B-b-but I thought Obama told us “Big Pharma” was one of the obstacles to Obamacare. Apparently not, via the Wall Street Journal:
On Friday House Republicans released more documents that expose the collusion between the health-care industry and the White House that produced ObamaCare, and what a story of crony capitalism it is. If the trove of emails proves anything, it’s that the Tea Party isn’t angry enough.
Over the last year, the Energy and Commerce Committee has taken Nancy Pelosi’s advice to see what’s in the Affordable Care Act and how it passed. The White House refused to cooperate beyond printing out old press releases, but a dozen trade groups turned over thousands of emails and other files. A particular focus is the drug lobby, President Obama’s most loyal corporate ally in 2009 and 2010.
The business refrain in those days was that if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu. But it turns out Big Pharma was also serving as head chef, maître d’hotel and dishwasher. Though some parts of the story have been reported before, the emails make clear that ObamaCare might never have passed without the drug companies. Thank you, Pfizer.
This article is full of specific instances of quid pro quos between the pharmaceutical industry and liberals in the beltway seeking to force Obamacare on an unwilling nation. As it turns out, both were on the same side. Here’s just one example:
Then New York Times reporter Duff Wilson wrote to a PhRMA spokesman, “Tony, you see the WSJ editorial, ‘Big Pharma Gets Played”? I’m doing a story along that line for Monday.” The drug dealers had a problem.
The White House rode to the rescue. In September Mr. Hall informed Mr. Kindler that deputy White House chief of staff Jim Messina “is working on some very explicit language on importation to kill it in health care reform. This has to stay quiet.”
PhRMA more than repaid the favor, with a $150 million advertising campaign coordinated with the White House political shop. As one of Mr. Hall’s deputies put it earlier in the minutes of a meeting when the deal was being negotiated, “The WH-designated folks . . . would like us to start to define what ‘consensus health care reform’ means, and what it might include. . . . They definitely want us in the game and on the same side.”
In particular, the drug lobby would spend $70 million on two 501(c)(4) front groups called Healthy Economy Now and Americans for Stable Quality Care. In July, Mr. Hall wrote that “Rahm asked for Harry and Louise ads thru third party. We’ve already contacted the agent.”
And so on. This kind of backroom dealing is exactly why we need more than just a change of uniform in the White House next year. The establishment of both parties has a vested interest in the status quo, while those of us who pay the bills get stuck with the unintended consequences of bad legislation passed routinely under these corrupt circumstances. The Journal has a warning for would be businesses and Republican officeholders who may again be seduced by this kind of cronyism should they return to power next year:
The lesson for Republicans if they do end up running the country next year is that their job is to restore the free and fair market that creates broad-based economic growth. The temptation will be to return for the sake of power to the methods of Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff. If they do, voters will return the GOP to private life as surely as they did the Democrats in 2010.
The warning to business is also fundamental. Crony capitalism undermines public trust in capitalism itself and risks blowback that erodes the free market that private companies need to prosper and that underlies the productivity and competitiveness of the U.S. economy. The political benefits of cronyism are inherently temporary, but the damage it does is far more lasting.
Exactly. This is precisely what Governor Palin was talking about in her Indianola speech last fall. I wish I had even a tiny bit of confidence that presumptive Republican nominee and Establishment favorite Mitt Romney will change this corrupt process. Sadly, though, I’ve seen little or no reason for optimism in this area. Indeed, given our presumptive nominee, I won’t be a bit surprised if things remain basically the same and voters do return the Left to power in 2014 as the Wall Street Journal suggests. In fact I made that very prediction last October. Sure, the names of the direct beneficiaries of crony capitalism may change, but the losers (that would be us taxpayers in flyover country) will remain the same. Read the entire Wall Street Journal piece here.
(h/t G W)
Update: (h/t Jeff A) Ed Morrissey’s commentary here.