The Swamp is Full

SK Ashby
Written by SK Ashby

The New York Times reported last night that the Trump regime has granted waives to over a dozen White House staffers, allowing them to act as lobbyists and craft policy at the same time.

WASHINGTON — President Trump has given at least 16 White House staff members dispensation to work on policy matters they handled while employed as lobbyists or to interact with their former colleagues in private-sector jobs, according to records released late Wednesday.

The details on these so-called ethics waivers — more than five times the number granted in the first four months of the Obama administration — were made public after an intense dispute between the White House and the Office of Government Ethics, which had been pushing the Trump administration to stop granting such waivers in secret.

The Times is understating things. Trump has already granted more ethics waivers than President Obama did over the course of eight years.

Among other things, Trump's waivers have allowed an anti-regulation lobbyist for the fossil fuel industry to fill a position in the office responsible for rolling back regulations. Trump has brought the industry directly into the White House and the decision making process. There's no separation.

Meanwhile, Pro Publica reported this morning that Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price lobbied for higher drug prices in another country just a few days after buying $90,000 in drug stocks.

Here's the really delicious part: Price reportedly traveled to Australia to lobby for higher prices as part of Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.

The Australian government was getting in the way of one change demanded by U.S. pharmaceutical companies. Makers of cutting-edge biological drugs wanted to have data from their clinical trials protected from competitors for 12 years, as they are under U.S. law — not the roughly five years permitted under the TPP. Australian officials insisted that an extension would deprive consumers of cheaper alternatives for too long.

On April 5, 2016, a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers arrived in Canberra, Australia’s capital, for meetings with government officials on a broad range of subjects. Among those on the routine congressional trip was Rep. Tom Price, a Georgia Republican who would go on to become President Trump’s secretary of health and human services. Three weeks before the trip, Price had purchased up to $90,000 worth of pharmaceutical stocks — trades that would come under scrutiny after his nomination to Trump’s cabinet.

Isn't that something?

The evil, diabolical Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which some gullible people on the left (and right) say is the source of all our problems, would have saved tens of millions, maybe even hundreds of millions of people, money on generic drugs. The Australian government didn't give in to the demands of the American pharmaceutical industry, but it doesn't matter now. Trump killed the trade partnership. Tom Price's stocks are safe. The astronomically-high price of American drugs is safe.

I'm sure there's a considerable amount of overlap between people who believe the cost of prescription drugs is far too high and those who believed the TPP was the devil.