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U.S. Chamber comes to Duluth to endorse Grams

High prices for prescription drugs and the soaring cost of gas were addressed by Sen. Rod Grams in a Duluth appearance Friday. He was optimistic about passing a quick remedy for seniors facing steep prescription prices, but offered no immediate h...

High prices for prescription drugs and the soaring cost of gas were addressed by Sen. Rod Grams in a Duluth appearance Friday.
He was optimistic about passing a quick remedy for seniors facing steep prescription prices, but offered no immediate hope for motorists.
Grams was in Duluth to accept the endorsement from the United States Chamber of Commerce, which is backing his bid for re-election in the upcoming Minnesota Senate race.
At the same time in Rochester, the DFL was starting the process that would endorse someone to challenge him this fall.
The U.S. Chamber endorses candidates who have demonstrated support for business and will work to advance a pro-business agenda in Congress.
"Rod Grams has achieved a 91 percent pro-business voting record on key business issues," said Lonnie Taylor, the Chamber's senior vice president. "He is keenly aware how his decisions in Washington will affect employers and employees in small and large businesses in both Minnesota and around the country."
* "We're going to pass prescription drug legislation this year," said Grams. "We don't want to go with the president's proposal."
He said there are a large number of elderly who need this help, and it is not equitable for Americans to be paying for all the research and development costs for drugs while other countries get the benefits of lower prices.
"We do not want people thinking that Canada has a better health care system," Grams said. "They do not."
The senator favors providing prescription drug benefits for Medicare users. Last year he introduced a bill creating a schedule of drug benefits based on income. Medicare would pay up to 75 percent of prescription costs for seniors at the low end. Seniors above that income level would have a monthly deductible of $150. For amounts over that Medicare would pay 75 percent of the prescription cost.
* Grams doesn't seen any immediate action at the federal level on rising pump prices.
Instead, he blamed the lack of a national energy policy for the current situation.
Grams said the energy department was created as a result of the 1973 gas shortage but hasn't addressed the issue, and the country is now importing 65 percent more oil than it was back then.
"We're more dependent on foreign energy than ever before," he said. "We need to encourage exploration."
Grams also gave his views on business regulations, Social Security and taxes, areas which he said still need a lot of work.
His plan to replace Social Security with a personal retirement account system is expected to be a major campaign issue this fall. The proposal would allow workers to design their own investment fueled retirement plans.
The senator has also come out against a recent decision by the National Park Service to ban snowmobiles from national parks.

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