House Republican Leader John Boehner launched an unusually harsh broadside at an estranged GOP ally Monday, ripping the drug industry for siding with President Obama's health care reform proposal.
PhRMA has agreed to trim $80 billion in costs over ten years and support the president in exchange for assurances the White House is not making public.
Republicans on Capitol Hill have been grumbling about the defection of the powerful lobby, which is running vague ads in support of reform. The letter is by leaps the most public stab at the group, which is run by a former top Republican congressman, Billy Tauzin.
"Dear Billy," begins the diatribe. "Appeasement rarely works as a conflict resolution strategy" - an interesting choice of words given the media focus on Nazi symbols at raucous townhall gathering.
Boehner goes on to compare the White House to a schoolyard bully in sympathizing with PhRMA's predicament. "When a bully asks for your lunch money, you may have no choice but to fork it over. But cutting a deal with the bully is a different story, particularly if the 'deal' means helping him steal others' money as the price of protecting your own."
The letter is perversely well timed for PhRMA; the deal with Obama has been the target of sharp criticism from progressives, who accuse the White House of getting snookered by PhRMA and doing so in secret. The attack from the right gives the PhRMA deal a measure of political cover.
But for Boehner, it's the drug makers who got scammed. "Now that the deal is publicly known and would be messy for you to reverse, Big Government is changing the terms. . .because it can," he laments.
Aides to Tauzin, Obama, and Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who was a party to the deal, didn't immediately return requests for comment.
Elements of the deal with PhRMA have been emerging over the last several weeks. The Huffington Post reported details of a memo outlining the agreement on Thursday -- which the White House and PhRMA rejected as inaccurate -- and the Wall Street Journal advanced the story on Monday.
The Honorable Billy Tauzin
950 F Street NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20004
Appeasement rarely works as a conflict resolution strategy. This is as true in the arena of policymaking as it is in schoolyards across America. When a bully asks for your lunch money, you may have no choice but to fork it over. But cutting a deal with the bully is a different story, particularly if the "deal" means helping him steal others' money as the price of protecting your own.
The simple truth is, two wrongs don't make a right. And the short-sighted health care deal PhRMA struck with the Obama Administration at your urging provides confirmation of this time-tested maxim on an epic and tragic scale.
The "bully" in this case is Big Government. At your behest, PhRMA has chosen to accommodate a Washington takeover of health care at the expense of the American people in hopes of securing favorable treatment and future profits. It's a short-sighted bargain that leaves your own customers and employees behind. And it now has all the markings of a deal gone sour.
The Obama Administration tacitly acknowledged last week that the President will not be bound by the $80 billion limit PhRMA and its board of directors were led to believe had been secured in exchange for your organization's support of the Administration's health care takeover, and key Democrats in Congress, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA), have said explicitly they will not honor the agreement. In other words, now that the deal is publicly known and would be messy for you to reverse, Big Government is changing the terms. . .because it can. Consequently, the jobs of PhRMA workers are no more secure than they were before, the threat to PhRMA's groundbreaking medical research remains, and the American people - including PhRMA's customers and the families of PhRMA employees - face the prospect of higher costs and reduced quality in health care.
You will inevitably object to this letter and quarrel with its premise. You'll no doubt argue PhRMA has publicly opposed the version of the bill backed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). But the simple press release your organization issued objecting to the House bill is dwarfed by the $150 million advertising campaign your organization has launched in support of ObamaCare with the assistance of well-funded political organizations on the Left.
PhRMA would do well to halt this short-sighted, misguided campaign and listen to the American people, rather than continue to collaborate on an effort to spin them.
Republicans across the nation have listened, and here's what we've learned: Americans are frustrated with their government in Washington and skeptical of those who run it. They want health care reform that lowers costs and increases choice - not government-run health care that increases costs and limits options. They want legislation that helps families and small businesses with their problems, not legislation that adds to their problems while empowering an elite few. They're worried about the debt being piled on our children and grandchildren, and they want the spending and borrowing spree in Washington to stop. They want policies that support job creation and protect freedom, not bills that force responsible citizens to subsidize bad behavior from those who insist on being irresponsible.
The millions of American families who are PhRMA customers and the hard-working professionals who work for PhRMA companies deserve better than the government takeover of health care being forced upon them. I urge you to rethink your organization's stance, listen to the American people, and join the call for responsible bipartisan health care solutions that truly reflect their priorities.