Today, the House Oversight Committee is holding an important hearing entitled "The Role of Pharmacy…
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House Hearing Spotlights Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) as Drivers of Higher Drug Prices

Today, the House Oversight Committee is holding an important hearing entitled "The Role of Pharmacy Benefit Managers in Prescription Drug Markets Part III:  Transparency and Accountability."

For those unfamiliar, Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) amount to middlemen that control prescription drugs for millions of Americans.  A majority of Americans receive health insurance through employer plans or government programs such as Medicare, which in turn cover prescription drugs through PBMs.  Those PBMs negotiate with drug companies and pay pharmacies, but throughout the process determine the drugs that insured patients may obtain and at what cost.

The problem is that PBMs operate in such an opaque and complex manner that they're able to inflate drug costs while claiming to be working…[more]

July 23, 2024 • 04:57 PM

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Biden DOJ Lawsuit Against Live Nation-Ticketmaster Reveals Its Desperation Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, May 30 2024
Live Nation’s net profit over the recent fiscal year hovered around 1%. That’s hardly the sort of margin that one might expect from a monopoly meriting the sort of persecution that Biden’s DOJ now directs its way.

With Memorial Day now behind us and November’s presidential election increasingly within view, electoral trends are becoming increasingly obvious and Joe Biden’s desperation increasingly transparent.  

Biden hasn’t led Donald Trump in the RealClearPolitics aggregate of polls in nearly nine months, since September 10, 2023.  

In some instances, Biden’s desperate maneuvers provide relatively harmless if tacky humor, as we witnessed this week when he dispatched unhinged actor Robert DeNiro as his proxy outside the New York courthouse where Trump’s trial is taking place.  

In other instances, however, Biden’s increasingly desperate maneuvers pose real danger for American consumers and the economy.  

Last week we witnessed the latter sort of example when Biden’s Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it was suing to break up entertainment company Live Nation-Ticketmaster.  

If at this point you could swear that the DOJ blessed the same Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger it now seeks to unravel not long ago, you’re correct.  In its infinite wisdom, however, Biden’s DOJ has decided that there’s no time to waste in reversing course.  

Actually, wisdom has nothing to do with it.  At this point the Biden administration is throwing everything against the proverbial wall in the hope that something, anything, finally sticks.  

The most ironic dynamic at play here is the fact that this sort of heavy-handed administrative action by the Biden administration is what has created economic volatility, which in turn remains the leading reason for Biden’s unprecedented unpopularity and electoral desperation.  

As one illustration of the baselessness of this latest lawsuit, Ticketmaster’s market share has measurably declined in the years since the DOJ originally blessed its merger with Live Nation, from approximately 80% to under 70% today.  Market competition has therefore increased during the lifetime of Live Nation-Ticketmaster, yet now the Biden administration decides that it’s time to inject its trademark volatility and disruption into the market?  

Here’s another metric demonstrating the absurdity of the DOJ’s latest crusade.  Far from standing as some sort of mega-profitable market titan, Live Nation’s net profit over the recent fiscal year hovered around 1%.  That’s hardly the sort of margin that one might expect from a monopoly meriting the sort of persecution that Biden’s DOJ now directs its way.  For comparison, the net profit margin for Meta (Facebook) was 29.8%, while Apple’s was 25.3% and Alphabet (Google) claimed a 24% margin.  

For anyone with a working knowledge of the entertainment industry and live event economics, those profit margin realities will come as no surprise.  That’s because contrary to the popular misconception of ticketing companies like Live Nation-Ticketmaster hoarding dollars, the gross receipts from tickets sold are divided between the performing artists themselves, promoters’ fees, the hosting venues, shared show costs and then the ticketing companies themselves.   According to Live Nation-Ticketmaster, for a typical $100 face value arena ticket, the performing artists claim $65, with $28 going to shared show costs and $7 to promoters.  After that, another $23 goes to the hosting venue, with a comparatively minor $7 going to the ticketing company.   

Those market realities are among the reasons why the DOJ’s lawsuit should be rejected in court.  The Biden administration has suffered an embarrassing string of court defeats in similar suits, particularly when brought by the DOJ and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) under radical activist chair Lina Khan.  If the popular definition of “insanity” is repeating the same fruitless behavior while expecting a different result, the activist Biden administration offers the best illustration of that adage in recent memory.  

More broadly, ticketing companies like Live Nation-Ticketmaster serve an important market purpose by protecting performing artists’ right to choose how tickets to their own performances are sold.  Namely, they help guarantee that everyday fans get to actually see their favorite artists perform, as opposed to other brokers hoarding tickets for resale at inflated premiums to high-dollar corporate buyers.  

That’s of little import to the Biden administration, however.  While it claims to be looking out for the little guy in this transparent attempt to gain some sort of electoral traction, everyday fans will suffer the most to the extent that Live Nation-Ticketmaster is impacted by the DOJ’s misguided lawsuit.  

Judicial resources and litigation costs shouldn’t be wasted simply because the Biden administration refuses to learn the repeated lessons of its accumulating legal rebukes.  We can at least be thankful, however, that the judicial branch continues to provide that critical bulwark.

Notable Quote   
 
"The astonishing political events of the last four weeks make plain, once again, how much of America's history depends on what voters have come to accept as the choice of one person: each presidential nominee's choice of a vice presidential candidate. Even as the nomination process was expanded, half a century ago, to include millions of primary voters, the choice of the vice presidential nominee…[more]
 
 
— Michael Barone, Senior Political Analyst for the Washington Examiner and Longtime Co-Author of The Almanac of American Politics
 
Liberty Poll   

Should Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle be fired for the agency's unconscionable failures regarding the assassination attempt on President Trump?