As Congress came to a last minute deal over the so-called “fiscal cliff,” every penny of spending was on the chopping block — including benefit cuts to Medicare and Social Security. And all in the name of supposed “deficit reduction.”
So why on earth, when earned benefits and vital programs for working families were on the chopping block — did pharmaceutical giant Amgen end up with a $500 million giveaway from Medicare?
In our joint petition with Progressives United, 62,124 people signed to call on Amgen Chairman and CEO Robert Bradway to give back the $500 million in taxpayer dollars his company unfairly received at tax payer expense. With over 23,000 coming from USAction members alone!
And the petition also received press coverage, with a great piece in the Huffington Post, linked at the bottom.1
Your signatures were then delivered to Amgen’s Chairman and CEO Robert Bradway, but we have yet to hear a response back.
It is outrageous that in a time of fiscal austerity, where everyone is being asked to tighten their belts and make do with less, that we would gift a Fortune 500 company with a $500 million pay day.
Amgen, which recently pleaded guilty for misbranding a drug and was subsequently fined for $762 million, has a clear motive to steal back taxpayer money from Medicare by slipping in a provision favoring one of its drugs.1
And just how was Amgen able to get away with plundering the public coffers? Amgen’s strategy to achieve this sweetheart deal is the perfect example of corruption that permeates throughout Washington.
For starters, they hired 74 lobbyists to influence Congress, many of which were former chiefs of staffs to the senators most sympathetic to Amgen’s demands, including Finance Committee leaders Max Baucus (D-MT), Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Then they had a former Amgen analyst-turned top aide for Senator Hatch write the bill. And then they poured money into all three Senators’ campaign coffers, with Amgen’s PAC and employees spending between $60-75,000 per Senator to sweeten the deal. And that, ladies and gentleman, is how you buy Congress.
This is a textbook case of corruption. But luckily for you and me, over 62,000 people took action to call out Amgen. This petition, along with a new push from Rep. Peter Welch who has introduced a bill to repeal the provision favoring Amgen, we’ll be sending a clear message to corporate America that the days of special interests buying off our politicians and elections to receive sweetheart deals are numbered. Because we, the American People, are watching — and we’re fighting back!
1 – “Russ Feingold’s Progressives United Launches Petition Against Amgen’s Fiscal Cliff Deal,” The Huffington Post, January 31, 2013