There he goes again. President Biden’s launched yet another round of blame-shifting for his 40-year-high inflation.

And he’s pushing Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin for a deal on a skinny Build Back Broker package. Biden, Schumer and other Democrats aim to include drug price controls in whatever BBB may emerge.

Biden has pointed fingers at various economic sectors and blamed them for supposedly causing record-high inflation. Last year, his blame-shifting went big on trustbusting, swinging the antitrust sledgehammer at many major industrial sectors.

Locke’s Notebook recently rebutted the nonsense of blaming oil and gas companies for Biden’s $5 per gallon price for gasoline.

Now Biden’s making more wild leaps of logic, claiming that big-government price controls on pharmaceuticals will tame inflation.

The White House trotted out National Economic Council Director Brian Deese to foist this spin on Face the Nation. What Deese said was economic nonsense.

He asserted that “the single most impactful thing that we could do right now is to . . . pass legislation that would lower the costs of things that families are facing right now like prescription drugs, we could lower the cost of prescription drugs by allowing Medicare to negotiate better prices that would actually lower federal spending, and it would lower the cost that people pay.”

Did you catch that? Deese claims that the one thing that would have the greatest impact on reducing inflation is (1) to pass another multitrillion-dollar taxing-and-spending bill (i.e., BBB) (2) containing government price-setting authority. Truly incredulous.

It’s just political rhetoric. Drug price controls would do nothing to reduce runaway inflation.

American Action Forum’s Douglas Holtz-Eakin nails it: “As a practical matter, it is quite the claim that 100 percent of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation problem will be solved by policy directed toward the 1.392 percent of the CPI that is prescription drugs.”

Make no mistake: Drug price controls won’t lower sky-high inflation.

The environmental zealotry and redistribution of wealth provisions of BBB will impose far greater inflationary costs than any miniscule “savings” from drug price controls.

What’s at stake is government dictating take-it-or-leave-it Medicare pharmaceutical prices to drug companies. This “negotiation” is coupled with a punitive 95 percent tax penalty on any drug whose price rises higher than inflation.

AAF warns, “. . . the most significant implication of the BBBA’s dollar-for-dollar penalties on price increases that exceed the rate of inflation is that, for the first time, the federal government would be unilaterally capping drug prices nationwide, both in federal programs and in the private market.”

Looking for a scapegoat for inflation? The blameworthy ones are President Biden and most of his party in Congress.

Biden-Schumer-Pelosi policies (e.g., massive reregulation, weaponizing federal agencies as tools of wokeness and of a radical Leftist agenda) and their inflationary $1.9 trillion in unnecessary spending in 2021 are a thousand times more to blame for the worst inflation we’ve seen since the Carter years than are prescription drug costs.

Facts and reason won’t stop a spin campaign concocted by a desperate White House. Laughable fictions from the mouths of political mouthpieces will keep coming—though nobody in real America is buying it.

“. . . [T]he idea we’re going to be able . . . to click a switch, bring down the cost of gasoline, is not likely in the near term, nor is it with regard to food,” President Joe Biden said. In other words, “Tough luck, America.”

Pres. Biden recently convened a White House pseudoevent to insist he has no control over gasoline and food prices, nor the other facets of Biden’s inflation-infested economy that's hammering every American.

Can you imagine Ronald Reagan or Franklin Roosevelt, George W. Bush or Harry Truman passing the buck that way? Even poor Jimmy Carter, who presided over the nadir of modern economic performance since the Great Depression until now, didn’t commit that callous faux pas.

Last month in Japan, Pres. Biden had the audacity to speak positively about skyrocketing prices at the pump back home: “[When] it comes to the gas prices, we’re going through an incredible transition that is taking place that . . . when it’s over, we’ll be . . . stronger and less reliant on fossil fuels.”

Does that make you feel better forking over more than $4 for a gallon of gas? Or someday being forced to buy an electric vehicle that takes hours to charge enough to go as far as a tank of gas will take you, while the gas pump takes only a few minutes for a fill-up?

The Hippocratic Oath says “first, do no harm,” but Pres. Biden already has done our nation grave harm. He may not be solely responsible for the 40-year-high 8%-plus annual inflation rate, but Biden has most certainly thrown gasoline to intensify the inflation fire. An appreciable portion of the “tax” of inflation emptying Americans’ pocketbooks is attributable to the Biden administration’s deliberate economic and regulatory radicalism.

Biden has spurred gas prices' spiking. From his first day in office, when he canceled the Keystone XL pipeline and slapped a freeze on oil and gas leases on federal property, he’s acted to stifle the life out of U.S. fossil fuel companies. He also unleashed regulators to hamper every industry with red tape and antitrust enforcers to swing their dangerous sledgehammers.

