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National Parks – To Be Saved NOT Exploited

 

National Parks At Risk

Why is it when some people see a picture like this they think, oh how beautiful, we should keep this just like it is forever. And then there are some who think, wow I bet there is oil under that lake and uranium ore in those rocks. Damn namby pamby environmentalist. We need to get rid of them and their stupid regulations.

Well they got one step closer to that wish today with the resignation of 10 of the 12 chartered board members of the National Park Service Advisory Board. And why did these 12 people resign. Their explanation was their position and authority had been marginalized under the Trump administration. You know, the one Greg Walden supports every step of the way, then comes home to Oregon to tell the voters in the 2nd district how he is fighting to protect and maintain public lands. In their resignation letter, board Chairman Tony Knowles, former Alaskan governor, wrote he and the other members have stood waiting for the chance to meet and continue the partnership, as prescribed by law. Our request to engage have been ignored and the matters on which we wanted to brief the new Department team (Ryan Zinke) are not part of his agenda. There are over 200 boards in the U.S. that must, by law, have their charters reviewed, many are frozen because the Interior Department has yet to approve their updated charters as is legally required under the Federal Advisory Committee Act. The Rocky Mountain Committee has been unable to meet for over a year. So on one hand Zinke tells people local input is important for BLM to consider. Then on the other hand he does not approve their charters so they can legally meet. In two other instances, Zinke disbanded committees. The Hunting Heritage Conservation Council was replaced by the Hunting and Shooting Sports Council, who emphasizes using our parks for sport shooting and promoting hunting. Yes, that’s right. Create a safe environment for the animals in a park setting, then shoot them. Another council, the Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science, was simply disbanded. No great surprise there. Wait. I went to Walden’s town hall in Bend where he specifically said he was concerned about climate change. In a pigs eye he is.

The National Park System Advisory Board was established in 1935 and has held elected officials from both parties. It used to be both Republicans and Democrats shared concern for the posterity of our natural land. What is really fascinating is the initiative for our park service began with Republican Teddy Roosevelt, 26th president from 1901 to 1909. As a leader of the Republican Party during this time, he became a driving force for the Progressive Era in the United States in the early 20th century. As a leader of the Progressive movement, he championed his “Square Deal” domestic policies, promising the average citizen fairness, breaking of trusts, regulation of railroads, and pure food and drugs. Making conservation a top priority, he established many new national parks, forests, and monuments intended to preserve the nation’s natural resources. Yes folks. Once upon a time Republicans were progressive. What the hell happened???

The utter disrespect and contempt for those people selected to protect and maintain our national parks gets even nastier. One of Zinke’s top deputies is taking advantage of the board resigning by taking over their office space in DC. A guy by the name of Domenech, assistant secretary for insular areas (whatever the hell that is) is moving into the National Park Service offices, which they have occupied for over 50 years. A spokesperson for Zinke said they will be relocated elsewhere in the building. I’m betting in the basement next to the boiler room.

The Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, made up of current and former retired Park Service Staff, sharply criticized Zinke’s treatment of the long-standing board stating: “This discourteous and disrespectful treatment of the board is inexcusable and unfortunately, consistent with a decidedly anti-park pattern demonstrated by Zinke’s department. Zinke claims he is pro-park and has a pro-park agenda. We are now convinced we are waiting for that agenda in vain.”

A Journey Begins With A Step. Make Walden’s Next Step a Defeat in November

Tim White

A Fighter for the 2nd District of Oregon

Why Do We Keep Treating Native Americans So Badly

This writing is based on an article from the Confederated Umatilla Journal of November 2017.

Back in the 1930’s, the construction of the Bonneville, The Dalles and John Day dams on the lower Columbia river flooded homes, villages and traditional hunting and fishing grounds of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation, the Nez Perce Tribe, and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation. The U.S. government in return promised to fully compensate them for their losses. And in the great tradition of the U.S. Government when it comes to honoring treaties, promises and commitments made to native Americans, they mostly ignored them. Some tribal members continued to live along the river in mobile homes and dilapidated temporary housing. Then earlier this year, Congress approved $3 million for the Army Corps of Engineers to begin planning new housing near the The Dalles Dam. The Corps had half the money in hand and in order to continue the work, needed White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to reprogram $1.5 million from elsewhere in the Army Corps’ budget. Unfortunately, you already know where this story is heading. The OMB staff said the money would not be forthcoming because the Army Corps should not be in the housing business. Sure. They are only in the business of flooding existing housing and forcing people to relocate at their own expense. The area Democrats from Oregon and Washington State, including Wyden, Merkley, Blumenauer, Murray and Cantwell sent a letter to OMB reminding them the federal government has a legal and moral responsibility to address the unmet obligations of the U.S. to the four Columbia River Treaty Tribes…for the loss of tribal homes and villages associated with the construction of the dams more than 65 years ago. And, no Greg Walden did not lend any support even though this falls right in the middle of his district.

