Sunday, January 14, 2007

House Republican flip-floppers … now vote against bills they sponsored.

The Washington Post has a piece indicating that House Republicans might be voting their conscience more this session. Well, if this is their conscience, then they are still not in sync with the majority of Americans.

Case in point. The vote approving the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act was passed with 24 Republicans joining the Democrats to pass the legislation while 170 voted against. Although many seniors have come to accept the new Medicare Part-D program, polling has been done that indicates that seniors also feel the Government should negotiate and get better prices. Roy Blunt, the Republican Minority Whip, commented that Democrats are passing “issues that poll at 80, 90 percent” -- so how do Republicans vote against legislation that Americans clearly want?

The pharmaceutical industry lobbyists are working hard against this legislation yet independent advocacy groups cite a recent study by Consumers Reports that finds that prices paid by seniors in the Medicare drug program are more than twice that paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs, which negotiates prices.

What is sad about this is that some Republicans seem to have changed their stance from last session. Part-D was considered too expensive for many fiscal conservatives. Republicans tried to alter the program last session to affect the prices that consumers pay. Jo Ann Emerson authored a bill that would have allowed price negations and Gil Gutknecht offered legislation that would have allowed re-importation of prescription drugs. These pieces of legislation had Democrat and Republican support but the Hastert-Delay K-street crowd would not permit a vote. Looking at the cosponsors and Friday’s vote, it would appear that the following Congressmen have decided it is better to vote for K-street than Main Street.
Elton Gallegly (CA-24)
Mike Simpson (ID-2)
John Boozman (AR-3)
Ginny Brown-White (FL-5)
Jeff Flake (AZ-6)
Trent Franks (AZ-2)
Wayne Gichrest (MD-6)
Doc Hastings (WA-4)
Steve King (IA-5)
Donald Manzullo (IL-16)
Chris Shays (CT-4)
Tom Tancredo (CO-6)

While the House bill has been approved, the Senate bill has not yet been voted upon. Norm Coleman has indicated that he will not support Main Street. Minnesotans need to contact Coleman’s office and indicate their displeasure. President Bush indicates that he will veto this legislation. To override a veto would take a 2/3rds majority, so it is important that Representatives Bachmann and Kline hear from their constituents and reconsider their votes.

Fiscal conservatives and consumer advocacy groups agree, America can save money with an improved Medicare Prescription Drug.

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