Senator Al Franken starts out his questioning of President Trump’s nominee for the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Rep Tom Price, by pretending to be a nice guy comedian. It’s a disarming tactic we’ve seen him use before that includes asking the nominee if they enjoyed meeting him. Of course nobody tells the truth, they always claim they did and Price is no exception.
From the outset the line of questioning is intended to portray Rep Price, who is also a medical doctor, as a hypocrite, with the issue of cigarette companies being the tool. Franken asks, “Dr. Price what is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States? The answer provided by Franken because the nominee was uncertain was cigarette smoking. Dr. Price still interacts with Franken as if they’re on friendly terms, telling him how he lost his dad to cancer, as a smoker of Lucky Strike non-filtered.
Franken continues to set the trap, saying, citing a statistic of 480,000 death per year due to smoking, at a cost of $170 billion per year for healthcare. The spider, Al Franken, then turns on his prey, saying, “and yet, between 1993 and 2012 you were a shareholder of tobacco, of big tobacco companies. Meaning that you personally benefited from tobacco sales. Meanwhile you voted against landmark legislation in 2009 that gave the FDA authority to regulate tobacco.”
He says, “Congressman Price, you’re a physician which means you took the Hippocratic oath, a pledge to do no harm. How do you square reaping personal financial gain from the sales of an addictive product that kills millions of Americans every decade with also voting against measures to reduce the death toll inflicted by tobacco?
Rep Price calls it an interesting question and a curious observation, stating that he has no idea what stocks he held in the ’90s or the 2000s or even now. “All of these decisions for all of us, I suspect, are through mutual funds and through pension plans.” He says, “I would suspect that there are components of that that are held that may have something to do in sometime in your history with tobacco.”
Franken responds, basically calling the Representative a liar, saying, “I find it very hard to believe that you did not know that you had tobacco stocks. I find it a little hard to believe that in the questions about your stock portfolio you’ve said that you didn’t know things…”
Franken is about to have his upturned liberal nose rubbed in it. Senator Johnny Isakson, comes to the rescue, having apparently had a staffer do a little checking on Franken’s investments, saying, “It is very important for us all to understand that under the disclosure rules that we have and the way it operates, any of us could have made the mistakes that are being alleged. I’ sure Senator Franken had no idea that he owned part of Phillip Morris when he made the statement that he made about tobacco companies but he has a wisdom tree equity income fund investment, it’s disclosed in his disclosure, which owns Phillip Morris.”
Issakson adds, “So it’s entirely possible for any of us to have somebody make an investment on our behalf and us not know where that money is invested because of the very way it works. I don’t say that to in any way embarrass Mr. Franken but to make a point that any of us who have mutual funds or investment managers, people who do that, it’s entirely possible for us not to know. And to try and imply that somebody is being obfuscating something or otherwise denying something that’s a fact is just not the fair thing to do and I just wanted to make that point. Franken wipes a clear spot around his mouth so he can reply, saying, “This is different than mutual funds.” Issakson responds, “It’s an investment with Phillip Morris.”
Fauxcohontas, sensing an opening where nobody else might be talking, starts running her mouth again and is quickly shut down by the chairman. Now the question for you, Mr. Franken, did you enjoy meeting Senator Issakson?
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