The OMB responded, reminding the Democratic representatives that it is the great tradition of the U.S. Government to ignore promises and treaties made to Native Americans. Okay. I made that last part up. In reality, the OMB simply chose not to respond at all.

Charles Hudson, Director of Government Affairs for the Portland-based Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, representing the interest of the four tribes, called the White House decision “disappointing”, saying now as the cold windy winter is about to set in, the timing could not have been worse to pull the plug on this program.

Here is how Tim White, Democratic candidate for the 2nd district would have phrased his response. Dear OMB, “Your decision to do nothing, after 65 years of doing nothing, is despicable. They needed a lousy $1.5 million to continue a program that should have been corrected 65 years ago when you flooded these people out of their homes. The U.S. Government spent more than $1.5 million last week just to fly Trump to Florida for a round of golf at his obscene rich white man’s playground. When you go to church this Sunday, ask God to forgive you. I sure as hell don’t.”

Tribal members, while I certainly applaud the efforts of the Oregon and Washington State Democrats on your behalf, it is not enough. Democrats must take back control of congress to ensure these programs are completed. Yes, this should have been done a long time ago. Help me help you by defeating Walden in November. That is a step in the right direction.

Best Regards

Tim White

A Democratic Fighter for the 2nd District of Oregon

Defense Contractors Win – America You Lose (Again)

On December 12 the Liar in Chief, AKA Donald Trump, signed a $700 billion dollar military spending bill. And do not even bother asking if Walden voted for it. Of course he did. But remember we have a lot of military plants in the 2nd district of Oregon don’t we? No??? But they do have them in the wealthy districts that routinely donate to Walden. As if that would influence his vote. I call this a military spending bill rather than a “defense” bill because that is exactly what it is. A reward to the military contractors that contribute to the members of Congress and Senators, to keep them in office. This amount is $110 billion more than approved under Obama. It is so huge that even the armed services are going wait. What the hell are we going to do with all this stuff. The Navy is getting 13 new ships and 2 more carriers. They asked for 8 new ships. The Navy is getting 24 Super Hornet Fighters (at a cost of $71 million per). They asked for 14. They are getting 90 Joint Strike Fighters (at a cost of $95 million per). They asked for 70. And here is a little tidbit about Lockheed Martin’s impressive record on this program: The price tag for the F-35 program at $400 billion for 2,457 planes, is twice the initial estimate, three years behind schedule and some $200 billion over its original budget. Gosh darn good job. Lockheed’s CEO Marillyn Hewson, made $19.4 million last year. She has a base pay of $1.6 million, but by meeting annual and long-term goals, such as screwing over the American tax payers with a 100% cost over-run on the F-35 program, earned an additional $17.8 million. The Army gets 7,500 more troops, the Marines 1,000. the Air Force 4,100 and the Navy 4,000. Of course the most likely recruits are all currently hiding from ICE officers so it might be difficult hitting these numbers. (humor intended).

There is absolutely no reason for this level of spending beyond CEO pay and campaign donations. As I say on the campaign stump, China has “1” carrier and Russia has almost “1”, as it is reported to be in need of repair more than it actually works. And we will now have 15 carriers. Russia spends $70 billion annually and plans to reduce that figure. China spend $220 billion annually. Collectively we spend more than the next 11 countries combined.

Congress has no idea how to contain these expenditures within allowable spending levels without looking for reductions elsewhere. That large crack you just heard is the Medicare floor breaking. AARP are you awake? Ryan and McConnell have already floated the idea of cuts to Medicare in 2018 just to see how loudly the public reacts. And during all this discussion, Hawaii somehow sets off their missile warning system that requires two things to happen: 1) the military informs them of an impending strike and 2) the state agency responds by sounding the alarm. It is not like somebody accidentally sat on the alarm button or worse yet…..what does this button do???

