Tag Archive: Max Baucus

Jan 02 2014

The Health Care Problem in the US is a Price Fixing Scam

Passing the racket onto an intermediary and then dumping it on the consumer is part of the scam. Medicare needs full market share so it can bring all the prices down since no one will RICO Act providers, for profit hospitals, and insurance companies passing that cost in addition to 13% extra for administration costs onto you even with the ACA. Forcing you to participate in this scam is what we call Obamacare.  

Jan 26 2013

A Half Billion Dollar Tax Gift to BioTech Company

Unbeknownst to most of the legislators and public, tucked very neatly in section 632 (pdf) of the “fiscal cliff” bill, was provision that gave the world’s largest biotechnology firm, Amgen, a drug maker that sells a variety of medications, a half billion dollar gift that allows the company to evade Medicare cost-cutting controls by delaying price restraints on a class of drugs used by kidney dialysis patients for two years. Meanwhile in December, Amgen had been fined  $762 million in civil and criminal penalties for illegal marketing of one of its other drugs. This pricing break would wipe out two thirds of those fines.

This undercover handout of taxpayer’s dollars during a so-called “fiscal crisis” was reported in depth by The New York Times investigative reporters, Eric Lipton and Kevin Sack, who also revealed the “architects” of this giveaway, Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Democratic Senator Max Baucus, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, and that committee’s ranking Republican, Orrin Hatch.

Amgen has deep financial and political ties to lawmakers like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, and Senators Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, and Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, who hold heavy sway over Medicare payment policy as the leaders of the Finance Committee.

It also has worked hard to build close ties with the Obama administration, with its lobbyists showing up more than a dozen times since 2009 on logs of visits to the White House, although a company official said Saturday that it had not appealed to the administration during the debate over the fiscal legislation.

The measure flies in the face of attempts to curb the enormous expense of dialysis for the Medicare program by reversing incentives to over-prescribe medication. But that didn’t deter the “three amigos” from sneaking in the provision to their generous benefactor:

Amgen’s employees and political action committee have distributed nearly $5 million in contributions to political candidates and committees since 2007, including $67,750 to Mr. Baucus, the Finance Committee chairman, and $59,000 to Mr. Hatch, the committee’s ranking Republican. They gave an additional $73,000 to Mr. McConnell, some of it at a fund-raising event for him that it helped sponsor in December while the debate over the fiscal legislation was under way. More than $141,000 has also gone from Amgen employees to President Obama’s campaigns.

What distinguishes the company’s efforts in Washington is the diversity and intensity of its public policy campaigns. Amgen and its foundation have directed hundreds of thousands of dollars in charitable contributions to influential groups like the Congressional Black Caucus and to lesser-known groups like the Utah Families Foundation, which was founded by Mr. Hatch and brings the senator positive coverage in his state’s news media.

Amgen has sent large donations to Glacier PAC, sponsored by Mr. Baucus in Montana, and OrrinPAC, a political action committee controlled by Mr. Hatch in Utah.

Not surprisingly when the news of this giveaway hit the paper, it enraged a bipartisan group of legislators to repeal this section.

U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) filed legislation this week to eliminate the exemption for a class of drugs, including Amgen’s Sensipar, that are used by kidney dialysis patients. [..]

“Amgen managed to get a $500-million paragraph in the fiscal-cliff bill and virtually no one in Congress was aware of it,” Welch said. “It’s a taxpayer ripoff and comes at a really bad time when we’re trying to control healthcare costs. Amgen should not be allowed to turn Medicare into a profit center.” [..]

Other co-sponsors of the bill seeking repeal include House Republican Richard Hanna of New York and two House Democrats, Jim Cooper of Tennessee and Bruce Braley of Iowa.

Rep. Welch sat down with Bill Moyers on Moyers & Company to discuss Amgen’s “sweetheart deal”



The transcript can be read here

“When there is this back room dealing that comes at enormous expense to taxpayers and enormous benefit to a private, well-connected, for-profit company, we’ve got to call it out,” Welch tells Bill. “Those members of Congress who are concerned about the institution, about our lack of credibility, about the necessity of us doing things that are in the public good as opposed to private gain, we’ve got to call it out.”

Jun 15 2012

Get Ready To Eat Cat Food

Here comes Simpson-Bowles to spare the bloated Pentagon budget and avoid letting the Bush/Obama Tax Cuts expire:

Geithner praises Simpson-Bowles framework as the way forward

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner recently suggested the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction framework is the way forward in terms of balancing the federal budget. [..]

“We need to take advantage of the incentive created by the sequester and these expiring tax cuts to force this town to confront and take on the things that divide us now in these long-term fiscal reforms so we can go ahead and govern,” he said. “This is a place where people spend a lot of time worrying whether Washington can work again and for Washington to say, ‘We’re going to defer,’ I don’t see how that would be helpful to confidence.” [..]

David Dayen at FDL News Desk adds his take on Geithner’s appearance before the Council on Foreign Relation:

The lame duck session has so many fiscal issues expiring at the same time that many view it as an opportunity to put together the long-sought “grand bargain” on deficit reduction. Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson have recently come out of their shells and resumed a high-profile media tour in an effort to get their framework into the discussion for the lame duck session. The Bowles-Simpson plan does include tax increases of hundreds of billions above the Bush tax cut rates, albeit lower than what would occur if the Bush tax cuts were allowed to completely expire.

Because of this, Democrats like Nancy Pelosi have embraced Bowles-Simpson to tease Republicans for their opposition to higher tax rates. But that also puts Democrats on the hook for embracing cuts to the social safety net, including Medicare and Social Security. And on Wednesday, Geithner said that Bowles-Simpson is “the only path to resolution politically [and] growing essentially economically, and I think that’s where it’s going to end up.” He didn’t make the caveats on Social Security or other entitlements.

