Sen. Baldwin visits Marshfield
By Travis Rogers Jr.
MARSHFIELD — United States Sen. Tammy Baldwin made a stop in Marshfield Aug. 11, capping off five days of meet-and-greets.
The gathering at the home of a Marshfield supporter was the last stop of this leg of the senator’s busy recess for her and her staff. Michael Woicekowski, Baldwin’s Wisconsin finance director, said that they would then take a break for a few days before resuming their long trek north to and from Madeline Island.
After 30 minutes of shaking hands and listening to concerns, Baldwin addressed the full house of nearly 75 people.
“Washington right now is just a cacophony of noise. The shout fests on cable television and the bickering that gets us nowhere create a noise and a chaos that keeps us from facing the issues that are important to us in Wisconsin. Washington is just fighting and not fighting for anything in particular,” Baldwin said.
The senator addressed a number of problems that affect Wisconsin that the U.S. government has ignored or even supported.
“The drug industry is getting away with a lot at a time when we should be reining them in. I don’t know if any of you have a loved one with a severe allergy or if you have one yourself, but the cost of EpiPens has increased dramatically. Last summer, one pack of two EpiPens shot up to $600 per pack. Schools request that students with severe allergies have an EpiPen in the school office, and parents cannot afford $600. … I remember when parents complained about the $100 cost a very few years ago,” said Baldwin.
Another crisis she named was the cost of naloxone, which is used to reverse the effects of opioid overdoses.
“Naloxone used to be $700 per dose and now is $4,500 per dose. Think about the communities that are trying to get drugs like this into squad cars and first responders, and we’re all paying for it. The drug companies are doing it simply because they can and because Washington has not stepped up to address the problem. I introduced a bill with my colleague Sen. John McCain — so it’s a bipartisan bill — called the Drug Fairness Act. That bill requires that if a company increases the cost of a drug more than 10 percent or more, they have to come in and present information on how much they spend on marketing, CEO pay, and stock buy-backs. … They must justify this because right now they’re getting away with it.”
The second example of “people getting away with it” Baldwin addressed was activist hedge funds.
She told of the village of Brokaw, nine miles north of Wausau. The paper mill there had been in operation for over 100 years and was owned by Wausau Paper Co. A New York activist hedge fund had bought enough shares to take control, closed the mill, and then sold it off for profit. Brokaw is on the verge of bankruptcy as a result.
What can we do? “Focus on real issues, and ignore all the noise in Washington,” Baldwin answered. “Grassroots activism is the key.”