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File this under: Should be a Veep Plot But Alas, Reality Again. Today the House Oversight Committee held a hearing on the extremely high price of the HIV prevention drug Truvada and the profits that the drug’s maker, Gilead, is reaping their patent-protected product. Truvada, which according to the drugmaker reduces risk of HIV infection by 92% to 99% when taken daily by HIV-negative people, currently costs $2,100 per month. The committee heard testimony from doctors, patient advocates, and Daniel O’Day, the Chairman and CEO of Gilead. During the testimony of the latter, Rep. Katie Hill questioned the CEO about company’s revenue, which she quoted at $22 billion in 2018, and the compensation of its highest-ranking executives. O’Day confirmed that he had just taken his current job with a signing bonus of $30 million. For signing his name! Is he a field goal kicker for the Buffalo Bills? Just wondering.
Hill continued questioning O’Day about other salaries, signing bonuses, and “golden parachutes.” Her point was that while Gilead can do whatever it wants with its profits, those profits are generated by charging high prices for drugs that were developed using federal funding so perhaps the people should have a say. Well, honey, that was a bridge too far for Texas congressman Chip Roy who launched into what scientists are calling an emotional meltdown worthy of a guest star Emmy.
Now you may say, what’s wrong with having a huge emotional response to the fact that a small number of drug executives are making more than most of the cast of Avengers: End Game made? Oh, because Roy was arguing in defense of that most maligned of social groups: Profits.
“I’m really glad they [made a lot of money]!” he exclaimed, already heated. “And I hope they make a lot more!” This is like the climactic Samuel L. Jackson speech in A Time To Kill except utterly dystopian.
The freshman congressman, who also was the ghostwriter of a book by Rick Perry entitled Fed Up!, continued, “To sit here an attack the capitalistic system that produces and distributes medicine that is saving lives around the world? I mean it is just offensive.” I’d like to take this moment to remind you that this is a comment in response to a congressperson asking a multi-millionaire how much he made.
Roy is over here acting like a band of preventative drug-loving anarchists just stormed the hearing room and ripped everyone’s pricey suits asunder. Roy’s like, “Let them eat cake. No, seriously. I mean that sincerely. Let them eat the most expensive, on trend, fondant-covered, metallic-icinged, air-brushed, architectural, geode-looking cake. AMERICA!”
He turned to the other congresspeople in his committee dramatically, after his opening declaration at the Robber Baron Rights March. You can’t see the other representatives in the shot but I hope AOC was sitting there mouthing to him, “Mama, this is garbage.”
Roy continued, “I hope you make a lot of money!… How much cash on hand does Apple have? $245 billion. How much has Apple done to go cure health?” Congratulations to Chip Roy, whose malapropism is now the cornerstone of the Republican party platform. “America 2020: Let’s get rid of the scourge of health.” They’re already hellbent on decimating women’s health, why stop there? Cure all health. Cake for the corpses!
Roy then launched into an extended Apple commercial that Tim Cook definitely did not ask for. He lifted his iPad in the air and said, “It is a good thing that Apple makes a crap ton of money making these things.” Stitch that on a pillow. The image of a sitting congressman waving an iPad while screaming about his love of money-making like Opposite Day Marius is too much. I gotta go watch Les Mis to cheer up.
Honestly this performance (and, oh yes, it is a performance) is a thing of dystopian beauty. This guy really used his time on the mic to rail against the scourge of very rich people being slightly less rich. True entertainment. I look at this video and I just imagine Scrooge McDuck sitting up there in the hearing, quacking furiously and banging his little hand-wings on the table while gold doubloons spill out of his pockets at a truly alarming rate. This is what I want from our government: a total lack of self-awareness, high farce, and more rights for the extremely wealthy. Oh! Gotta go! Cake is out of the oven; must get to it before the ravening hoards! AMERICA!