Monday, May 23, 2022

Trump takes lead while Dems strike out

| December 20, 2021 8:51 AM

It’s high time to give former President Trump the credit he deserves … for something other than inciting the Capitol riot on Jan. 6.

While other politicians groan about the high cost of insulin, and do nothing about it, Trump changed the course with a stroke of the pen. He issued an executive order last year that would cap insulin costs at $35 a month for about a third of Medicare recipients — giving a hopeful prospect for millions of Americans with diabetes. Folks who were in line for the benefit would no longer have to choose between paying for the lifesaving drug and buying groceries.

The executive order didn’t stand for long. President Biden, upon taking office, rescinded or delayed a multitude of Trump’s executive orders – including the one pertaining to insulin. There were a variety of reasons (or excuses) for putting the order on hold, including bureaucrats complaining about the added paperwork that would go with the change. But apparently, the bean counters were OK with enabling drug companies to rake in big profits on the backs of people with diabetes. Insulin hasn’t changed radically in the last decade, yet the cost to consumers keep rising to the tune of 10 to 15 percent a year. It’s legal extortion at its worst.

But none of this came into play when Biden delayed the executive order. The bottom line was that if it came from Trump, then it must have been a bad idea.

Since then, the Dems have been scrambling like Keystone Cops to put their own stamp on insulin prices. The $35 cap, which significantly expands on Trump’s executive order, is part of the Democrats’ zillion-dollar baby with a feel-good name, the Build Back Better Act. It would bring more Medicare plans into the fold, which is a good thing.

On the downside, it adds more spending when the national debt is approaching $30 trillion. But who’s counting?

Not surprisingly, the Democrat-controlled House passed BBB on a party-line vote, but it’s not a slam dunk in the Senate where at least one Democrat — Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia — is holding out. The president and Democrats have given up hope for passing BBB by the end of the year, which takes us into the mid-term election campaign.

There’s no mystery on the Republican side. Idaho Reps. Mike Simpson and Russ Fulcher voted against it in the House; Sen. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch are firm with their opposition in the Senate. The Dems say that the nearly $2 trillion spending plan would be paid by big corporations and people making more than $400,000 a year. Crapo, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, isn’t buying it.

“This ‘human infrastructure’ bill is a filibuster-proof budget proposal that will do long-term damage to our economy,” he says. “It is a blueprint to recklessly tax and spend our country into fiscal ruin. The measure increases taxes on businesses small and large; on farmers and ranchers; on retirees; and certainly on those making less than $400,000 a year.”

Fulcher expressed similar strong objections with his “no” vote in the House. “The size and scope of this (more than) 2,460-page bill would be the largest expansion of government in our nation’s history. This legislation reflects the most extreme priorities of the House Democratic caucus and would put our country one step closer to socialism.”

Of course, what Republicans think about the bill – and the president’s social agenda in general — is irrelevant. If Democrats want Build Back America, with all the socialistic trappings, they can have it. It’s kind of like the Idaho Legislature where Republicans can get what they want, and it doesn’t matter what Democrats say or think.

The consolation, if BBB passes without a lot of tinkering, there would be at least one positive aspect to the act. It would finally make headway on the cost of insulin for the millions of Americans who are battling with diabetes.

Naturally, Democrats will be the first in line to take credit for putting a check on “big Pharma” and rescuing insulin-dependent diabetics. But let’s not forget that it was this “Scrooge” from the Christmas past, Donald J. Trump, who put the foundation in place.

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Chuck Malloy, a longtime Idaho journalist and Silver Valley native, is a columnist with Idaho Politics Weekly. He may be reached at