As Dwight Eisenhower reminded us in 1961…..beware the military industrial complex…..they are a threat to democracy

 

The Truth About the Tax Bill (A Gigantic Lie)

Well folks, I did take a little break over the holidays to recharge the batteries and I am back now and in full battle gear. Let’s talk about the horrendous tax bill.

The truth about the tax bill is that it rewarded a limited number of people. To be specific 1) Corporations who provide the campaign funds to keep congressional and senate members in office; 2) The very wealthy in this country who by virtue of owning 76% of the wealth, primarily in the form of corporate equity, will benefit enormously from the upward movement of stock price, which has already occurred and will continue into the foreseeable future; and 3) Those who own partnerships, S Corps and Sole Proprietorships, who will now be able to pass through 20% of their income at the corporate rate of 21% rather than the personal top rate of 37% (formerly 39.5%). So these people received a double bonus. And in case you are wondering, our current president’s entire source of personal income falls into this category.

Just for fun I performed a calculation of various incomes at the prior and new rates to see just who benefits and by how much. I took into consideration the doubling of standard deductions from $12,700 to $24,000 for a married coupled, and the elimination of the $4,050 allowable per person and dependent deduction.

Income Annual Savings
 $              20,000  $                           –
 $              80,000  $                        393
 $            160,000  $                    2,453
 $            250,000  $                    5,973
 $            400,000  $                  13,981
 $            500,000  $                  13,789
 $        1,000,000  $                  29,565

The median family income in the US was $59,000 in 2017. At that rate a family can expect to receive approximately an after tax increase in take home income of $300. In Oregon where the median family income is slightly less at $57,000, the increase in take home will be slightly less. For those paying no taxes but benefiting from the increase in the child tax credit, your increase in annual take home will be $300. The question you must be asking your self now with all this available income is should you plan a trip to Hawaii or Paris.

This tax cut in effect will add $1.5 Trillion in national debt, making us more vulnerable and limiting our ability to react to future recessions or even depression as we nearly experienced in 2008, all so the wealthy can become even wealthier. Yes you did hear Trump say you were going to get so much money you won’t know what to do with it. Trump’s personal economic adviser Gary Cohn suggested you remodel your kitchen with your savings. Yes you can do a lot with $300 these days.

Help me get to a congress and fight these lies. I may not be able to stop the monster, but I can damn well expose the hypocrisy that is congress.

 

 

 

“YES” Measure 101 – Protect Health Care for all Oregonians

Hello fellow CD2 Neighbors. As I was recently driving home from a holiday visit with my kids and grandkids, I drove past numerous anti-measure 101 signs on properties of folks who were obviously struggling economically. I could not help but wonder why these people would be so much against something that is so much for their benefit. Yes it is a 1.5% tax on various medical premiums and service, that was originally passed in 2003 with support from BOTH Republicans AND Democrats. The funding in turn then provided medical coverage for most of these same people that now have anti measure 101 signs on their property. I could only think that in 2003 the Republicans had not gone completely right wing crazy and now they have. I can not help but wonder what it will take for those people who have been left behind in the new economy to open their eyes and minds and say hey, we are getting really hosed here. The recent horrendous tax bill has as Trump was quoted as saying, made rich people even richer. And for once he was telling the truth. The stock market, which is where wealthy people invest their money is up 6% in just one month. The long term annual return of the NYSE is 6% annually and it did this in just one month because of the tax bill. So what happens if measure 101 fails in Oregon? Insurance companies, medical suppliers, etc. will all make more money and many of those people with anti measure 101 signs in the yard will lose their medical coverage and continue to fall further and further into poverty. I just want to scream. Stop the madness. If measure 101 fails, the projected loss of state revenue is nearly $700 million with a projected loss of federal matching funds of $1.9 billion. That puts at risk the health insurance of 350,000 Oregonians, starting with most of those folks with the signs in the yard. So I am going to vote to pay my fair share to care for those people who need me to do so, despite their ridiculous signs. And I ask all of those with a heart and a conscious, to do the same.

