Saturday, February 13, 2010

Don't Let The Door Hit You

I was tempted to caption this post "Saturday Fat Cat Blogging," but I feared that might lock me into a new feature, one that I knew I would find distasteful. The heavens know that there are plenty of candidates for such a feature, but I just don't have the constitution for that kind of examination. In my opinion, people like Billy Tauzin should be held up for scorn, but they also shouldn't get any more attention than that.

Having said that, I must admit that I took great pleasure in reading this article in the NY Times. It appears that Mr. Tauzin, who is famous for giving away the government store in his wheeling and dealing when he was a congressman, got into trouble with his next employer (PHARMA) for doing the same thing.

Mr. Tauzin is leaving his $2 million-a-year job as the top lobbyist for the drug industry amid complaints from drug makers that he bargained away their profits too cheaply, spent too much in his $150 million advertising campaign to sell the overhaul and miscalculated in his assessment that the passage of the legislation was all but inevitable.

Other drug industry lobbyists, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said his departure raised questions about whether the drug makers would continue to support the proposed overhaul, which has stalled in Congress. ...

Mr. Tauzin’s supporters in the drug industry trade group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, known as PhRMA, say that he was essentially undefeated in his five years representing the industry on Capitol Hill — beating back a phalanx of proposals to cut drug costs, including allowing foreign imports or government price negotiations.

Apparently that wasn't a good enough deal for PHARMA. They expected everything. After all, they are PHARMA. The bottom line is all that matters. It is, well, the bottom line. Profits must grow annually at a double digit rate, their customers be damned.

Mr. Tauzin's last notable act as a congressman was what got him his high paying job as a pharmaceutical company lobbyist. His brokering of a deal to get the Medicare Part D bill passed included a provision that the government would not be able to negotiate on prices for drugs, thereby enriching the drug makers. How ironic that a similar act as a lobbyist dealing with the White House on health care reform is what cost him that job.

Now Mr. Tauzin can retire to his Texas ranch, one paid for while he was a congressman by his lobbyist buddies under the guise of it being a "hunting club" which required its "members" to pay regular "dues." Hopefully, we won't hear too much more about the cagey Cajun.

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