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May 24, 2004 - 01:00 PM
Arnold's Addictionby Jerry Flanagan
Arnold's promises to voters - to stand up to special interests - and the precedent he sets for legislators, whom he targeted in the recall campaign as beholden to special interest spending, require him to prove that he's not addicted to drug company contributions by giving back the 325K+ he's received.
Assembly Members who have themselves taken a share of another $550k in drug money distributed among state legislators will be tempted to vote against a number of reform bills coming up for a vote in the Assembly this week. Arnold needs to lead by example and rebate the pharmaceutical company money.
Among the most promising cost-control proposals are those to allow the reimportation of U.S. made prescriptions from Canada (AB 1957, Frommer) and allow CalPERS to negotiate bulk discounts of 30-60% off drug prices on behalf of small business owners and the uninsured like the Canadian government and some federal agencies currently do (AB 1958, Frommer).
The pharmaceutical companies and lobbying associations have upped the dose this year by spending 25% more lobbying legislators and the Gov in the first three months of 2004 compared to the same period in 2003. Whether or not Arnold can 'just say no' will be a test of his commitment to stand-up to special interest groups.
During the Wilson Administration, Arnold was the poster boy for physical fitness. If Arnold does not give back the drug company money he'll be the poster boy for pharmaceutical dependence.
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