A methane tax plan, Securities & Exchange Commission climate regulatory burdens, siccing the radicalized Federal Trade Commission on oil and gas companies to trump up “price gouging” claims, manipulating regulatory estimates for an inflated "social cost of greenhouse gas emissions,” a massive federal land grab called 30 x 30.

These are some of the Biden tentacles intended to strangle established U.S. industries that extract, transport, process and distribute oil, natural gas, gasoline and diesel—abundant natural resources they put to practical usage throughout our nation and our economy, and that in the span of the Trump years made America energy-independent for the first time in decades.

While Biden chokes the neck of our oil and gas sector, the U.S. president begs the likes of the OPEC cartel and socialist Venezuela to boost crude oil pumping. Pres. Biden’s creating jobs—just not in the United States. He’d do better by aiming to create new U.S. oil refinery jobs.

Don’t forget Biden’s inflation installment payment, his early 2021 $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan.” It slopped trillions more on top of multitrillion dollar spending bills (at least the earlier packages had the virtue of coming during the actual COVID-inflicted economic downturn and public health response). The Biden measure doled out money to middle class families and individuals, schools, and state and local governments—but less than 9% on COVID pandemic measures.

And there’s the Fed inflation factory, printing fiat money by the trillion. The Wall Street Journal called this “the fad of Modern Monetary Theory that low interest rates could finance any amount of government spending more or less forever.” It appears that theory ran into the wall of reality, judging by the epochal, rising inflation rate, now joined by rising interest rates. Stagflation may be around the corner.

Riffing on the Hippocratic Oath, then, Pres. Biden should “second, undo the harm you’ve caused.” Retracting all of the above would be a good first step.

House Republicans have begun rolling out proposals from their Healthy Future Task Force.

The policy initiatives from the Treatments Subcommittee promote medical innovation, expedite patient access to new drugs and devices, bolster U.S. medical manufacturing, shorten and shore up reliable supply chains, and reduce patients’ drug costs.

Among other things, Medicare beneficiaries would gain an out-of-pocket cap on their drug spending. They’d spread out drug costs over a year. Seniors would share drug discounts at the pharmacy, once health plan incentives align to share their privately agreed-upon savings.

The GOP task force’s health policy efforts build on existing legislation, such as H.R. 19. They’re further developed from a market-based, proinnovation, private-sector-oriented, consumer choice and competition perspective.

In other words, the healthy future House Republicans envision stands in stark contrast to the Biden administration’s big-government, overly regulatory, punitive, restrictive, price-controls approach to health care—well, Biden’s, Pelosi’s and Schumer’s approach to everything!

One of the Republican proposals would block the use of a cruel tool of socialized health systems. Budget-fixated government bureaucrats use QALYs to rationalize denying needed medical treatment to patients in the most need.

The inhumane cruelty that governments' medical-rationing decisions are based on is “quality adjusted life years.” In English, that means if you’re too old, too young or too sick, health system bureaucrats tell you to “drop dead,” literally.

Canadian, European and other government-controlled health systems set artificially low prices on medical goods and services. These socialist medical systems then ration access to medical care as a means of coldly denying medicines and treatments that could cure, heal or protect patients in need.

The United States has seen similar playing of God by the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, or ICER. One critic observes, “The greatest flaw by far in the QALY methodology is the subjective threshold value attached to a year of perfect health.”

Similarly, inhumane bureaucrats employ the fraud of “comparative effectiveness.” This means if there’s a drug or device available for a condition or disease, a new one must be comparably priced and deliver vastly stronger clinical results—despite the fact that a new entrant causes competition. Bureaucrats aren’t above manipulating clinical data to get the results they want for budget targets.

Energy & Commerce Ranking Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers has introduced the Protecting Health Care for All Patients Act. This bill would prohibit use of QALYs in any federal health program.

Why’s that important? Take a young couple expecting a baby being told of underdevelopment of the fetus’s brain. Doctors don’t know if the baby will survive very long after birth, be responsive or display personality. The brave, loving parents have the baby, who requires several surgeries. A birthday later, that loved child smiles, vocalizes responses, touches sensibly—in short, brings joy to a home that didn’t know what life might be like. Whatever the outcome, they have a precious human being who bears God’s image.

Government discrimination against medically vulnerable citizens may save money, but it morally and qualitatively impoverishes a nation and its people. That’s much too costly.

As P.J. O'Rourke said, “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free.” Barring QALYs, price controls and rigid “comparative effectiveness” metrics from U.S. coverage and access decisions would ensure patients, doctors and innovation hold priority over number-crunching budgeteers.

If American voters turn Congress over to Republicans this fall, the new majority will be prepared with sound, constructive health policies that put patients ahead of unelected government bureaucrats, protect innovation and respect private property rights.

Locke's Notebook

Vintage Maps 3