And if you are wondering where Waldo is on this issue…let me assure you….he will cast the first no vote for the measure…..

Oregon Central and Eastern Highway – The Road to the Future

Fellow Oregon 2nd District Neighbors

My research of the 2nd district lead me to the conclusion that we very much need an interstate through the district from I5 near Ashland out to Harney then due north to I84. This position was based on my own experience of driving through the district and my knowledge of what it will take to bring back the manufacturing base that we have lost. Over the recent holidays I had an interesting conversation with a gentleman who grew up near Medford, where his parents had farmed for a long time. When I brought up the idea of the interstate, he told me the original plan for I5 was nearly the same as what I was proposing. He told me to do a little more research, which I did.

I discovered courtesy of the Oregon Historical Society that back in the 1950’s, when I5 was being planned, the original plans called for a route to parallel US 97 through central Oregon. However, pressure from southern Oregon political interests forced the planners to change the route, and instead, run parallel to U.S. 99, through the Rogue Valley. As a result, primary economic development in the state all took place on the west side of the Cascades from Ashland / Medford to Portland, while central and eastern Oregon remained a very rural and undeveloped area. The society report explained how Oregon had long been a leader in road construction, and the state’s response to the 1956 Federal-Aid Highway Act was complicated by work the state had already undertaken to improve its roads. Even before World War II, Oregon’s roads—particularly U.S. 99, known as the Pacific Highway—were in poor condition, and Oregon State Highway Department (OSHD) planners urged major upgrades to the system. 

So it seems the short changing of the 2nd district has been going on for a very long time. It is time we tell the state and the federal government, it is our turn for economic development. As your congressman, that is exactly what I plan to do. Please help me with this huge task. Support me in the May 15 primary and then the November general election. For 20 years your current congressman has either chosen not to help you, or does not know how. Either way, it is time for a change. It is time for someone who will fight for the 2nd district rather than use it for personal career development.

Tim White

A fighter for the 2nd district of Oregon

Walden Why Don’t You Protect Our Veterans Rather Than Grandstand at Their Expense

Yesterday I read another story from Walden about all the great things he is doing to help our veterans. Then I read the headline story in USA Today that said for the last 15 years the VA has had a policy of hiring doctors and health care staff that had their licenses revoked in one state but managed to get a license in another state. The VA issued a national guideline in 2002 giving hospitals discretion to hire clinicians after “prior consideration of all relevant facts surrounding” any revocation as long as they still had a license in another state. This issuance was given even though a federal law passed in 1999 bars the VA from employing any health care worker whose license has been revoked by any state. Is your head spinning yet?

The VA in Iowa City hired a neurosurgeon, John Schneider, who revealed in his application that he had numerous malpractice claims and settlements and Wyoming had revoked his license. USA Today reported malpractice claims against Schneider included cases alleging he made surgical mistakes that left patients maimed, paralyzed or dead. Not surprisingly his VA patients in Iowa suffered complications. One patient, Richard Hopkins, died from an infection after four brain surgeries by Schneider in a span of four weeks. Of course Schneider denied responsibility blaming other providers for the poor outcomes.

There were other reported hiring snafus. A VA hospital in Oklahoma hired a psychiatrist sanctioned for sexual misconduct who then slept with a VA patient. The VA in Toma, Wisconsin hired a psychiatrist  disciplined for medication violations who then over prescribed narcotics to veterans. A Louisiana VA clinic hired a psychologist with felony convictions. They did fire him after determining he was a “direct threat to others”. Whatever that means.

Of course when this story broke a number of our elected officials were “appalled” and sent letters “expressing concern”. When I read these stories and hear the lame responses from our elected officials, I want to puke. Then there is old Greg Walden coming back to Oregon and quoting the bills he supports to reduce patient wait times, increase the number of workers and save the day. Running an organization is not that difficult if you actually have any experience doing it. Unfortunately when you have spent your entire career at the taxpayer trough, you have no idea how to actually do anything other than issue letters expressing “deep concern”. Our veterans deserve better. They deserve somebody who will actually fix the damn system rather than grandstand their expense.

Tim White

A Fighter for the 2nd District of Oregon

Republican Tax Cuts – The Truth and Nothing but the Truth

There are some really smart people on the planet with a good heart and a brilliant mind. Robert Reich is one of them. Walden is not. Take a read to see what Trump’s tax cuts really mean for the hard working people of the 2nd district. And I don’t give a damn which political party you support. This reprint is for all of us in the district.

