My first question is, is the memo authentic? Because this is really explosive:
A memo obtained by the Huffington Post confirms that the White House and the pharmaceutical lobby secretly agreed to precisely the sort of wide-ranging deal that both parties have been denying over the past week.
The memo, which according to a knowledgeable health care lobbyist was prepared by a person directly involved in the negotiations, lists exactly what the White House gave up, and what it got in return.
As the HuffPo points out,
the deal seemed to be a betrayal of several promises made by then-Sen. Obama during the presidential campaign, among them that he would use the power of government to drive down the costs of drugs to Medicare and that negotiations would be conducted in the open.
Oh look Obama changed his mind, if the memo is authentic.
An understanding between the White House and PhRMA has been the topic of some debate. The $80 billion figure has been out there, and The New York Times reported August 5 that an agreement had been reached.
But earlier this week, President Obama suggested that “now, we may be able to get even more than that,” referring to the promised $80 billion in savings pledged by the drug industry. Was there a binding agreement, or just a savings pledge?
Ace notes the problems with Pharmaquiddick, whether the deal itself is legal:
1. The President is not allowed to enter into secret deals with corporations. Deal, perhaps. Deal secretly? No.
2. They’ve lied about it. They did not merely withhold information about the deal; they actively lied to the public — in agreement with each other; both parties, after all, have to agree to lie before one goes forward in the lie — about the deal.
3. Big Pharma has also agreed to an utterly-corrupt $150 million ad buy to prop up Obama’s plan — which is of course the same as contributing to his election war chest. And John McCain only spent $126 million on his campaign, for comparison.
4. Obama keeps lying to the public, claiming he can find additional “savings” in drug spending, when in fact he as already promised to seek not a penny more in savings from Pharma. He needs to contrive fakey-pretend methods of savings, in order to explain why the CBO is wrong, and he keeps coming back to vague savings he’ll get from drug-makers. This is a lie. The exact amount of savings has been agreed to and there is not another dollar coming. (Cf. his frequent statements that he’s already gotten $80 billion out of pharma, so who knows how much more in savings he’ll find?)
5. Obama promised over and over these “negotiations” would be not only transparent, they’d be on CSPAN; he promised that anyone “carrying water” for the drug companies (a Congressman, he suggests) would be shamed.
The worst thing to me? Pres. Obama going on and on, claiming he can find additional “savings” in drug spending, when in fact he has already promised a deal with the drug companies to not get a penny more in savings from them.
That, my friends, is crony capitalism at its finest.
This is not the free market — it is the Democrat Party distorting, twisting, perverting an industry to advance its Statist agenda. Like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the “War on Poverty”, the Democrat agenda is control.
One memo produced by one lobbyist is an awfully thin reed on which to rest a charge like this, as any Rathergate veteran would remind you. The most transparent administration evah making secret promises to private industry not to push as hard as it might to control costs on its flagship policy measure? Why, it’s almost too good to check. Exit question for the economists among us: Why would the pharmaceutical business risk creating a monopsony among its consumer base by supporting a government program that could eventually lead to a single-payer system? Having only one client — especially a client with the power to regulate the price you can charge him — gives him an awful lot of leverage over you. Which is, er, a bad thing, isn’t it? Yet they’re ready to plunk down $150 million to advertise on behalf of it, on the word of a guy from Chicago that he won’t double-cross them and demand lower prices once the bill is safely passed and he has the power he wants. Good work, pharma.
Special thanks to Larwyn.