How Barack Obama has changed!
We recently learned that President Obama has secretly made a sweetheart deal with Billy Tauzin, the former congressman turned chief lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry. In return for $80 billion in projected cuts -- and $150 million in supportive television ads Obama has apparently sworn to protect the industry from congressional efforts to, among other things, let the government use its bargaining power to lower prescription drug costs.
Now flash back to April 2008, when the Obama campaign put out this ad, in which Obama held Tauzin up as an example of everything that was wrong with the game-playing in Washington.
The pharmaceutical industry wrote into the prescription drug plan that Medicare could not negotiate with drug companies. And you know what the chairman of the committee, who pushed the law through went to work for the pharmaceutical industry making 2 million
dollars a year.
That's an example of the same old game playing in Washington. You know I don't want to learn how to play the game better, I want to put an end to the game playing.
It's not the only time Obama's words on the campaign trail contradicted his campaign remarks about health care reform and Big Pharma.
Obama: "Congress exempted Medicare from being able to negotiate for the cheapest available price. And that was a profound mistake."
"Of course," Obama said on June 3, 2007, "part of that has to do with the fact that, with the Medicare prescription drug bill, for example, the Congress specifically exempted Medicare from being able to negotiate for the cheapest available price. And that was a profound mistake."
Obama: "Unless we change that politics, we're going to continue to see the waste that we're seeing in the entitlement programs":
From December 13, 2007:
SEN. OBAMA: But one thing I have to say, we are not going to make some of these changes unless we change how business is done in Washington. The reason that we can't negotiate prescription drugs under the Medicare prescription drug plan is because the drug companies specifically sought and obtained a provision in that bill that prevented us from doing it.
MS. WASHBURN: Thank you.
SEN. OBAMA: And unless we change that politics, we're going to continue to see the waste that we're seeing in the entitlement programs.
Obama campaign doc pledged to "repeal the ban on direct negotiation with drug companies":
From the Obama-Biden campaign document:
Allow Medicare to negotiate for cheaper drug prices. The 2003 Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act bans the government from negotiating down the prices of prescription drugs, even though the Department of Veterans Affairs' negotiation of prescription drug prices with drug companies has garnered significant savings for taxpayers. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will repeal the ban on direct negotiation with drug companies and use the resulting savings, which could be as high as $310 billion, to further invest in improving health care coverage and quality.
From October 2008 Wall Street Journal blog post titled Big Pharma Could Be Big Loser Under Obama Health Plan:
If Barack Obama wins Nov. 4, it's the pharma industry that stands to take the biggest hit, according to Boston Consulting Group. Its analysis concludes that Obama's plan to let the federal government negotiate Medicare drug prices could cut industry revenues by a whopping $10 billion to $30 billion [a day].
In campaign speeches, Obama often used heated rhetoric decrying the "stranglehold" of the big drug companies.
Obama says: "We will break the stranglehold that a few big drug and insurance companies have on the health care market.... It's become clear that some of these companies are dramatically overcharging Americans for what they offer.... We're not going to get change unless we can overcome the resistance the drug companies, the insurance companies, the HMOs, those who are making a major profit from the system currently. Now I think all these industries have a roll to play.... We want to listen to what they have to say. They should have a seat at the table, but they can't buy every chair."
Here are Obama's comments during a campaign speech in Newport News, Virginia on October 4, 2008 (skip to 23:00 for his comments):
Obama passionately stated (starting at about 23:00):
"First, we'll take on the drug and insurance companies and hold them accountable for the prices they charge and the harm they cause... And then we'll tell the pharmaceutical companies, 'Thanks but no thanks for overpriced drugs'. Drugs that cost twice as much here as they do in Europe and Canada and Mexico. We'll let Medicare negotiate for lower prices. We'll stop drug companies from blocking generic drugs that are just as effective and far less expensive. We'll allow the safe reimportation of low-cost drugs from countries like Canada."
In some of his strongest comments, Obama promised to televise his negotiations with drug companies and other interests in the health care reform debate, airing them live on C-SPAN during a campaign speech in Parma, OH on March 4, 2008:
I'm going to listen to everybody. We'll have the doctors and the nurses and the members of Congress and patient advocates. I'll have the insurance and drug companies at the table. They just won't be able to buy every chair. And we will... And I'll be at the table. I'll have the biggest chair, because I'm president. If people have other ideas and I don't assume that I've got every single idea. It can be improved and I want input. We're going to have to make some compromises.
But here's the thing. We're going to do all these negotiations on C-SPAN.
The American people will be able to watch these negotiations so if they start seeing a member of Congress who is carrying the water for the drug companies instead of for their constituents and says, 'Oh, you no. we can't negotiate for the cheapest available price on drugs because the drug companies need these profits to invest in research and development', I'll say, 'OK, let me bring my health care expert in here'. And on TV, we'll ask my health care expert, 'What do you think about what the drug companies are saying?'
And what that drug expert will undoubtedly say is 'Well, drug companies do need some profits to invest in research and development but a lot of what they're calling research and development is actually marketing costs for some of these TV ads you see' ... where everybody is, you have all these people dancing in fields, looking all happy. You don't know what the drug is for. Right? Except for that one drug, you know what that's for. You know what that one is for.
Anyway, you get my point. Open this. Transparency. You will hold me accountable, you will hold Congress accountable. That's how we'll get welfare... uh health care reform passed.
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