Tim White

One Tough Democrat for the 2nd District of Oregon.

ROBERT B. REICH is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fourteen books, including the best sellers “Aftershock”, “The Work of Nations,” and”Beyond Outrage,” and, his most recent, “Saving Capitalism.” He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Here are the 3 main Republican arguments in favor of the Republican tax plan, followed by the truth.

  1. It will make American corporations competitive with foreign corporations, which are taxed at a lower rate.

Rubbish.

(1) American corporations now pay an effective rate (after taking deductions and tax credits) that’s just about the same as most foreign based corporations pay.

(2) Most of these other countries also impose a “Value Added Tax” on top of the corporate tax.

(3) When we cut our corporate rate from 35% to 20%, other nations will cut their corporate rates in order to be competitive with us – so we gain nothing anyway.

(4) Most big American corporations who benefit most from the Republican tax plan aren’t even “American.” Over 35 percent of their shareholders are foreign (which means that by cutting corporate taxes we’re giving a big tax cut to those foreign shareholders). 20 percent of their employees are foreign, while many Americans work for foreign-based corporations.

(5) The “competitiveness” of America depends on American workers, not on “American” corporations. But this tax plan will make it harder to finance public investments in education, health, and infrastructure, on which the future competitiveness of American workers depends.

(6) American corporations already have more money than they know what to do with. Their profits are at record levels. They’re using them to buy back their shares of stock, and raise executive pay. That’s what they’ll do with the additional $1 trillion they’ll receive in this tax cut.

***

  1. With the tax cut, big corporations and the rich will invest and create more jobs.

Baloney.

(1) Job creation doesn’t trickle down. After Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush cut taxes on the top, few jobs and little growth resulted. America cut taxes on corporations in 2004 in an attempt to get them to bring their profits home from abroad, and what happened? They didn’t invest. They just bought up more shares of their own stock, and increased executive pay.

(2) Companies expand and create jobs when there’s more demand for their goods and services. That demand comes from customers who have the money to buy what companies sell. Those customers are primarily the middle class and poor, who spend far more of their incomes than the rich. But this tax bill mostly benefits the rich.

(3) At a time when the richest 1 percent already have 40 percent of all the wealth in the country, it’s immoral to give them even more – especially when financed partly by 13 million low-income Americans who will lose their health coverage as a result of this tax plan (according to the Congressional Budget Office), and by subsequent cuts in safety-net programs necessitated by increasing the deficit by $1.5 trillion.

***

  1. It will give small businesses an incentive to invest and create more jobs.

Untrue.

(1) At least 85 percent of small businesses earn so little they already pay the lowest corporate tax rate, which this plan doesn’t change.

(2) In fact, because the tax plan bestows much larger rewards on big businesses, they’ll have more ability to use predatory tactics to squeeze small firms and force them out of business.

***

Don’t let your Uncle Bob be fooled: Republicans are voting for this because their wealthy patrons demand it. Their tax plan will weaken our economy for years – reducing demand, widening inequality, and increasing the national debt by at least $1.5 trillion over the next decade.

Shame on the greedy Republican backers who have engineered this. Shame on Trump and the Republicans who have lied to the public about its consequences.

 

Net Neutrality – Walden Sells Out More Than Just His District — This Time It Was The Whole Country

All Materials published by Motherboard

Wednesday afternoon, 107 Republican members of Congress sent Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai a letter supporting his plan to repeal net neutrality protections ahead of the commission’s Thursday vote. That letter was signed by Greg Walden Chair of the Committee Energy and Commerce and 106 of his fellow Republicans. Amazing how some politicians can be so proud of screwing their constituency and the country. Here is the entire letter:

December 13, 2017

The Honorable Ajit Pai

Chairman: Federal Communications Commission

445 12th Street, S.W.

Washington, DC 20554

Dear Chairman Pai:

We write today in support of the Federal Communications Commission’s plan to restore Internet freedom by reversing the prior Commission’s decision to regulate broadband Internet service under Title II of the Communications Act, a statutory scheme created for the monopoly telephone carriers of a bygone era. This proposal is a major step forward in the effort to clear the way for the substantial investment necessary to advance our internet architecture for the next generation and close the digital divide. When its effects are fully realized, more Americans than ever will experience the benefits of telemedicine, distance learning, streaming video, and future innovations made possible by broadband.

