From the AFL-CIO blog:
Republican Senate leaders today blocked a bill that would have allowed Medicare to negotiate with the drug giants for lower prices. In doing so, they came down on the side of big pharmaceutical companies that make billions in profits on which America’s seniors rely—and against consumers who depend upon the Medicare program for affordable medication.That's small comfort since President Bush said he'd veto the drug negotiation bill if it made it to his desk anyhow.
The 55-42 vote fell five votes short of the 60 needed to shut off Senate floor debate and move the bill to a vote on passage. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) voted to end debate, but switched his vote to maintain the right to bring the bill up again.
What hypocrites. Republicans worry about saving their corporate cronies and high-income friends billions of tax dollars, but they won't vote to save senior citizens a few lousy dollars on medication. I'm sure this explains part of it:
The pharmaceutical industry has joined the Bush White House in vigorously opposing lower Medicare prices through negotiations. After the House passed the bill, drug companies launched a massive lobbying and PR campaign aimed at the Senate. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on TV spots and newspaper ads to foment against the bill, and its lobbyists swarmed the Capitol as the Senate vote neared.Big Pharma could pass along price reductions to seniors. The industry is in good health and major pharmaceutical companies are reporting first quarter earnings that beat expectations.
And they certainly have plenty of money to lavish on CEO's. According to the AFL-CIO Executive PayWatch:
The head of Wyeth took home $32.8 million in 2006. A few others: Abbott Laboratories, $26.9 million; Pfizer Inc., $19.4 million; and Baxter, $13.5 million.Edward Coyle, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, said this prior to the vote yesterday:
This is the moment of truth for senators and for President Bush: Do they stand with retirees struggling to afford their drugs, or do they stand with the big drug companies who want to keep fleecing American seniors?Well, we know where they stand now. And they call themselves the values party?