Koch-linked dark money group accuses Grassley of promoting socialism

The American Future Fund is running ads suggesting that a bipartisan bill to reduce Medicare prescription costs would mean no cure for cancer and Alzheimer's.

Senate Finance Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) is proposing a bipartisan bill to reduce pharmaceutical prices. The American Future Fund thinks this is socialism.
Senate Finance Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) is proposing a bipartisan bill to reduce pharmaceutical prices. The American Future Fund thinks this is socialism. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A conservative dark money group has launched a series of radio ads attacking a bipartisan bill authored by the senior Republican in the United States Senate, Iowa’s Chuck Grassley.

Joining in the right’s “everything we don’t like is socialism” parade, the group suggests that by reducing the amount senior citizens and government insurance programs pay for prescription drugs, the bill is a socialistic plot that would stop pharmaceutical companies from curing disease.

The ads, posted online Wednesday, come from a shadowy right-wing attack group called American Future Fund. While the tax-exempt organization does not disclose its funders, its original seed money reportedly came from a wealthy Iowa ethanol executive and it has received significant contributions from organizations linked to petrochemical billionaires Charles and David Koch.

Each ad is a 60-second radio hit purportedly saying “thank you” to Republican senators who opposed the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act (PDPRA) of 2019.


The spots thank Sens. Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) for their committee votes against the bill. They praise each for having “voted to protect seniors from arbitrary government price controls on Medicare Part D.”

“Government price controls would slow research and development of new drugs, delaying progress on cures for diseases, like cancer and Alzheimer’s, and making them more expensive,” the narrator claims. The listeners are urged to call their senator to thank them “for defending free-market principles” and to urge them “to continue to oppose socialist price controls.”

The argument, it would appear, is that by paying less money to drug companies, the drug companies will have less money to research new medicines. Taken to its logical extreme, if the government offered to triple what it pays for medications, drug companies would develop even more cures.

The bill contains a variety of provisions changing the way Medicare and Medicaid pay for prescription drugs.

Grassley has promised it will reduce costs by billions for the government and beneficiaries of Medicare and Medicaid, and would also lower prescription drug costs for people covered by private insurance. While the bill has earned praise from consumer groups, it was a blow to the pharmaceutical industry.


The “chairman’s mark” of the PDPRA, backed by both Senate Finance Committee Chairman Grassley and his ranking Democratic member, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, was passed out of committee on an 19 to 9 vote.

By voting no, Crapo and Toomey won not just the gratitude of the American Future Fund — whoever they are  — but radio ads suggesting that this vote makes them heroes.