Additionally, we note that under your leadership, the FCC and the American people have enjoyed an unprecedented level of transparency as you work toward this goal. Since March 2017, for the first time in the history of the Commission, you have made every document to be considered at a FCC open meeting available for public review three weeks ahead of the vote. As a result, unlike in previous high profile Commission proceedings, the public has been fully empowered with the actual language of the proposal under consideration. The Commission, therefore, has the benefit of the most informed and complete commentary ever compiled in a net neutrality proceeding.

The record is exhaustive, every viewpoint is well represented, and the time has come for the Commission to act. After broadband is restored to its rightful regulatory home, under the light-touch approach that guided federal oversight of the Internet and nurtured its expansive growth for decades, the stage will be set for Congress to determine how best to enact permanent

Protections for the bipartisan net neutrality principles on which we all agree.

Sincerely,

Greg Walden

Chairman: Committee on Energy and Commerce Sub on Communications and Technology

PS Thank you for the $1,605,986 in campaign contributions. Greg

Opioid Health Crisis – How Did This Happen?

The opioid crisis in America is more than a national crisis. It is a national disgrace. Much of what I have to say here is taken from a story in the October 30, 2017 New Yorker magazine entitled “Empire of Pain” by Patrick Radden Keefe. I suggest you check it out on line, and see if it makes you as angry as it did me. But I want you to do more than just get mad. I want you to help me stop this insanity by supporting my bid for Congress to replace our pharmaceutical bought and paid for congressman.

Did you know there is a Medical Advertising Hall of Fame? In 1997 Arthur Sackler, was inducted into this “Hall of Shame”. The citation read: “for bringing the full power of advertising and promotion to pharmaceutical marketing”. And who may you ask is Dr. Sackler? What did he invent and market that warranted this acclamation? Dr. Sackler was one of three brothers who in 1952 bought a small patent medicine company named Purdue Frederick, known for laxatives and ear wax removal. Dr. Sackler had other businesses as well. He was a medical journal publisher. He had a medical newspaper prescribed to by 600,000 doctors. And he ran a medical advertising company. Purdue initially developed a time released morphine based drug which achieved considerable success. But as its patent was about to expire, Purdue started looking for a drug to replace it. They began looking at Oxycodone, a synthetic opioid developed in 1916. Oxycodone was inexpensive to produce and was already used in other drugs such as Percodan and Percocet. Purdue developed a pill of pure oxycodone with a time release formula. The drug was described in terms of firepower, as a nuclear weapon. Although early focus groups of doctors were highly concerned about the abuse potential of opioids, Dr. Sackler was able to use his publishing businesses to counter the arguments and promote the product.  Dr. Russel Portenoy, a pain specialist at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center spoke out about the wisdom of using opioids to treat chronic pain, describing opioids as a “gift of nature”. Not surprisingly Portenoy who received funding from Purdue, claimed the concerns about addiction and abuse amounted to “medical myth”. In 1997, the American Academy of Pain Society published a statement regarding the use of opioids to treat chronic pain. The statement was written by Dr. David Haddox, also a paid speaker for Purdue. The FDA approved OxyContin in 1995 for use in treating moderate to severe pain. Purdue had conducted no clinical studies on how addictive or prone to abuse the drug might be prior to approval. The FDA, in an unusual step, approved a package insert for OxyContin announcing that the drug was “safer” than its rival painkillers due to its time release mechanism. The FDA examiner who oversaw the process, Dr. Curtis Wright, left the agency shortly afterwards, and two years later went to work for Purdue.

