Biden pushes to cut prescription drug costs

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) – President Joe Biden has called on Congress to push forward his $ 3.5 trillion plan that, among other things, would lower the cost of prescription drugs.

“There aren’t a lot of things that almost all Americans could agree on,” Biden said in a speech Thursday. “But I think it’s safe to say that all of us, whatever our origins or our age and where we live, could agree that prescription drug prices are shockingly high in America.”

Three specifics of the plan would allow Medicare officials to negotiate prices with drug makers, cap the amount paid by seniors, and increase the number of more affordable generic drugs available.

“These prices have put pressure on too many families and stripped them of their dignity. They have been forced, forced people to make terrible choices between maintaining their health, paying their rent or paying their mortgage, putting food on the table. I mean, literally, ”Biden said.

Drug prices have skyrocketed in recent years.

The prices of insulin and multiple sclerosis drugs have jumped 1,200% and 1,000%, respectively, since the 1990s.

Biden overcame skepticism, deep political polarization, and legislative gambling to gain bipartisan Senate approval this week for his $ 1,000 billion infrastructure bill.

But as the bill passes for House consideration on August 23 alongside a $ 3.5 trillion budget that achieves the rest of Biden’s agenda, the president faces an even more complicated task. He must maintain a diverse, sometimes factional, Democratic Party behind the fragile compromises that underlie the two measures.

If Biden and the Democratic leaders in Congress hope to succeed with what they have called a two-track legislative strategy, the months ahead will almost certainly be dominated by a tedious balancing act. With extremely slim majorities in Congress, Biden can’t afford many defections to a party whose membership includes moderates and progressives.

“Is it going to be easy?” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday. “Absolutely not. But if the past is a prologue, we have a chance – a decent chance.”

The problem had been brewing for months. In a May 17 letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Schumer, a group of 59 House Democrats referred to new investments in the range of $ 7 trillion to $ 9.5 trillion. dollars.

Senate Democrats have also had their share of worried members.

In a letter to executives, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, one of two high-level moderate senators, expressed doubts about the size of the $ 3.5 trillion package.

“It is simply irresponsible to continue spending at levels more suited to respond to a Great Depression or a Great Recession – and not an economy on the verge of overheating,” Manchin said in a statement. He urged his colleagues “to take this reality seriously as this budget process unfolds”.

At the same time, progressives in the House, who have just forced the administration’s hand to revive a moratorium on evictions, have made it clear they see a time to wield power.

With no votes to spare in the Senate 50-50 and a slim margin in the House, any senator or a few representatives could deny Biden the majority he needs to pass. Knowing that they must appease everyone in their party, Biden and the Democratic leadership in Congress pushed for the infrastructure and budget bills to be pursued simultaneously.

Biden appeared to be targeting moderates’ concerns on Wednesday that his plan would put too much money into the economy, saying his program was “a long-term investment” and “fiscally responsible.”

The president described the package not as an economic stimulus, but as a more substantial overhaul in support provided for child care, senior care and other aspects of American life.

“If your main concern right now is the cost of living, you must support this plan, not oppose it,” said the president.

From Biden’s plan, the package will essentially rewire the social safety net and expand the role of government in industries and livelihoods, on par with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal or Lyndon B.’s Great Society. Johnson. White House aides are heartened by the fact that so far liberals and moderates have engaged in simple saber rattling with no red lines drawn.

“We have a diverse caucus, from Bernie Sanders, we have Joe Manchin and everyone in between,” Schumer said. “There are some in my caucus who might think it’s too much. Some members of my caucus believe it is too little. We’re all going to come together to do something. “

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