Dark money group attacks Pelosi's bill to lower drug prices as a 'socialist takeover'


Nothing in H.R. 3 would establish a socialist health care system, as the ad claims.

The American Action Network (AAN) this week released seven new "issue ads" as part of a $2.5 million effort to push potentially vulnerable House Democrats to oppose House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's prescription drug price reduction legislation.

AAN, a tax-exempt dark money group, was founded by former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) and the late Fred Malek, President Richard Nixon’s so-called “Jew counter,” in 2010. A self-described "action tank," it works to "promote center-right policies based on the principles of freedom, limited government, American exceptionalism, and strong national security," usually by running ads attacking Democrats and praising Republicans.

The 30-second spots released on Monday target Reps. Cindy Axne (D-IA), Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Abby Finkenauer (D-IA), Jared Golden (D-ME), Andy Kim (D-NJ), Collin Peterson (D-MN), and Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) asking, "How much is your life worth?"

A narrator claims that "liberals in Congress are pushing a socialist plan to put government in control of prescription drug prices." Text on the screen indicates that this is a reference to H.R. 3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act — a bill unveiled last month by Pelosi (D-CA) and sponsored by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ).

Far from a socialist proposal, the legislation would let Medicare negotiate drug prices with private pharmaceutical companies for expensive medications it would then buy in bulk. This would lower the cost of treatments like insulin, saving money for both the federal government and consumers.

AAN then makes a seemingly unrelated point that "in other countries with socialist health care, patients wait months or years for vital treatments." Nothing in H.R. 3 would establish a socialist health care system that might somehow impact hospital wait times.

The ad concludes by urging views to call their respective lawmakers and tell them to "stop the socialist takeover of your prescription drug benefits."

AAN says its anti-H.R. 3 efforts "will reach seniors in 22 congressional districts, including TV in 7 districts, and mail, print, digital advertisements and live phone calls in all 22 districts urging lawmakers to reject Pelosi’s plan to limit seniors' access to lifesaving medications." They also say this follows a broader campaign to "stop government meddling in prescription drug prices."

Monday's ad is the latest in a broad campaign by the right to slam progressive idea as "socialism," even when has nothing to do with the topic.

The public does not appear to be on AAN's side: a recent KFF Health Tracking Poll found that 79% of Americans believe the cost of prescription drugs is "unreasonable." Roughly a quarter say it is difficult to afford their own medications.

Pelosi's bill — in its current form — has also received criticism from some Democrats who think it is not ambitious enough and contains too many loopholes.

AAN previously received at least $6 million from the pharmaceutical industry, the very companies that stand to lose the most in profits if the bill passes.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.