One of the only ideas that’s even close to being good ever proposed by the Trump administration is the proposal to limit drug prices based on what other countries pay for them—though only for Medicare Part B, or physician-administered drugs, covering just 22 percent of Medicare drug spending. So close to being a good idea, in fact, that the conservative establishment in Washington is ferociously opposing it.
The medical news website STAT (paywalled) reported today on the battle between the Trump administration and key conservative groups, like Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and the American Conservative Union. According to STAT, Trump official Joe Grogan issued a “a head-turning admonishment” to conservative health policy figures at a private meeting on July 12, telling them: “The president will not be outflanked on the left on drug prices.” (There is not a ton of risk of that, since Pelosi’s drug-price proposal is shaping up to be desperately pathetic.)
The article notes that these groups have been campaigning hard against the Trump administration’s Medicare Part B proposal. FreedomWorks, for example, recently ran several ads on Facebook praising Republican senators for “opposing socialized medicine,” i.e. efforts to cap drug price increases. Some of FreedomWorks’ calls to action about other proposed price controls, like Sens. Chuck Grassley and Ron Wyden’s bill that would limit Medicare drug costs, are truly bonkers:
Deadly illnesses like cancer, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease are killing our family and friends.
But instead of helping American companies find a cure, swamp senators like Democrat Ron Wyden want to hit them with socialist price controls.
Again, this is about a bill that would limit what seniors pay for drugs, yet is clearly targeted at Boomers whose friends are slowly dying of illnesses and spending thousands of dollars while doing so, because socialism.
Meanwhile, the vice president of health policy at the Chamber of Commerce told STAT on the record that she found it “somewhat strange that a conservative administration is putting out proposals that seem to have a tinge of socialist background.” Calling Donald Trump a socialist! Imagine!
Another recent ad from ATR was even more ridiculous:
The most inflammatory ad takes a classic approach: It features Trump’s grinning face alongside that of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the left-wing presidential candidate who supports foreign-derived price caps.
“Don’t be a Bernie Bro, Protect Medicare Part B,” the text of the ad implores voters.
Earlier this year, the American Conservative Union and several other conservative groups launched a ridiculous website attacking Medicare for All, even praising Trump for “fighting against socialized medicine.” Now Trump is a Bernie Bro. (Imagine MoveOn running an ad calling a Democrat a MAGA chud; you can’t.)
The most recent ad from ATR, meanwhile, is hilarious in a different way. It plays a clip of Trump’s State of the Union address, in which he said “America will never be a socialist country,” followed by the narrator shouting: “YES, Mr. President, STOP socialist price controls.” You get more flies with honey than vinegar, I guess. According to the data in Facebook’s political ad archive, the ad was only shown in Maryland and Virginia, the two states surrounding Washington, D.C.—hardly a grassroots effort.
All these groups have, in addition to millions of dollars, is a Super Soaker filled with SOCIALISM! paint, and they will spray it over anyone they can—Democrats, Republicans, the blatantly fascist president—if they think it helps. I do not know that it helps as much as they think it does.