In an amusing perhaps reversal of the usual rhetoric from ads in the 2020 elections, Trump found himself being accused of advancing some kind of socialism, at least if AP's summary of the rhetoric surrounding the new regulations on drug prices is correct:

Trump administration issued regulations Friday that could lower the prices Americans pay for many prescription drugs. [...] rules, long in the making, would: Tie what Medicare pays for medications administered in a doctor’s office to the lowest price paid among a group of other economically advanced countries. That’s called the “most favored nations” approach. It is adamantly opposed by critics aligned with the pharmaceutical industry who liken it to socialism.

Actually, AP seems to be correct, a KHN story from 2019 has more details:

“The Department of Health and Human Services is considering a plan to adopt socialist price controls from foreign countries.” -- Americans for Tax Reform televised ad

The Americans for Tax Reform’s ad begins with President Donald Trump saying, “America will never be a socialist country.”

It then quickly pivots to take aim at the administration.

“You’re right, Mr. President,” the ad continues. “But the Department of Health and Human Services is considering a plan to adopt socialist price controls from foreign countries.”

And KHN says it contacted Americans for Tax Reform for verification/details:

We contacted Americans for Tax Reform to find out the basis for this claim. John Kartch, a spokesman, said “price controls themselves are socialist” and argued that they constitute a “fundamental building block of state control of the economy.”

The KHN story says that "independent experts we spoke to said this characterization, while politically powerful, is misleading", followed by some quotes from the experts they interviewed, but doesn't have any reaction more directly coming from Trump's administration.

In a more recent story (Oct 2020) on Inside Sources, the accusation is repeated and even linked to a Pelosi initiative; this time the accusation is more specific (last sentence), basically as socialism by linking US prices to "other countries’ socialist schemes":

Addressing healthcare at the State of the Union Address in February, President Trump drew a bright, and worthy, line in the sand. “We will never let socialism destroy American healthcare,” he said.


The notion behind government price controls, that politicians can simply bend the laws of supply and demand to their political will, is not new, certainly not in the healthcare industry.

In the current domestic debate, the push for an “international price index” gained momentum last year as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi drafted a Democrat bill.

Given the nature of the proposed regulations, the countries listed on the index will certainly have their own government mandated price ceilings. That means that the U.S. will in effect import other countries’ socialist schemes to prop up our own.

There are no other viewpoints presented in this latter story.

Almost identically, a Sep 2020 press article originating from the National Center for Public Policy Research says

Trump recently introduced four new executive orders. The final executive order is a catastrophically irresponsible scheme that threatens to destroy American’s access to drugs and prevent the development of life-saving new medicines.

The executive order uses communist-style government price controls to bind the price of some prescription drugs to the cost of medicines in countries with socialist health care systems.

Even the quasi-official lobby of the US pharmaceutical industry touched on the word polemic:

PhRMA President and CEO Stephen J. Ubl said Trump was opening the country up for socialized health care. Ubl called the changes to drug prices “a radical and dangerous policy to set prices based on rates paid in countries that he has labeled as socialist, which will harm patients today and into the future.”

So, has Trump or his administration offered any specific rebuttals why the measures they envisaged are not (related to) socialism?

  • 3
    I suspect that the answer is "made lots of other controversial statements about other things that distracted attention from the regulations" mixed in with "Republicans were affair to disagree with Trump and they are the only ones would would complain," but I don't have first hand knowledge that this is the case. Doesn't seem like a worthwhile question to ask.
    – ohwilleke
    Nov 24, 2020 at 0:54
  • 1
    @ohwilleke - I think it is worthwhile to address this question. Even if Trump has not said something wacky about it, in his initial comments, he (or his speechwriter) came very close to addressing exactly this point: "In case after case, our citizens pay massively higher prices than other nations pay for the same exact pill, from the same factory, effectively subsidizing socialism aboard [abroad] with skyrocketing prices at home." So his argument, unsurprisingly, seems to be that the real socialism is Americans paying high drug prices. I am sure his surrogates have said a whole lot more.
    – Obie 2.0
    Nov 24, 2020 at 1:32
  • @MikeTheLiar I'm no sure exactly what you mean. Could you elabrate?
    – user29681
    Nov 24, 2020 at 2:24
  • 1
    It's a little bit weird to be debating whether having a government funded program that gives people free/reduced cost medicine push for lower prices is socialist.Seems like that ship has sailed. Nov 24, 2020 at 2:44
  • @Acccumulation it's also weird in the sense that patents are a form of government regulation that allow the pharmaceutical companies to charge such high prices without competition in the first place. It's almost like the government is regulating it's own regulation.
    – Brett
    Nov 24, 2020 at 3:01

1 Answer 1


Well, this isn't very elaborate, but Politico quoted a quip from a Trump speech at the RNC:

"The only thing I have with socialism is I want to get their price," Trump said during the Republican National Convention Monday.

or with more context as quoted by WSJ:

now what they're doing is they have ads, millions and millions of dollars' worth of ads that I've been horrible to the people because of drugs and I believe in socialism, socialism. You know why? Because some of the socialistic countries get the lowest price. So, the only thing I have with socialism is I want to get their price, okay. That's the only thing. Other than that other than that is our country will never be a socialist country. Right? So, we cut drug prices and you could get cuts you could get cuts


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