The House Republican Conference details the muddy waters of the relationship between the White House and ‘Big Pharma’
August is normally a fairly sleepy time with regard to politics. I know that I was looking foward to a bit of a break here at America’s Right before school began again, but this year was different — a welcome change. I found myself wondering if elected officials like Charlie Rangel ever found time to relax. I hope not.
This particular August recess has done wonders not only to make Democrats in the House and Senate aware of the opposition to plans to socialize health care, but also to wake up and light a fire beneath Republicans as well. I, for one, am hoping that the rising tide of concerned Americans becoming involved in the legislative process will be the catalyst for a Republican Party that suddenly remembers and adheres to its conservative roots.
The House GOP Conference has been doing an incredible job in putting the health care debate into perspective, just as it had done with the debate over cap-and-trade. Today, the conference released the following statement, detailing in the Democrats’ own words the shift and inherent hypocrisy of the White House’s attitude toward the pharmaceutical industry:
“I’m appalled by the deal the White House has made with the pharmaceutical industry’s lobbying arm to buy their support..When an industry gets secret concessions out of the White House in return for a promise to lend the industry’s support to a key piece of legislation, we’re in big trouble. That’s called extortion.” –Former Clinton Administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich, blog posting, August 9, 2009
Even as he campaigned on a platform of change and transparency, an examination of Barack Obama’s comments during the election–and his actions since taking office–indicates that on both politics and policy, the President has changed his tune on numerous issues of relevance to the pharmaceutical industry-perhaps as a result of up to $150 million in drug industry-funded advertisements supporting his government takeover of health care:
Then: “We’ll take on the drug and insurance companies and hold them accountable for the prices they charge and the harm they cause.” — Barack Obama, speech in Newport News, Virginia, October 4, 2008
Now: “We were assured: ‘We need somebody to come in first. If you come in first, you will have a rock-solid deal.’”
– PhRMA head Billy Tauzin, discussing his negotiations with the White House, New York Times, August 5, 2009
Then: “I urge [my opponent] to stop siding with the drug manufacturers and put aside his opposition to the re-importation of lower-priced prescription drugs from Canada.” — Barack Obama, Senate campaign, press release, May 21, 2004
Now: “On July 7, Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Obama’s chief of staff.assured at least five pharmaceutical companies during a White House meeting that there would be no provision in the final health care package to allow the re-importation of cheaper drugs from Canada or elsewhere.” — New York Times, July 23, 2009
Then: “And we’ll tell the pharmaceutical companies, thanks but no thanks for the overpriced drugs-drugs that cost twice as much here as they do in Europe and Canada. We’ll let Medicare negotiate for lower prices.” — Barack Obama, speech in Newport News, Virginia, October 4, 2008
Now: “The White House.clarified its commitment to a behind-the-scenes deal..[that] would limit the drug makers’ share of the cost of a health care overhaul.without imposing other savings.like the government’s negotiation of prices for the drugs it buys under Medicare.” — New York Times, August 7, 2009
Across the nation, Democrats are likely breathing a sigh of relief as they prepare to leave the turbulent waters of their individual states and constituencies for the tranquil bubble of Capitol Hill. My hope is that their Republican counterparts will embrace the momentum from people like you and like me at home, and continue to hammer the Democrats until the dragon which is Obamacare is officially slain.
Hypocrisy is a killer, politically speaking. Just ask John Kerry, who in 2004 was assailed for being practically for his own breakfast each morning before he voted against it. Nobody likes a liar, and nobody likes a hypocrite — and, on this health care debate, the right amount of pressure from congressional Republicans can expose this administration and the Democrats in control on Capitol Hill as both.