Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Fiscal Cliff Facts: Three US Senators Gave $500,000,000 Loophole to Amegen Pharmaceutical

Senators McConnell (R-KY), Baucus (D-MT), and Hatch (R-UT), Bi-partisan Senate "perpetrators," used the fiscal cliff at the end of 2012 to give a $500,000,000 break to Amgen, a pharmaceutical company from Thousand Oaks, CA, who just pleaded guilty to fraud. 

Term "despicable" describes these three Senators who should resign immediately from the Senate. Nothing will happen though since this has become a way of life for Senators and some members of the House where anything goes in order to get donations. We know what is being paid openly, but how much do these dishonest members of Congress receive that never sees the light of day?  The lack of honesty and integrity is permeating the halls and offices of the Capitol today as the wealthy are protected by their puppets in the Senate and House.

Bill Moyers did an excellent job of covering this investigative story from The New York Times along with his interview with Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT) below.  Moyers gives an insight into those members of Congress who are as disgusted as a lot of us with what we are all seeing today by some members of Congress who are on the take in exchange for getting money for their wealthy donors.

On Twitter last night it was announced both the right and left in Kentucky are out to oust Minority Leader McConnell from the Senate.  They are going to work together to make it happen.  Now that is called a bi-partisan effort and shows how corrupt McConnell has become when both sides can agree.  Are the Koch Brothers going to rush in with big bucks to try and save his re-election campaign where he already has over $7M?  Would bet that most of the $7M donated to McConnell came from wealthy donors who through their lobbyists want payback.

The more you read about this $500 million of our tax dollars going to Amgen, the madder you get.  This part jumped out that we have three US Senators giving loopholes to a company, Amgen, who was just convicted of fraud and had to pay over a $700M fine:
So the trail winds deeper into the sordid swamp beneath that great Capitol dome, a sinkhole where shame has all but disappeared. As reporters Lipton and Sack remind us, just weeks before this backroom betrayal of the public interest by elected officials and the mercenaries they have mentored, Amgen pleaded guilty to fraud. Look it up: fraud means trickery, cheating and duplicity. Amgen agreed to pay $762 million in criminal and civil penalties; the company had been caught illegally marketing another one of its drugs. 
The fact that their puppet master had been the subject of fines and a massive federal investigation mattered not to its servile pawns in the Senate, where pomp and circumstance are but masks for the brute power of money.
From Bill Moyers site comes the details (excerpted) of the Amgen rip off of the American taxpayer:
Foul Play in the Senate 
January 25, 2013
by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship 
The inauguration of a president is one of those spectacles of democracy that can make us remember we’re part of something big and enduring.... 
... Just a couple of days before the inaugural festivities, The New York Times published some superb investigative reporting by the team of Eric Lipton and Kevin Sack, and their revelations were hard to forget, even at a time of celebration. The story told us of a pharmaceutical giant called Amgen and three senators so close to it they might be entries on its balance sheet: 
Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Democratic Senator Max Baucus, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, and that powerful committee’s ranking Republican, Orrin Hatch. A trio of perpetrators who treat the United States Treasury as if it were a cash-and-carry annex of corporate America. 
The Times story described how Amgen got a huge hidden gift from unnamed members of Congress and their staffers. They slipped an eleventh hour loophole into the New Year’s Eve deal that kept the government from going over the fiscal cliff. When the sun rose in the morning, there it was, a richly embroidered loophole for Amgen that will cost taxpayers a cool half a billion dollars.

