After a month, Senator Mitch McConnell has finally answered news reports that the "fiscal cliff" deal he brokered in Congress contained a sweetheart provision for a drug firm that has contributed $73,000 to his campaigns. Well, McConnell didn't actually answer, a spokesman did.
Part of the answer was that McConnell didn't know the provision would directly benefit the firm which had donated to him. That's comforting.
Part of the answer was that provisions like that, and many others, were needed to get the bill thru Congress..overlooking that this is both "pork" and "earmarks" that both parties have pledged to end.
Since then, news reports show the firm involved, Amgen, pleaded guilty to offering illegal kickbacks to get its product used..and paid the largest fine ever for a biotech firm, $762 million---which it can afford, since the one drug in the fiscal cliff bill that was earmarked made them $500 million a year--which you and I pay for. And the firm has many other drugs.
The stink is getting so bad a bi-partisan group in the House is offering a bill to repeal that provision. Let's hope. (But many more similar provisions remain.)
Meantime, a year early, McConnell has opened his re-election campaign office. Thanks to the Supreme Court's "Citizens United" decision, we may not be able to learn if Amgen backs his re-election with more thousands of dollars.
Meanwhile, new Congressman Andy Barr came home and said he voted against funds for Sandy relief because they didn't contain offsetting reductions in federal spending. He apparently wasn't asked if he would have taken the same approach had the relief funds been for Eastern Kentucky tornado victims (in his district) rather than fellow citizens in NJ, NY, and Connecticut. I don't agree with his argument...how do you budget a year in advance for storms like Sandy? Still it was good that he felt, properly, the need to explain his vote to his constituents; I don't remember Ben Chandler doing that very often.
You learned about his vote on local TV; I didn't see it reported in the Herald-Leader, which used to carry such votes routinely. The paper no longer has a Washington reporter, tho it could have gotten it from the Associated Press.
I'm just sayin'...