WASHINGTON — Pressed by industry lobbyists, White House officials on Wednesday assured drug makers that the administration stood by a behind-the-scenes deal to block any Congressional effort to extract cost savings from them beyond an agreed-upon $80 billion.
Drug industry lobbyists reacted with alarm this week to a House health care overhaul measure that would allow the government to negotiate drug prices and demand additional rebates from drug manufacturers.
In response, the industry successfully demanded that the White House explicitly acknowledge for the first time that it had committed to protect drug makers from bearing further costs in the overhaul. The Obama administration had never spelled out the details of the agreement.
“We were assured: ‘We need somebody to come in first. If you come in first, you will have a rock-solid deal,’ ” Billy Tauzin, the former Republican House member from Louisiana who now leads the pharmaceutical trade group, said Wednesday. “Who is ever going to go into a deal with the White House again if they don’t keep their word? You are just going to duke it out instead.”
Note that Speaker Pelosi was not consulted, while Senator Max Baucus was apparently part of the negotiations:
Mr. Tauzin said the administration had approached him to negotiate. “They wanted a big player to come in and set the bar for everybody else,” he said. He said the White House had directed him to negotiate with Senator Max Baucus, the business-friendly Montana Democrat who leads the Senate Finance Committee.
Mr. Tauzin said the White House had tracked the negotiations throughout, assenting to decisions to move away from ideas like the government negotiation of prices or the importation of cheaper drugs from Canada. The $80 billion in savings would be over a 10-year period. “80 billion is the max, no more or less,” he said. “Adding other stuff changes the deal.”
After reaching an agreement with Mr. Baucus, Mr. Tauzin said, he met twice at the White House with Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff; Mr. Messina, his deputy; and Nancy-Ann DeParle, the aide overseeing the health care overhaul, to confirm the administration’s support for the terms.
“They blessed the deal,” Mr. Tauzin said. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House was not bound by any industry deals with the Senate or the White House.
But, Mr. Tauzin said, “as far we are concerned, that is a done deal.” He said, “It’s up to the White House and Senator Baucus to follow through.”
Take note of that sentence in bold: the administration agreed to drop negotiating drug prices or increasing imports from Canada.
Now take a look at Candidate Obama's position on prescription drugs:
Obama: Pharmaceutical companies are selling the exact same drugs in Europe and Canada but charging Americans more than double the price. Obama will allow Americans to buy cheaper medicines from other developed countries if the drugs are safe. Obama will also repeal the ban that prevents the government from negotiating with drug companies for the Medicare prescription drug benefit, which could result in savings as high as $30 billion. Finally, Obama will work to increase the use of generic drugs in federal benefits programs and prohibit drug companies from keeping generics out of markets.
Oh. Shit. President Barack Obama: p3wned by Big Pharma.
No wonder White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel characterized liberal and progressive interest groups running ads to keep the pressure on the Blue Dogs and conservative Senate Democrats as f**king stupid [except that Rahm don't use no stinking asterisks].
Maybe it wasn't President Obama who got p3wned. Maybe it was the folks who placed such high hopes on his intention to deliver all that change, and who--like Dissident Voice's John Murphy--are starting to get a gigantic case of voter's remorse:
If you're any kind of a progressive at all or if you voted for Barack Obama because you honestly believed that he would end Bushism and bring about real change you must be at your wit’s end. No, I'm not going to talk about Obama's endless war in Iraq, his escalation of the war in Afghanistan and his mindless bombing of innocent men, women and children in Pakistan. For the moment I'll pass over in silence the fact that he is following the same neoliberal economic policies as George Bush. I'm not going to write about his secret deals which have already become public (the most recent one brought to light indicates how Obama assured drug makers that the administration stood by a behind-the-scenes deal to block any Congressional effort to extract cost savings from them beyond an agreed-upon $80 billion). Some change!
Nah, it's more substantive to rejoice in climbing approval numbers and contemplate your own testicles than to talk about the fact that your guy is selling you out.