what the pharmaceutical industry was giving them providing that they vote for transparency in drug prices.
    In addition, each contributor would promise to send their vote to those politicians that signed up for this idea. The numbers alone could be very attractive. Or is it a case of them being ‘honest politicians’ in that once they are bought, they stay bought?

    1. ambrit

      Considering the lack of scruples shown by the “Representatives,” (of whom exactly, I can’t say,) “they” would pocket both revenue streams and go on about their monkey business.

    2. HopeLB

      Wouldn’t the crowdfunders also have to supply fancy junkets/fetes/lucrative job opportunities for relatives or revolving door ones for the electitutes once they are out of office? Worth a try just for the shaming value.

      Speaking of shaming value, these webs of interconnected venality should be displayed “information is Beautiful” style (infographically) on some crowdfunded searchable blog.
      This elucidating, clear eyed views of obvious corruption could be printed out and handed out in front of their offices.

    3. oh

      Jail is the place for these parasites. Need a citizens’ con operation to catch these worms.

  3. makedoanmend

    If I may be so bold and at the risk of sounding sycophantic, this is one magnificent article/post.

    Informative and information that can be used with actionable options.

  4. jackiebass

    These people are from the Clinton , Obama wing of the party. They used to run as moderate republicans. As the republican party moved right they joined the democrat party. These Wall Street democrats aren’t really democrats in the way I think of what a democrat is.They are really what used to be called moderate republicans. I’m 75 years old and have observed what has happened to the democrat party. Because todays democrat party is more interested in serving their Wall Street masters, they have abandoned their traditional base.They made a bad assumption in thinking they could get away with this kind of behavior forever. The last election is evidence that traditional democrat voters were tired of being thrown under the bus. On the other hand republicans seem to be more loyal to the party even though the republican party policy is not in their best interest. As a voter I refuse to vote for these democrats or any republican. That means I have to, as a protest, vote for a third party candidate. I never vote for Schumer when he is up for reelection. It to me is interesting to observe Schumer now. He pretends to be progressive but looks like he is struggling to keep up the fake appearance. The only way the democrat party will win elections is if they purge these fake democrats from the party and return to serving their traditional base. If they don’t they will continue to lose elections. I believe the republican party has smarter leadership and that is why they win elections even though there are fewer of them. They were well prepared before the last census by concentrating on state and local elections. This allowed them to determine election districts to favor them. That’s why they control the house.

    1. David Carl Grimes

      I think the Bernie faction will have to break away from the Democrats and form an entirely new party. I don’t think a purge is likely. If it does, it will take a long time. At least another election cycle. Another point is that the average voter is a low-information voter and has probably not delved into the nitty-gritty of the issues like what is being done here in NC. So they don’t know exactly how they are getting screwed by the people that they elected to represent them. They are starting to get a glimpse of it but it remains just that – a glimpse.

      Guys like Obama/Clinton and even Booker are still held in high regard by a lot of Democratic voters. Trump’s victory really shattered their world view and induced a lot of personal anguish. All they want to do is vent and rage against Trump. They don’t want to hear anything else and will accept no other opinions except their own. They only hear what they want to hear. So when I forward articles like this to them, I get shut down and even booted out.

      1. Vatch

        It’s very, very difficult to form a viable new political party. If it were easy, the Greens would have done it years ago (as would the Libertarians). For the near future, our only reasonable hope lies with the reform wing of the Democratic party. I hope that residents of Washington State, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Delaware, and Montana will pay close attention to their Democratic primaries in 2018. Be sure your friends know about what’s happening.

        Correction: the article says that Senator Tom Carper is from New Jersey. He’s not; he’s from Delaware.

        1. Jess

          You can’t support the premise that it’s difficult to form a viable new political party if you cite the Green Party as an example. What a waste of scarce planetary resources. Except for a few tiny local chapters here and there the Greens do not act like, or function as, a political party. It’s a smug, feel-good plaything for dilettantes. I’m what the pros call a “high propensity voter”, one who votes in all elections even small local ones. Yet I have never, ever, EVER, received a single campaign mailer from a Green party candidate. I have never received a single phone call (live or robo) from a Green candidate or someone volunteering for one. Never had a knock on the door from someone canvassing for a Green candidate.

          I can hear the complaints now. “But it takes money”. Yeah, a little. How do I know? Because I’ve spend the past sixteen years involved with a local slow-growth movement fighting entrenched developer interests which previously ruled our town like a fiefdom. Recently we elected our candidates to two of the three council seats up for grabs, also tossed out the incumbent mayor, and passed yet another local zoning initiative by a 57-42 margin. This was our firth successful ballot measure. We’ve also filed three lawsuits, one of which we won and the latest is leaning strongly in our favor after the California Coastal Commission recently ruled that we had raised “substantial issues” regarding the latest beachfront development boondoggle.

