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Robert Reich Assails Obama Deal with Big Pharma as ‘Assault on Democracy’

Posted by Larry Doyle on August 10, 2009 7:54 AM |

Likened to extortion. Assault on democracy.

Strong charges put forth by Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich in regard to a deal cut by the Obama administration with Big Pharma (major pharmaceutical companies) to support his proposed health-care reform.

If you start to see a major advertising blitz by the pharmaceutical companies in support of Obamacare (and you will) and wonder how it happened, I strongly recommend How the White House’s Deal with Big Pharma Undermines Democracy, recently posted at Wall Street Pit.

Reich weighs in:

I want universal health insurance. And having had a front-row seat in 1994 when Big Pharma and the rest of the health-industry complex went to battle against it, I can tell you first hand how big and effective the onslaught can be. So I appreciate Big Pharma’s support this time around, and I like it that the industry is doing the reverse of what it did last time, and airing ads to persuade the public of the rightness of the White House’s effort.

But I also care about democracy, and the deal between Big Pharma and the White House frankly worries me. It’s 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 industry’s support to a key piece of legislation, we’re in big trouble. That’s 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 it’s doing so at the highest reaches of our government, in the office of the President.

When the industry support comes with an industry-sponsored ad campaign in favor of that legislation, the threat to democracy is even greater.

We’re on a precarious road — and wherever it leads, it’s not toward democracy.

Do yourself the favor and read this entire piece by Reich and then share it with friends and colleagues. I know that Washington is bought and sold many times over, but this deal strikes more deeply at the heart of the democratic process.

Those aren’t my words, but those of Robert Reich!! I concur.

What do you think?


  • Petricone456

    Thanks for pointing this out!

    Obama’s deal with big pharma seems to coincide quite nicely with the FDA’s growing approval of new compounds. A Reuter’s headline from this morning notes that “In the second quarter of 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved 13 new molecules, twice the average of six in previous four quarters.” It looks like someone is helping prime pharma’s profit pump.

    Here’s a link to the article:

  • fiscalliberal

    There is a lot of sand being thrown up for public debate.

    It is critical that people notify their congress people and senators in terms of what their desires are.

    My view is to get costs down, provide capability for individual participation with no precondition limits. and ensure participation of all to eliminate the free loaders at the emergency ward.

    This will become more relevant as industry will not be able to cover families to remain competitive. Pensions, dental and 401k matching are being dropped out. Family coverage will be the next.

    We need to get to something sustainable without government subsidies. I would suggest providing the pools for insurance purposes might be enough. These could be by state or regional.

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