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August 10, 2009

The Chicago Way: Obama Reaches Not-So-Secret Deal to Not Push Down Pharmaceutical Prices Any Further; In Exchange, BigPharma Will Spend Up to $150 Million in Ads to Push ObamaCare

Ed notes that George Soros is spending $5 million to buy more Astroturfers, but at least that's legal.

But a direct quid pro quo to the tune of $150 million?

What?

The drug industry has authorized its lobbyists to spend as much as $150 million on television commercials supporting President Obamaís health care overhaul, beginning over the August Congressional recess, people briefed on the plans said Saturday.

The unusually large scale of the industryís commitment to the cause helps explain some of a contentious back-and-forth playing out in recent days between the odd-couple allies over a deal that the White House struck with the industry in June to secure its support. The terms of the deal were not fully disclosed. Both sides had announced that the drug industry would contribute $80 billion over 10 years to the cost of the health care overhaul without spelling out the details.

With House Democrats moving to extract more than that just as the drug makers finalized their advertising plans, the industry lobbyists pressed the Obama administration for public reassurances that it had agreed to cap the industryís additional costs at $80 billion. The White House, meanwhile, has struggled to mollify its most pivotal health industry ally without alienating Congressional Democrats who want to demand far more of the drug makers. White House officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Are you kidding me?

Bonus: The Democrats' supporters are 100% real citizens expressing
genuine grassroots fervor.

For $11-16 per hour.

Thanks to Nice Deb.

Lefty Dwarf Robert Reich Slams Obama's Corrupt Deal with Big Pharma, Calling It a "Precarious Road" Away from Democracy: He's right.

Last week, after being reported in the Los Angeles Times, the White House confirmed it has promised Big Pharma that any healthcare legislation will bar the government from using its huge purchasing power to negotiate lower drug prices. Thatís basically the same deal George W. Bush struck in getting the Medicare drug benefit, and itís proven a bonanza for the drug industry. A continuation will be an even larger bonanza, given all the Boomers who will be enrolling in Medicare over the next decade. And it will be a gold mine if the deal extends to Medicaid, which will be expanded under most versions of the healthcare bills now emerging from Congress, and to any public option that might be included. (We donít know how far the deal extends beyond Medicare because its details havenít been made public.)

Let me remind you: Any bonanza for the drug industry means higher health-care costs for the rest of us, which is one reason why critics of the emerging healthcare plans, including the Congressional Budget Office, are so worried about their failure to adequately stem future healthcare costs.

...

In return, Big Pharma isnít just supporting universal health care. Itís also spending a lots of money on TV and radio advertising in support. Sundayís New York Times reports that Big Pharma has budgeted $150 million for TV ads promoting universal health insurance, starting this August (thatís more money than John McCain spent on TV advertising in last yearís presidential campaign), after having already spent a bundle through advocacy groups like Healthy Economies Now and Families USA.

I want universal health insurance....

But I also care about democracy, and the deal between Big Pharma and the White House frankly worries me. Itís bad enough when industry lobbyists extract concessions from members of Congress, which happens all the time. But when an industry gets secret concessions out of the White House in return for a promise to lend the industryís support to a key piece of legislation, weíre in big trouble. Thatís called extortion: An industry is using its capacity to threaten or prevent legislation as a means of altering that legislation for its own benefit. And itís doing so at the highest reaches of our government, in the office of the President.

No, that's called The Chicago Way.

Thanks to AHFF Geoff.

Another Update: Those ads on Craigslist for dedicated, grassroots supporters to be paid $11-16 per hour to be all spontaneously supportive?

Verum Serum has traced the ads to a "partner" organization to HCAN, the supposedly "grassroots" organization pushing ObamaCare.



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posted by Ace at 02:01 PM

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