          How did we accomplish all this? By having dedicated volunteers who were willing to stand in front of stores collecting petition signatures, and go door-to-door or phone bank for candidates (who also walked the city themselves). We raised money for the lawsuits, to print and mail flyers, run ads in the local papers, and to have booths at local street fairs, carnivals, and farmer’s markets. The last ballot measure, the opposition spent $525K; we spent $22,000. The measure before that the developer spent $1.25 mil; we spent $13K and won 55-45. And the bulk of our contributions came in small amounts, from $10 or $20 to a couple of hundred. (A couple of our more affluent campaign leaders gave a few thousand here and there, and for the latest lawsuit one donor matched everyone else’s contributions up to $25K.)

          But work like this is hard and it’s not glamorous. And the dilettantes in Green Party leadership wouldn’t be caught dead doing it. Just ask yourself: What did Jill Stein do between 2012 and 2016 to build the party infrastructure? Getting interviewed by Amy Goodman doesn’t build a party.

          1. David Carl Grimes

            The greens only show up every four years and seem to have little or no local presence. I really wish Bernie had torn through Obama’s facade like what Trump did to Jeb Bush. He nearly tainted Hillary as a tool of Wall Street but not enough to disqualify her from the nomination. He was too much of a gentleman and held back. Trump didn’t pull any punches and won the Presidency.

          2. Vatch

            But work like this is hard

            Exactly. You confirm my point. I also cited the Libertarians as an example, and I could have cited other political parties which have even less success than the Libertarians and the Greens. The Greens do have some local officeholders, and despite that, they have had no success on the national scale:


            If you want change in the near future, become active in the upcoming Democratic primaries. If you want change in 2028, 2032, or later, start a new party.

            By the way, I respect your efforts and your success. Keep up the good work.

      2. oh

        There’s so much propaganda put out to fool these low information voters. Instead of questioning Obama and his ilk for not delivering on their promises, these ‘bots are busy apologizing for the scum. I heard one the other day “the Republicans wouldn’t let him (Obama) push for people’s programs because he’s black”. Yeah, right. The snake oil salesman has ridden out of town and is busy counting his money. Another fake book, another speech for a payoff and these fools don’t want to see the truth that’s staring them in the face.

      3. Carla

        David Carl Grimes: “Guys like Obama/Clinton and even Booker are still held in high regard by a lot of Democratic voters. Trump’s victory really shattered their world view and induced a lot of personal anguish. All they want to do is vent and rage against Trump. They don’t want to hear anything else and will accept no other opinions except their own.”

        Exactly my experience.

        1. David Carl Grimes

          Carla, do you find yourself losing friends? Do your friends now give you strange looks? It’s amazing how people say they are open minded when they argue against Republicans but close their eyes to the preponderance of evidence that Sacred cows like Obama and Clinton do not exactly have the interests of the common people at heart. Prime example: they tend to fly into a rage when I point out that Bush II had a better track record of prosecuting financial fraud than Obama.

    2. clarky90

      The NZ Labour Party (The Party of Prime Minister, Micky Savage)
      was infiltrated and taken over by neocon/lib sleeper cells back in the 1980s. Our good-hearted, socialist Labour Party became a Neocon/lib hothouse. They sold The Commons to the insiders (banker types). Bastards!

      NC readers seemed utterly confused as to what has happened to the “decent” Democratic Party that they remember (JFK, etc). The healthy old Dem Party has been breached and taken over by an insatiably hungry clique. It “looks like” the Democratic Party. It still has the same name, but…….It is something else!

      It is a zombie thing. Your best friend, that you have known since first grade, suddenly appears with an empty stare. They are drooling and have blood all over the ax they are gripping. They stagger towards you moaning “Must eat flesh, must eat flesh….(Or Must raise drug prices…” Their bodies have been taken over by the Zombie Virus!!! Run!

      This actually happens in real life too.

      “The rats would not shy away from areas where cats live and would also be less able to escape should a cat try to prey on them. The primary mechanisms of T. gondii–induced behavioral changes in rodents is now known to occur through epigenetic remodeling in neurons which govern the associated behaviors……to greatly decrease predator aversion…..”

      So, take The Dem Party back, and turn it into a “healthy” body again… or Avoid it like the Plague!

