Thursday, September 28, 2006

James Inhofe Parades his “Senior Advocacy” Award from Pharmaceutical Industry Front Group

Earlier this week, Jim Mountain Inhofe issued a press release praising himself for receiving the Guardian of Seniors’ Rights Award for “his continued support of seniors’ rights during the 109th Congress.” The organization that presented Inhofe with this award, the 60 Plus Association, is described in the release as “a non-partisan seniors’ citizens association [that] advocates a prescription drug benefit for seniors as well as tax fairness, fiscal responsibility, and other current seniors citizen issues.”

In fact, 60 Plus is anything but a senior’s advocacy group. According to the AARP, the largest and most recognized group representing America’s seniors, and Public Citizen, a non-profit public interest organization, 60 Plus is actually a conservative front group for the nation’s pharmaceutical industry, namely PhRMA, the drug industry’s chief trade association. According to an investigation conducted by the AARP Bulletin, virtually all of the contributions to 60 Plus in recent years have come from the same source – America’s pharmaceutical industry. 60 Plus is actually one of three front groups for the industry, according to that study and one conducted by Public Citizen. The other two are United Seniors Association and the Seniors Coalition. From AARP: “All three organizations claim to be nonpartisan, though they support – almost without exception – the campaigns and causes of one party.” Bet you can’t guess which one!

Indeed, lobbying disclosure forms filed by 60 Plus reveal that the group has spent inordinate amounts of money, well over $14 million since 2000 on issues such as repealing the estate tax (a well-known Republican priority), private accounts for Social Security, CAFTA, the Patriot Act, conservative judicial nominations, drilling in ANWR, and the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit, which was widely criticized as a giveaway to drug companies. (Baltimore Sun, 12/1/03; Chicago Tribune, 10/30/03; St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 11/26/03; Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 11/26/03; News and Observer, 11/23/03)

When President Bush spoke at the signing of the Medicare bill, he specifically thanked the president of 60 Plus, Jim Martin, along with the chair and CEO of United Seniors Association, for their hard work on the legislation. (Washington Post, 12/8/03)

In addition, Mr. Martin, along with other 60 Plus representatives, have penned a variety of interesting editorials over the years in the name of 60 Plus, but many of the issues he endorses aren’t exactly your run-of-the-mill serniors’ issues. They include: “Global Warming: Emissions treaty would devastate the US economy,” (Kansas City Star, 7/17/05); “One man, one woman, no compromises,” (Scripps Howard, 4/23/04); USA Patriot Act: It’s about safety, not snooping.” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 11/9/03); “Over-due drilling in ANWR,” (Washington Times, 2/2/03); and my personal favorite, “Don’t blame ‘Big Oil’ for high energy costs,” (Herald News, 11/27/05).

It would take a conservative front group to recognize a senator like Inhofe for his supposed crusade for seniors. Inhofe has most certainly sided more with the drug industry than with seniors. Surprising, since, at 71, he's a senior himself. Inhofe voted against allowing for the negotiation of lower prescription drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries. (Senate Roll Call Vote 50, 3/15/06) He penalized seniors by repeatedly voting against extending the deadline for enrolling in the Medicare prescription drug plan. (Senate Roll Call Vote 5, 2/2/06; Senate Roll Call Vote 342, 11/17/0/5) He voted for significant cuts in Medicare and Medicaid with his support of the Budget Reconciliation package. (Senate Roll Call Vote 303, 11/3/05) And, of course, he voted for the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit bill, largely a giveaway to drug companies at the expense of America’s seniors. (Senate Roll Call Vote 459, 11/25/03)

Congratulations Senator, guess you earned it.


At 2:25 PM, Blogger SoonerThought said...

Worthless! Vote him out, folks!

At 3:48 PM, Blogger Marc said...

In case anyone is interested, here is a video of this year's student commencement speech at New York University's graduation. The speaker goes after Senator Inhofe, the Drudge Report and Fox News for their distortion of the facts about climate change.


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