Booker is taking orders from corporate pharmaceuticals
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It is a well-worn cliché that one should not throw stones from glass houses. Unfortunately, this apparently is one that Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) has yet to internalize: an omission which may well have led to the most hilariously pathetic series of news cycles any senator can endure.

Last week, in what can only be described as historically shameless grandstanding, Booker broke with the entire history of Senate precedent and testified against the nomination of his former colleague Alabama Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsWith another caravan heading North, a closer look at our asylum law Harris to resign from Senate seat on Monday Rosenstein: Zero tolerance immigration policy 'never should have been proposed or implemented' MORE for attorney general. Displaying the approximate self-awareness of an infant still struggling to grasp object permanence, Booker denounced the man he had previously praised for his work on civil rights as callous and indifferent to justice. Apparently, Booker’s appreciation of the accomplishments of others extends only as far as his presidential ambitions can permit.

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And, indeed, judged purely from a cynical, power-seeking perspective, Booker’s stunt was a success: he energized the left-wing base of the Democratic Party, who are presently craving a hero with a plausible presidential future. Booker could, indeed, have walked away from the whole thing an early frontrunner for the 2020 presidential race.

 

But, unfortunately for Booker, newly minted heroes sometimes tread on fragile ground -- terrain that is easily swept out from under them when they cross more established lions of the left. Booker managed this in just under a week, antagonizing both Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTim Ryan says he's 'looking seriously' at running for Portman's Senate seat Bernie Sanders has been most-followed member of Congress on social media for six years This week: Senate stuck in limbo MORE (D-Vt.), and its great 1/32nd Native American hope Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenTim Ryan says he's 'looking seriously' at running for Portman's Senate seat Leahy, not Roberts, to preside over impeachment trial Skepticism reigns as Biden, McConnell begin new era MORE, not to mention the legions of activists behind them who immediately abandoned any goodwill he had previously earned.

How did he manage this? By publicly taking a stand against a Senate amendment permitting importation of pharmaceuticals, a practice which would likely lower the absurd prices that presently exist in the United States. 

The bill, which was sponsored by Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharSenators spar over validity of Trump impeachment trial Sunday shows - Biden agenda, Trump impeachment trial dominate Klobuchar says Senate impeachment trial of former official is constitutional: 'We have precedent' MORE (D-Minn.) and Sanders himself, was notable in that despite its far left origins, it attracted the support of such right-wing firebrands as Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOvernight Defense: Austin takes helm at Pentagon | COVID-19 briefing part of Day 1 agenda | Outrage over images of National Guard troops in parking garage Austin sworn in as nation's first Black Pentagon chief The Hill's 12:30 Report: Next steps in the Trump impeachment MORE (R-Utah) and the much-despised Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate to vote Tuesday on Biden's secretary of State pick To 'lower the temperature' raise commitments to federalism Leahy, not Roberts, to preside over impeachment trial MORE (R-Texas). It also would have fit right in with President-elect Trump’s publicly expressed determination to force drug prices down. 

In this, Trump, Lee, and Cruz were staying consistent with previous Republican administrations’ desire to attack high drug prices: in particular, their stances echoed President George H. W. Bush’s support for the 340B drug discount program, which requires pharmaceutical companies receiving Medicaid and Medicare Part B funding to offer their drugs to vulnerable populations at lower prices. And good for them, because measures that take aim at the shameless monopoly-style pricing regime of Big Pharma are part and parcel of the populist conservatism that defines today’s Republican Party.

So why, with grassroots leaders of both parties supporting it, would Booker vote it down? The answer, of course, is money. The pharmaceutical industry is Booker’s eighth biggest donor, which may explain why his concerns over the bill so obviously echoed that industry’s own talking points. 

Booker is, of course, entitled to act on behalf of corporate America, but to take this step so soon after denouncing Sessions for inattention to justice, particularly for minorities, takes a special level of gall. Black Americans especially tend to be poorer than their counterparts, and thus can least afford the abusive pricing that pharma favors. Booker, who was formerly mayor of the heavily ghettoized Newark, should be well-aware of the effect that poverty and poor medical care can have on a population. And, similarly, he should be unwilling to tolerate it.

The Left is rightly denouncing this (in a rare moment of consistency and moral clarity). Meanwhile, conservatives seeking proof that mainstream Democrats (of which Booker is an exemplary figure) have learned nothing from their November trouncing should look no further. In fact, Booker’s cynical gestures of solidarity with minority populations, and his immediate self-refuting actions in the face of financial support, are eerily similar to the actions of none other than Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSenate to vote Tuesday on Biden's secretary of State pick Portman planned exit sets off Ohio free-for-all Biden must wait weekend for State Department pick MORE, pharma’s most expensive mistake of 2016. 

Like Hillary, Booker’s problem is clear. Just like his friend T-Bone, Booker’s commitment to helping black Americans is very much in doubt.

Mytheos Holt (@MytheosHolt) is a senior fellow at the Institute for Liberty. He has worked as a speechwriter for Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoSenate to vote Tuesday on Biden's secretary of State pick OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden EPA asks Justice Dept. to pause defense of Trump-era rules | Company appeals rejection of Pebble Mine | Energy pick Granholm to get hearing Wednesday Nomination hearing for Biden Energy pick Granholm set for Wednesday MORE (R-Wyo.), and as a writer for publications including The Federalist.


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