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Is Obama Selling Us Down the River to Big Pharma?

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I've been on pins and needles watching the health care debate rage on. On the television, the radio, the newspapers, the Internet. Everywhere.

I can't help it. It's the most important issue we're facing today and when things go wrong I can get pretty angry.

You can imagine my reaction when I saw this article on the front page of the Huffington Post: White House Confirms: Deal With Big Pharma Bars Price Negotiations. How could that be?

It turns out that Obama has had lobbyists from Big Pharma in contact with the White House negotiating on their behalf about the "comprehensive" health care reform measures. The White House has signaled that it won't support two things we need in order to fix the problem in return for the Drug Lobby's support on the rest of the package.

The two things he sold us out on? You probably already read this and are just as pissed as I am, but I'll reiterate for the rest of you: it seems as though Obama isn't interested in saving tax payers' money, and doesn't want to allow Medicare to negotiate the price of the drugs it buys in bulk. And importing cheaper drugs from Canada (a country with sensible regulation on con artists like the drug companies)? That, too, is right out.

Can I ask why they get to negotiate at all? I understand that Obama wants to keep them in the neutral camp on health care reform because they can bring a lot of pressure on Congress, but wouldn't it be smarter to deal with that problem and work to eliminate their ability to exert that pressure?

Quite frankly, I don't care how much less profit they'll be making, price negotiations and free trade of drugs in Canada are two things that will be vital to a meaningful health care reform. It's not the business of the government to do the business of the people by working with interests other than those of the people. Bringing lobbyists from Big Pharma into the negotiations is anathema to the process and makes them feel like they deserve a place at that table.

And for being sold up the river what do we get in return? $80 billion dollars in savings over a decade that we could have legislated ourselves into anyway.

You can imagine how angry I am.

I understand that Obama is a deft politician, and he's playing politics. I get it.

I don't like it.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Obama is supposed to bring change, not bring us more of the same sorts of dealings with lobbyists and kowtowing to corporate interests. Is it a ruse? Is he just pretending?

If he is just pretending, he's playing a dangerous game.

Kurt Vonnegut (via Howard W. Campbell, Jr.) once said, "The moral here is that you must be careful what you pretend to be because, in the end, you are what you pretend to be."

And Kurt, as always, says it best.

Bryan Young is the producer of Killer at Large.