Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is going after the pharmaceutical industry and business giants for slowing the path of President Joe Biden’s multi-trillion budget plans.
With an infrastructure bill and a $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill tied in knots as leaders try to win over two holdout Democratic centrists, Sanders turned his gaze outside the Capitol, with an op-ed Wednesday on the Fox News website.
He began by touting public polls showing support for individual components of the bill – although other surveys have revealed most Americans still don’t know what’s in it.
‘So, given this overwhelming support, why is it taking so long for to pass this bill? The answer is simple. Follow the money,’ wrote Sanders, who also railed against big drug companies and the fossil fuel industry during his presidential campaigns.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is blaming opposition from the pharmaceutical, health care, and fossil fuel industries for holding up President Biden’s $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill
‘As part of our corrupt, big-money dominated political system, the pharmaceutical industry is now spending hundreds of millions of dollars on lobbying, campaign contributions and television ads to defeat this legislation because it does not want Medicare to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices. In order to increase their profits they want American taxpayers to continue paying, by far, the highest prices in the world for our medicine – sometimes ten times more than the people in other countries,’ he writes.
He also went after health insurance companies he said were ‘strongly opposed’ to the legislation.
Sanders’ op-ed comes as President Joe Biden continues to negotiate with lawmakers on a slimmed-down package amid opposition by two Senate Democrats
Senator Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat from Arizona, has spent weeks in talks with the White House
Sanders blasted drug companies for lobbying against the package
Sanders’ pitch come as House progressives signaled a willingness to come down on the overall cost of the bill
‘The fossil fuel industry is launching a major advertising campaign to defeat this legislation because it seems to be more concerned about protecting their short-term profits than addressing the existential threat of climate change,’ he writes.
Sanders endeavors call attention to the different parts of the bill, even as party leaders look for ways to scale it back.
He mentions expanding Medicare to provide dental and hearing coverage, climate change provisions, authority to negotiate lower prescription drug prices, and a demand ‘that the wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share of taxes,’ along with an extended $300 a month child tax credit.
What Sanders doesn’t do is point the finger at Senate holdouts, including Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, although he does call for party ‘unity.’ Under budget rules, Democrats can muscle the package through both chambers with a simple majority.
‘So, in a tied Senate which has 50 members each of the Democratic and Republican caucuses and a House of Representatives which has a mere three-vote-majority for Democrats, the question of whether we finally deliver consequential legislation to improve the lives of working class families comes down to Democratic unity,’ writes Sanders, who originally backed a larger $6 trillion bill.
‘Will Democrats all stand together to protect the interests of the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor? Will all Democrats stand together to take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry, the health insurance companies, the fossil fuel industry, and wealthy campaign contributors?’ he asks.
‘I certainly hope so,’ he concludes.