After the CEO of Merck criticized the president’s response to Charlottesville and resigned yesterday from Trump’s Manufacturing Council, our snowflake-in-chief wasted less than an hour before attacking. “Now…Ken Frazier…will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!”
I’m as eager as anyone to see drug prices come down. But I can’t help thinking that instead of responding like the petulant snowflake he usually presents himself as, our president could do something constructive to help out millions of Americans by taking a couple of steps that would actually lower drug prices. The head of Merck is in business to make money. (By the way Frazier, unlike Trump, is not bound by the emoluments clause, which Trump is violating every day. The Constitution forbids presidents from charging ripoff prices for hotels, restaurants, golf courses, etc. because the Founders feared a corrupt ruler, like Trump, putting the interests of foreigners (such as Russians or Turks, among others) above the interests of U.S. citizens.) Merck is in no position to lower their prices unilaterally because that would put their shareholders’ investment at risk. But the American president can do at least two things today that could lower drug prices: 1) tell Congress to revise the Medicare drug benefit law passed in the George W. Bush years, and insist that the federal government have power to negotiate drug prices, which current law forbids. Current law is a big fat giveaway to drug companies. The law practically begs drug companies to charge ripoff prices. Memo to Trump: stop being such a snowflake, pay some attention to details, and become a real hero; 2) use your presidential authority to direct HHS and Healthcare.gov to stabilize the Obamacare exchanges. Rebrand the exchanges as Trumpcare if that makes you feel better. Then push for a public option, or a Medicare buy-in for people aged 55 or 60, or even lay out how a single-payer system could lower drug prices. Get a grip on the oath you took, which was to serve the American people.