The Corner

Big PhRMA Loves Obama’s Plan

President Obama engaged in some theater over the weekend, giving Americans the impression that he’s changing the way Washington works, no matter what the lobbyists and special interests say. He framed himself as a brave figure fighting a difficult fight against entrenched enemies of the people.

That’s quite audacious, but also sadly untrue. The lobbyists and special interests are salivating over President Obama’s bloated multi-trillion dollar budget proposal, and they’re also pretty excited about Obama’s plans for health care. They like the idea of getting a piece of the pie — of your pie.

Don’t take my word for it. Instead, for just one example, listen to former Republican Rep. Billy Tauzin, who is now president and CEO of PhRMA, the pharmaceutical industry’s top lobbying and trade group. This morning, he told CNBC’s Mike Huckman that big Pharma is very optimistic about an expansion of government’s role in health care per Obama’s health insurance plan. He and the corporations he represents are drooling at getting a piece of the $600 billion pie that taxpayers will soon be offering them, every penny of which will be financed through borrowing.

Here is an excerpt from the interview, in which Tauzin chuckled as he waved off investors’ fears over the Obama health care plan:

Tauzin: By and large, think about what this plan does. This plan talks about providing comprehensive health insurance to people who don’t have it — that means to patients who can’t take our medicines because they can’t afford it. $650 billion spent to better insure Americans for the products we make. That ought to be a very optimistic and positive message for everyone who is interested in our sector of the economy.

Mike Huckman: Just to clarify, then, are you saying that if there is some kind of universal health care plan where prescription drugs are more broadly available, and they’re available at a cheaper price, that your sector may make up in higher prescription volume and sales what it might lose on price?

Tauzin: Oh, absolutely, Mike. Think about this: Almost half of the prescriptions that are written today go unfilled. And they’re unfilled primarily because people don’t have adequate insurance — they have no insurance, or their insurance doesn’t cover our products the way it covers hospitalizations…We’re going to quarrel over price controls…but we also believe more people ought to have good insurance.

Even if you believe that the benefits outweigh the costs of this enormous corporate welfare package, please recognize it for what it really is. The potential special-interest benefit to this single industry is many, many times greater than all of Haliburton’s profits in Iraq — greater, in fact, than all of our spending in Iraq to this date. And that is just one example among many of how entrenched “special interests” in Washington will benefit mightily from Obama’s agenda, always at your expense.

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