Michael Bloomberg’s dumb statement about the origins of the financial crisis has already been dealt with here and elsewhere (mostly elsewhere). The post, though, from Dean Baker, caught my eye not so much with its refutation of Bloomberg (although that’s good, too) but with some of the other facts.
Baker offers some options to help out our debt “crisis” that don’t involve slashing the social safety net, writing:
To pit the young against the old it is also necessary to rule out large cuts in government payments to the pharmaceutical industry. The government is projected to spend close to $1.5 trillion on prescription drugs in the next decade that would sell for around $150 billion in a free market without government granted patent monopolies. It is also necessary to rule out freer trade in medical services that would allow people in the United States to take advantage of the more efficient health care systems elsewhere in the world. If we paid the same amount per person for our health care as did people in any other wealthy country we would be looking at huge budget surpluses in the long-term, not deficits.
All of this is good stuff, but what really caught my eye was the line about prescription drugs. Obama, of course, promised to do away with the ban on importing pharmaceutical drugs and then almost immediately went back on that promise. Democrats tried to change the monopolies too when they won the 2006 midterms but it didn’t quite happen.
But the savings that Baker references, which total more than $1 trillion, are significant. That change alone would save more than the Super Committee is being asked to cut. I read at least 15 or 20 online news sources a day, including the traditional newspapers. I watch cable news TV all the time. I’ll even dabble in the Serious Sunday shows before football if there’s no good soccer on FSC. And I’ve never heard that statistic. Not once.
In a functioning media world, where anchors/personalities actually gave a crap about the lives of other people, I would’ve heard that fact before. If you don’t work for a pharmaceutical company, you’d benefit from Baker’s prescription. It’s a quintessential example of a public interest. And yet, on all our wonderful TV news programs and in all our major newspapers, this fact is nowhere to be found. It’s almost as if, for all their talk of being one of the folks, our multimillionaire news characters care less about giving us pertinent news than earning those paychecks .