Arnold’s promises to voters –
to stand up to special interests – and the precedent he sets for
legislators, whom he targeted in the recall campaign as beholden to
special interest spending, require him to prove that he’s not addicted
to drug company contributions by giving back the 325K+ he’s received.
Assembly Members who have themselves taken a share of another $550k in
drug money distributed among state legislators will be tempted to vote
against a number of reform bills coming up for a vote in the Assembly
this week. Arnold needs to lead by example and rebate the
pharmaceutical company money.
Among the most promising cost-control proposals are those to allow the
reimportation of U.S. made prescriptions from Canada (AB 1957, Frommer)
and allow CalPERS to negotiate bulk discounts of 30-60% off drug prices
on behalf of small business owners and the uninsured like the Canadian
government and some federal agencies currently do (AB 1958, Frommer).
The pharmaceutical companies and lobbying associations have upped the
dose this year by spending 25% more lobbying legislators and the Gov in
the first three months of 2004 compared to the same period in 2003.
Whether or not Arnold can ‘just say no’ will be a test of his
commitment to stand-up to special interest groups.
During the Wilson Administration, Arnold was the poster boy for
physical fitness. If Arnold does not give back the drug company money
he’ll be the poster boy for pharmaceutical dependence.