  5. OIFVet

    Patty Murray also joined Republicans in attempting to cut VA funding and veteran benefits during the summer of Barry’s push for his Grand Bargain. She justified it by saying that we as a population are very familiar with the concept of “sacrifices” for the “common good.” I can imagine how much the drugs I needed recently would have cost me had these cuts taken place.

    1. polecat

      The former ‘teacher in tennis shoes’ should be made to trudge barefoot for a change !

    2. neo-realist

      It’s disappointing that such a vote on VA funding did not get more traction in the Seattle area. But as for this region, if you are a legislator that will bend over backwards to give Aerospace and IT the tax breaks and trade deals that they want, you are just fine with the WA State power centers, and most of its citizens as long as the economy is doing well.

      Other than support for Sanders in the primary, and a socialist on the Seattle City Council, there has been no serious opposition to the neo-liberals democrats in the Senate or the House around here.

      1. perpetualWAR

        Seattle is pseudo-liberal. They drive Priuses (cuz enviro!) Yet at the same time drive up to their remodeled old “craftsman” house that they have added an additional story to. After all, you cannot live in 2000 sf house, it’s just not possible. So, you have pseudo-liberals installing granite (cuz the Jones’) and solar panels. It really makes no sense.

        I can’t wait to leave this Godforsaken city. They have ruined my fair city into an unrecognizable neoliberal pseudo-liberal nightmare.

  6. notabanker

    Any legitimate problems with Brand New Congress? I’m liking a few of the candidates they are putting forth, but it’s all on the surface.

  7. glib

    In the US, we not only conjure money out of thin air. We conjure diseases out of thin air too. The cost of each year of increased life expectancy is 2-3 times that of other advanced economies. Murray and Co. are part of the system that keeps the use of unneeded, side-effects-rich drugs high. My doctor is, too.

    1. Carla

      They want to run 400 people in 2018, and so far they’ve got 7 ?

      What a joke.

      ‘Dem Dems is dead. Now are we gonna waste time continuing the wake and the funeral ad nauseum, do we actually have to lower the coffin into the ground, shovel the dirt on, and wait for the grass to grow — or are we gonna start something new?

        1. notabanker

          Gotta start somewhere. replacing the Oueens district $3m slush fund for a primary unopposed Caucus leader would be a good start, imho.

        2. Carla

          I’m working on Move to Amend, John — see my reply to Patrick below. And thanks for asking ;-)

  8. Crazy Horse

    Like so many unsolvable problems there is a simple solution.

    1- Pay elected federal officials very well while they are in office.
    2- Mandatory lifetime imprisonment for taking bribes or any form of payment from lobbyists.
    3- Provide a lifetime modest retirement once they leave office regardless of whether they serve for 2 years or 20. The median national income is a good reference point.
    4- Once a politician retires they should be prohibited for life from working for any corporation or organization with more than 10 employees or receiving any salary in excess of three times the national median.

    All it would take to implement a reform like this to overthrow and imprison the entire ruling class whose wealth depends upon their ability to buy any politician for a mere million $ or so in the present “democracy.”

    1. witters

      All of them, except the first.

      Set their pay once-off to the median wage, then index this initial setting to the modal wage. That way we might get what the Ancients would recognise as democracy – for it, as Aristotle said, involves “a bias towards the poor”.

      1. clarky90

        I agree with you Witters. When I first came to NZ, it was governed by “enthusiasts”. These were public minded people. The type who joined/formed organizations and clubs. People who volunteered for PTA committees, were involved with the Play-Centre Movement. The people who were sports coaches on their days off. Enthusiasts acted out of their passions and obsessions. They are the best sort of, and most interesting people that I have encountered in my life. (except for the money and power enthusiasts).

        All people need “enough” money to live happily. People who need “more than enough” or worse, “way way more than enough” to live happily, are mentally ill. They are wasting their precious time on this Earth. They should be isolated from the rest of us. For God’s Sake, never let them get their sweaty hands on the Ship of State!

  9. Patrick Morrison

    From Casablanca: ‘I don’t mind a parasite. I object to a cut-rate one.’ How do we get our representatives to have enough self-respect to at least sell out for real money instead of chump change? Or, can we arrange things so our representatives are funded by the people who vote for them? Is there a way to enforce only public campaign financing?

    1. Carla

      Maybe if we pass a constitutional amendment stating that only human beings are entitled to constitutional rights, and money is not speech, but until then, the Supreme Court will continue to hold that the constitutional “rights” of corporations and rich people more important than, uhm, having a democracy.

      So far, HJR-48 has 42 co-sponsors in the House.

