The Misleading Ad Campaign Against Chuck Grassley

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

With just weeks left until election day, two election forecasters have downgraded Sen. Chuck Grassley’s race from “safe” or “solid” Republican to “likely” Republican.


That still means that Grassley will almost assuredly win, but there is still a worry the race may get tighter with a misleading and dishonest attack ad his opponent, Mike Franken, is running against him.

Currently, Grassley leads Franken by just three points according to top Iowa pollster Ann Selzer. This comes as Franken is running the ad against Grassley in which he hits him for writing “the law making it illegal for Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices.” The Franken for Senate campaign site doesn’t stipulate what law it’s referring to, however, nor include any research to validate the claims of the ad.

Presumably, it refers to the 2003 law creating Medicare Part D, of which Grassley was an original co-sponsor. The ad might be true insofar as its narrow claim is concerned but ads can be true and at the same time very misleading, as is the case here, where the impression is given that Grassley doesn’t care about high drug prices or hasn’t been working to combat them. In reality, he’s been the Republican senator who’s arguably done the most to aggressively combat them.

Chuck Grassley (AP/Reuters Feed Library)

A few points worth noting on this front.

First, Grassley sided with former President Trump, as opposed to GOP members who are more Big Pharma-aligned, on drug pricing matters. Trump made targeting Big Pharma over high drug prices a centerpiece of his 2016 campaign and a lot of his governance during his one term in office, much to the chagrin of more establishment-leaning Republicans. Trump was one of the original champions of drug price negotiation.

Second, as far back as 2019, Grassley has been working not merely to allow the government to negotiate drug prices, but to actually require drug discounts from drug companies. He even introduced legislation on this front and got it moved out of committee.

Grassley has also been a staunch supporter of the 340B drug discount program which essentially requires drug companies making money off of taxpayer-funded entitlements to sell drugs at a discount to providers who treat poorer populations—including a ton who focus on serving rural, working-class patients in deep red states. He has been one of the main members of Congress pushing for the Department of Health and Human Services to hold drug companies accountable where they have been limiting those discounts in order to boost profit margins and stop them from doing it.


340B, Good Rx, and Mark Cuban are currently Americans’ only real pathways to getting cheaper drugs.

It’s true, Grassley did not vote for the so-called Inflation Reduction Act, which contained a pretty narrow drug price negotiation provision plus a ton of new government spending (too bitter a pill to swallow also for fellow Senator Mitt Romney who is far less of a fiscal hawk and has also shown interest in work to force down drug prices). And he did sponsor the 2003 law.

But this feels like a pretty disingenuous attack by Franken on Grassley that ignores the overwhelming majority of his record where drug prices are concerned to focus on a single act about 20 years ago to help viewers reach a conclusion that is overall false and inaccurate. Hopefully, Iowans will see through it.


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