With a thousand sales reps, Purdue went all out to sell OxyContin with the major thrust being the drug is not just for severe pain but, instead for all sorts of pain including backaches, arthritis, sports injuries, etc.. Purdue targeted general practitioners who were not pain specialists. David Kessler, former head of the FDA said from a public health standpoint, the drug should have been marketed to the least amount of patients with the most severe pain. But that approach was at odds with Purdue objectives, which were to do the exact opposite. Sales reps were told to tell doctors the drug is virtually non-addicting. As with most drugs subject to abuse, people could learn how to make them more potent. With OxyContin you did not have to figure out how to make it more potent, Purdue told you how to do it. The warning label that came with the drug told you that taking broken or crushed tablets, or chewing them would lead to rapid release and absorption which could kill you. Abusers ground them up, dissolved them in liquid and injected them, and snorted them. Patients began selling them on the street. Pill mill doctors and clinics over prescribed them. As the epidemic grew, Purdue insisted the only problem was people were not properly following the directions. DUH…

Purdue has been sued thousands of times since the release of OxyContin and defended by such people as Rudolph Giuliani who had tried on Purdue’s behalf to get the lead prosecutor to scuttle one case where three top executives were charged with and plead guilty in Virginia to criminal charges of misbranding with intent to defraud or mislead. The three received probation and were ordered to personally pay $35 million dollars in fines. Purdue agreed to pay an additional $600 million dollars. But remember, they have sold $35 Billion dollars of this drug. They are still way ahead.

Estimates for treating currently addicted people in the US is $50 Billion dollars. On top of that, funds will be needed for education and prevention. The federal government has been slow to react to this crisis. The 2018 Trump budget does little to nothing about the crisis. In reality, it will make it worse. In 2016 Congress passed the 21st Century Cures Act adding $1 Billion dollars over two years. A far cry from the $50 Billion dollars required. As Trump campaigned to “end the opioid epidemic in America” and “spend the money” on drug treatment, there was hope the government would do better. But as we have all come to understand, what Trump says and does, are two different things. The Trump budget proposed a 2% increase of $200 million to $10.6 Billion dollars already spent. However, the 21st Century Cures Act had previously authorized an additional $500 million for 2018. So Trump’s $200 million proposal actually decreases the authorization by $300 million. Let me know if you are surprised. Trump actually REDUCED the budget after campaigning he would increase it.

When you combine the Cures Act reduction with Trump’s proposed cuts to Medicaid, his continued attacks and defunding of the ACA with the ultimate goal of killing it, this national problem will eventually become a national disgrace. Medicaid paid for a quarter, or $7.9 Billion of the projected $31.3 Billion public and private spending for drug treatment in 2014. The 2018 budget is asking for nearly $400 million in cuts to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, hundreds of millions in cuts to mental health block grants, and billions in cuts altogether to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The hope is Trump’s budget proposals are dead on arrival and Congress will put forth its own spending measures. But the bottom line is, don’t expect Trump (with his lead supporter Greg Walden) to do ANYTHING about the opioid crisis in this country.

Ten states have thus far filed suit against Purdue and dozens of counties and cities are going to bring additional suits.  In the meantime, pharmaceutical companies are doing what they do best, making a killing out of the crisis. Naloxone is one of the primary drugs to treat opioid addiction. The price for treatment dosage from Amphastar Pharmaceuticals has risen from $690 in 2014 to $4,500 in 2017, a 500% increase.

Ironically, Dr. Sackler wrote a regular column for the Medical Tribune back around 1980 and one of his targets for misleading and false advertising was the tobacco industry. Tobacco eventually paid $246 Billion dollars to settle the government’s law suit. Let’s hope Purdue eventually earns its just punishment the same way. Forbes estimates the Sackler family receives $700 million dollars a year from the family business and as such, the Sacklers are not going quietly into the night. Between 2006 and 2015, Purdue and other painkiller producers spent nearly $900 million dollars on lobbyist and political contributions, eight times what the gun lobby spent. Did Greg Walden get any of this money? I do not know. What I do know, however, is that health care is Walden’s top contributor, so your guess is as good as mine.

To date Purdue has made $35 Billion dollars from OxyContin. Since 1999, 200,000 people have died from overdoses related to OxyContin and other prescription opioid drugs. The total opioid epidemic is killing an estimated 64,000 Americans a year. That is nearly the same amount who die from the combined deaths in car accidents and guns. Opioid overdose is the leading cause of death in the US for people under 50.  And how are the Sackler family members doing?  With a combined estimated net wealth of $13 Billion dollars, they are wealthier than the Rockefellors or the Mellons. They lead the lavish lifestyle you would expect from billionaires, donating to art museums and funding university buildings with their names firmly planted over the doors. Meanwhile 175 people die every day in the US to support their lifestyle.