      The non-partisan organization that has put HJR-48 forward, Move to Amend, had staff in D.C. this past week lobbying to get companion legislation introduced in the Senate.

      So, Patrick, you can see if your Congress Critter is a co-sponsor of HJR-48, and you can contact your U.S. Senators to tell them that you want them to introduce a companion bill in their chamber.

      1. Vatch

        Good suggestion, Carla. There’s only one Republican co-sponsor of H.J.R.48, Walter Jones of North Carolina — I guess that’s better than zero! Interestingly, he is also one of the two Republican co-sponsors of Marcy Kaptur’s H.R.790 – The Return to Prudent Banking Act of 2017, which is basically a bill to restore the Glass Steagall separation of banking functions.

        1. Carla

          Yes, and Walter Jones is featured in this very good piece from today’s links:

          Re: only one Republican co-sponsor — yeah, I certainly know. But on the bright side, it was our goal for 2017 to get to 35 co-sponsors in the House, and we’re already at 42 with more than 6 months of the year to go!

          (I think we stood at about 25 in the 114th Congress. When HJR-48 was re-introduced in the 115th Congress, all of those eventually re-upped, and we’ve gotten 17 more.)

  10. Josh in WA

    If only their futures were in our hands, our ballots aren’t counted by hand which is how Murray got re-installed, no real progressives move past the primary. I will vote against Cantwell but until we have real elections it’s little more than a way to say “I’m paying attention and see you trying to fuck me over”. They’re trying to tax the shit out of e-cigarettes here too so tobacco and Chantrix can compete with them at cost while improving nothing.

  11. Jesper

    I’m now working for a pharmaceutical company. The ‘official’ internal fear now is that tax-avoidance might possibly eventually sometime far away in the future be dealt with. There is (to my knowledge) not any fear of IP laws being changed nor any fear of stronger collective bargaining in the US or anywhere else to get lower prices. If either of those two were to happen then profitability would decrease (maybe even plummet) but again the ‘risk’ of that happening is either so small that it is not worth mentioning or so great that it cannot be discussed as then they might happen. ‘Talk of the d€vil & he/she might just appear’….

  12. John

    The campaign money is just a notation for their future payday…sorta like CEO stock options….my preferred insult is “money slut” …with the injunction that is indicated by the list that 10 of the 13 money sluts are male and should therefore be gender neutral. It’s a term for those who will do anything to acquire a dollar. Although I guess neoliberal could suffice for that.

  13. TheCatSaid

    To Crazyhorse’s proposals should be added items that would close down the multitude of illegal enterprises that are enabled by having officials–election and appointed–who are either corrupted, blackmailed or extorted to provided the “correct” votes demanded by those who are holding the evidence of their corruption.

    Changing election financing and stopping the revolving door are crucial, but stopping the blackmail, extortion and Brownstoning is also crucial. This means a major housecleaning of the intelligence agencies among others.

  14. Edward

    Virginia’s senator is Mark Warner.

    I think there is another cost which needs to be added to cost of bribing senators; that is the cost to buy the press. This keeps the public from getting too agitated.

  15. Edward

    Sadly, the story told here is not an isolated one. The trillion dollar S & L scandal can be blamed on a $130,000 bribe to the chairman of the banking committee, Rostenkowski, for example. The examples are many. I hope other countries are taking notes about what not to do. The U.S. is an object lesson in the dangers of capitalism.

  16. John

    Hasn’t Elizabeth Warren gotten a lot of money from big pharma over the years? Or am I getting mixed up?

  17. Heliopause

    Washington stater here. There is virtually no possibility of Murray or Cantwell ever losing an election under the current status quo.

  18. PhilM

    What a thread. Denial is so strong in people! They think it is “hope.” Read the comments about changing the names on the “representatives'” doors; then about changing the rules that get the members elected; then about getting rid of the elite groups people who in fact set the agendas for those people after they are “elected”; then, most laughably, of how a different, or new, party of right-thinking people is somehow going to drain the swamp.

    Have a look at New Hampshire’s State House. Imagine trying to bribe so many people, none of whom are professional politicians. Taxes are fairly low, and the number of representatives very high. Thus there is no money to be made; power is widely divided and impossible to monopolize, or even corral, so that corruption is very small-scale. There is very little corruption in NH. There is also very little effective government. And that is fine, except the small roads kind of suck.

    That is the model that approximates a situation in which representative government may still mean something. Not much, but something.

    Until those numbers are made to apply at a national level, everything in this thread is the equivalent of the cheering and booing of the crowd at a football game: it means nothing, and in fact only promotes the system in which the money and power come from the advertisers and the networks.

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