David also noted that Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), chairperson of the tax writing Senate Finance Committee, would hold hearing in the next few weeks on Bowles-Simpson and Domenici-Rivlin, which combine revenue-raising tax reforms with restraint on entitlement spending. Baucus told The Hill:

“My view is everything’s on the table,” Baucus said. “That’s a psychology which I think is very important to keep people talking, keep people working.”

In his comprehensive article on Geithner’s alliance with JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon and Cat Food Commission co-chair former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-UT), Richard (RJ) Eskow had this to say about the coming of Simpson-Bowles:

Geithner said Simpson-Bowles was the perfect recipe: “tax reforms that raise a modest amount of revenue tied to spending savings across the government that’s still preserving some room to invest in things that matter to how we grow moving forward.” He added, “There’s no plausible way to get there economically or politically without that kind of balanced framework again that marries tax reform with broader spending reforms,”

Geithner is joining leading Democrats on the Hill like Sen. Max Baucus and Rep. Nancy Pelosi in backing the plan. And take careful note of the fact that they’re all using the phrase “tax reform” instead of “tax increases.” They don’t just plan to pay for the wealth and misdeeds of the Dimon crowd with your Social Security and Medicare benefits. They also plan to raise your taxes, not theirs. The Simpson Bowles plan would actually lower the top tax rate for people like Jamie Dimon, while “tax reform” would tax away tax deductions for the middle class’s health insurance, mortgages, and other expenses.

All our elected officials are completely out of touch with what Americans want and need. Yes, indeed, something wicked this way comes.

Dec 29 2011

Montanans Move To Recall Congressional Delegation

Montana residents William Crain, an artist and Stewart Rhodes, an attorney, have launched a petition to recall the state’s congressional delegation, Sen. Max Baucus (D), Sen. Jonathan Tester (D) and Rep. Denny Reberg (R) over their vote for the National Defense Authorization Act that explicitly authorized the indefinite detention of terrorism suspects, including American citizens. Montana is one of nine states that has provisions to recall its elected federal officials. Under the Montana Recall Act all state officials in Montana are subject to recall for physical or mental lack of fitness, incompetence, violation of the oath of office, official misconduct, or conviction of a felony offense. The Montana petitions (there is one for each of the three), states the following “reason for recall”:

   1. “The Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees all U.S citizens: “a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed…”

   2.  The National Defense Authorization Act of 2011 (NDAA 2011) permanently abolishes the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial, “for the duration of hostilities” in the War on Terror, which was defined by President George W. Bush as “task which does not end” to a joint session of Congress on September 20, 2001.

   3.  Those who voted Aye on December 15th, 2011, Bill of Rights Day, for NDAA 2011 have attempted to grant powers which cannot be granted, which violate both the spirit and the letter of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

   4.  The Montana Recall Act stipulates that officials including US senators can only be recalled for physical or mental lack of fitness, incompetence, violation of the oath of office, official misconduct, or conviction of a felony offense.

   5. Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act reads in substance: “Congress affirms that the authority of the President to detain …A person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda…or associated forces…including any person who has…directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces…The disposition of a person…may include…Detention…without trial until the end of the hostilities…”

   6. “Substantial support” of an “associated force” may imply citizens engaged in innocuous, First Amendment activities.  Direct support of such hostilities in aid of enemy forces may be construed as free speech opposition to U.S. government policies, aid to civilians, or acts of civil disobedience.

   7. Section 1021 reads: “Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law.”  But “existing law” may be construed to refer to Padilla v. Rumsfeld in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the government’s claim of authority to hold Americans arrested on American soil indefinitely.

   8. Thus Senators Bacus, Tester, and Congressman Rehberg who voted Aye on December 15th, 2011, Bill of Rights Day, for NDAA 2011 have violated his Oath of Office to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution which guarantees all citizens the right to a jury trial “In all criminal prosecutions.”

According to the press release, Mr. Rhodes stated:

These politicians from both parties betrayed our trust, and violated the oath they took to defend the Constitution. It’s not about the left or right, it’s about our Bill of Rights. Without the Bill of Rights, there is no America. It is the Crown Jewel of our Constitution, and the high-water mark of Western Civilization. [..]

Two time Medal of Honor winner Marine General Smedley Butler once said “There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights.” Time to fight.

It’s not clear if the courts will allow states to recall their federal politicians. It hasn’t gotten very far in the past. In 1967, a recall campaign was waged against Sen Frank Church by Ron Rankin, a Republican county commissioner in Kootenai County in northern Idaho. The U.S. District Court for Idaho ruled that the state’s recall laws did not apply to U.S. senators and that such a recall would violate the U.S. Constitution. Since Idaho’s State Attorney General Alan Shephard decided to accept the court’s ruling, writing that “It must be pointed out that a United States senator is not a state officer but a federal officer whose position is created by Article I, Section I of the United States Constitution. There seems to be no provision for canvassing the votes of a recall election of a United States senator.”

However, it can be argued that since there is no provision provided in the Constitution to recall members of congress, that right is preserved for the states under the 10th Amendment which states:  

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Leaving Mr. Rhodes’ affiliation with The Oath Keepers, a group that has been criticized in the past for adopting extremist views and language, and for their supposed ties to white supremacist and militia groups, the petition drive does have some merits. If successful, it could lead to other states passing laws to provide for the recall of elected federal officers who think that the Constitution is quaint. Good luck to them and perhaps good riddance to Baucus, Tester and Reberg.