Rand Paul wants you to overpay for insulin. Can’t afford it? Tough.

Berry Craig
Berry Craig

Sen. Rand Paul thinks the government has no responsibility to help anybody who needs help.

He’s rich, but believes that if you’re poor, you’re on your own. He believes only white lives matter. He’s anti-science. He’s so fanatically opposed to women’s reproductive freedom that he’s introduced a bill that defines life as beginning at conception. Paul also despises unions.

None of that is news. But this is: Kentucky’s junior senator, who’s seeking a third term on Nov. 8, voted against a $35-per-month cap on out-of-pocket insulin costs for people not on Medicare. The Democrats wanted the limit in their sweeping budget bill, which passed on a straight party line vote — with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie — and is expected to clear the Democratic-majority House.

“The Senate parliamentarian ruled the Democrats’ proposed cap on insulin prices could not be passed via reconciliation,” explained Meteor Blades in Daily Kos. “So Democrats (who voted unanimously for the cap) needed 10 Republican senators to join them to reach the 60-vote tally to overcome a filibuster.”

They only got seven.

Paul is one of a baker’s dozen of Republican senators up for reelection this year “who voted in favor of letting companies continue to price-gouge Americans with outrageous insulin prices,” Blades added. “Even though the odds overwhelmingly favor reelection of these 13 senators, they should be asked at every campaign stop and media interview from now until November why they support ripping off their own constituents.”

Let the bird-dogging begin.

Fewer states have a bigger diabetes problem than Kentucky, which ranked eighth in the nation in adult diabetes. In 2020, 13.1 percent of grownup Kentuckians had the disease which can lead to heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease, blindness, foot and leg amputations, and death.

Diabetes often goes hand-in-hand with poverty. Kentucky is one of the 10 poorest states.

The issue is personal to Democrat Charles Booker, who wants Paul’s job. Booker has diabetes. Diabetics use insulin to control their blood sugar levels.

“As someone who relies on insulin to live, I am disgusted,” he tweeted. The former Louisville state representative added that it’s time to remove all the GOP senators who rejected the cap, “starting right here in Kentucky.

Paul probably thinks he’s got the election in the bag. (Polls show him with a big lead.)

Paul was a no-show at Fancy Farm, evidently figuring he didn’t need to fire up the MAGA faithful with his usual venom and vitriol. (There was plenty of demagoguery from the other Republicans on stage.)

Booker spoke at Fancy Farm, bearding the GOP lion in its den.

But far from the whooping and hollering last Saturday, thousands of Kentuckians or their loved ones are quietly suffering from diabetes. Or they’re diabetes caregivers, or they’ve lost loved ones to the disease.

Paul’s rich, but most of his constituents aren’t – far from it. But instead of giving them a much needed price break for life-preserving medicine, Kentucky’s junior senator flashed the green light to big pharma: Be as greedy as you want.

Greed is the essence of 19th-century Social Darwinism, which holds Paul and almost the entire GOP in thrall. Social Darwinists — rich industrialists and their allies in politics, the press, and the pulpit — extolled unfettered capitalism and the “free market” as all but divinely inspired. If you were wealthy, they argued, it was because you were smart and industrious. If you weren’t, you must be dumb and shiftless. Government should thus stay out of the market and the people-helping business.

Paul first got elected in 2010 by championing the hard-right, nearly all-white Tea Party movement, the forerunner of Trumpism. Both are repackaged Social Darwinism. He even wrote a book titled The Tea Party Goes to Washington.

The Tea Party and Paul ranted against the Affordable Care Act. An anti-ACA sign brandished at a Tea Party rally also captures the spirit of Paul’s opposition to capping insulin costs: “YOUR HEALTH YOUR PROBLEM.”

Since Paul turned thumbs down on the insulin cap, “YOUR VOTE YOUR PROBLEM” would make a dandy sign.

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Berry Craig

Berry Craig is a professor emeritus of history at West KY Community College, and an author of seven books and co-author of two more. (Read the rest on the Contributors page.)

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