Amgen is the world’s largest biotechnology firm, a drug maker that sells a variety of medications. The little clause secretly sneaked into the fiscal cliff bill gives the company two more years of relief from Medicare cost controls for certain drugs used by patients who are on kidney dialysis, including a pill called Sensipar, manufactured by Amgen. 
The provision didn’t mention Amgen by name, but according to reporters Lipton and Sack, the news that it had been tucked into the fiscal cliff deal “was so welcome, that the company’s chief executive quickly relayed it to investment analysts.” Tipping them off, it would seem, to a jackpot in the making. 
Amgen has 74 lobbyists on its team in Washington and lobbied hard for that loophole, currying favor with friends at the White House and on Capitol Hill. The Times reporters traced its “deep financial and political ties” to Baucus, McConnell and Hatch, “who hold heavy sway over Medicare payment policy.” 
All three have received hefty campaign donations from the company whose bottom line mysteriously just got padded at taxpayer expense. Since 2007, Amgen employees and its political action committee have contributed nearly $68,000 to Senator Baucus, $73,000 to Senator McConnell’s campaigns, and $59,000 to Senator Hatch. 
And lo and behold, among those 74 Amgen lobbyists are the former chief of staff to Senator Baucus and the former chief of staff to Senator McConnell. You get the picture: Two guys nurtured at public expense, paid as public servants, disappear through the gold-plated revolving door of Congress and presto, return as money changers in the temple of crony capitalism. 
Inside to welcome them is a current top aide to Senator Hatch, one who helped weave this lucrative loophole. He used to work as a health policy analyst for — you guessed it — Amgen.
Peter Welch, Vermont’s Democratic congressman, has just introduced bipartisan legislation to repeal the half billion-dollar giveaway to Amgen [see the video clip below]. Its co-sponsors include Republican Richard Hanna of New York and Democrats Jim Cooper of Tennessee and Bruce Braley of Iowa.

The Amgen deal “confirms the American public’s worst suspicions of how Congress operates,” Representative Welch told us this week. “As the nation’s economy teetered on the edge of a Congressional-created fiscal cliff, lobbyists for a private, for-profit company seized an opportunity to feed at the public trough. It’s no wonder cockroaches and root canals are more popular than Congress.”
Read More From Bill Moyers.com about this Foul Play by three US Senators McConnell, Baucus, and Hatch
Senator Baucus (D-MT) was a good friend of President Bush and was always counted to be there for a vote when it was needed for a Bush agenda item.  Now he is part of the 'good old boy' system that flourishes in the Senate.  Yet these Senators wonder why both sides are mad?  Although I think those of us who are center right are probably more livid at Republicans in Congress then those on the left as we have a lot more to be livid about as we swallowed their koolaid over the years.  

For example, yesterday 35 Republican Senators and one Democrat Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) voted against aid for Hurricane Sandy victims including Rubio from Florida who has seen large amount of hurricane relief given to his state, my two Oklahoma Senators who also saw tornado relief in huge numbers come into Oklahoma and other Republicans along the eastern shore whose states have received large amounts of aid. 
When the Senate passed the long-delayed $50.5 billion Hurricane Sandy relief package Monday, 36 Republicans voted against the bill. But of the 32 no-votes from Senators who are not brand-new members, at least 31 came from Republicans who had previously supported emergency aid efforts following disasters in their own states. 
While opponents complained that the bill contained too much unrelated “pork,” each of the 30 of them who had been present earlier this month when the Senate passed the much-smaller $9 billion Sandy relief bill also voted no. All five top members of the Senate Republican leadership voted no on both. 
Most incredible among the no voters were Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Pat Toomey (R-PA). Those two had not just backed disaster aid in the past — they actually sought disaster aid for their own states for relief from Hurricane Sandy. And Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) endorsed disaster relief for snow storms damages in Arkansas just four days before casting his “nay” vote.
Visit Think Progress to see a list of the aid requested by these 31 Republicans for their states for past disasters
Senator Vitter (R-LA) did vote for the aid which to me shows he appreciated what the Federal Government has done for New Orleans and the Gulf.  Senator Heller from NV was another 'yes' vote.  In fact Senator Heller has been voting for his state on almost all votes instead of following the party line which is refreshing.  Reminds me of the Maine Senators Collins and Snowe (now retired).  Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) was right there with Collins to vote yes so we have a few with common sense.  Unfortunately there are 35 Republican Senators who voted "NO" to go along with their arrogance, hypocrisy and heads buried in the sand who will do anything to block something President Obama requests.  

Yet the GOP wonders why so many of us center right Republicans are not only mad but have one foot out the door.

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