Editor’s Note – It just keeps rolling along, scandal after scandal, from the “most transparent Administration ever.” Everything this White House and the Democratic leadership touches reeks. From crony capitalism, to Fast & Furious, from Solyndra to Beacon Power, from ObamaCare to PhRMA, from “bundling” for a job to being FAT CATS!
Must be George Bush’s fault again…
Three years ago, President Obama cut a secret deal with pharmaceutical company lobbyists to secure the industry’s support for his national health care law. Despite Obama’s promises during his campaign to run a transparent administration, the deal has been shrouded in mystery ever since. But internal emails obtained by House Republicans now provide evidence that a deal was struck and GOP investigators are promising to release more details in the coming weeks.
“What the hell?” White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, who is now Obama’s campaign manager, complained to a lobbyist for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) in January 15, 2010 email. “This wasn’t part of our deal.”
This reference to “our deal” came two months before the final passage of Obamacare in an email with the subject line, “FW: TAUZIN EMAIL.” At the time, Billy Tauzin was president and CEO of PhRMA.
“In the coming weeks the Committee intends to show what the White House agreed to do as part of its deal with the pharmaceutical industry and how the full details of this agreement were kept from both the public and the House of Representatives,” the committee’s Republican members wrote in a memo today.
On June 20, 2009, Obama released a terse 296-word statement announcing a deal between pharmaceutical companies and the Senate that didn’t mention any involvement by the White House.
“The investigation has determined that the White House, primarily through Office of Health Reform Director Nancy Ann DeParle and Messina, with involvement from Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, was actively engaged in these negotiations while the role of Congress was limited,” the committee members wrote. “For example, three days before the June 20 statement, the head of PhRMA promised Messina, ‘we will deliver a final yes to you by morning.’ Meanwhile, Ms. DeParle all but confirmed that half of the Legislative Branch was shut out in an email to a PhRMA representative: ‘I think we should have included the House in the discussions, but maybe we never would have gotten anywhere if we had.’”
Internal Emails Reveal Top Administration Officials Were Behind Deal with Pharmaceutical Industry
May 16, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC – The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, chaired by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), today released new information that confirms the White House played a pivotal role in cutting a “deal” with the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the details of which have never been fully disclosed to the public. The latest revelations come as part of an ongoing investigation launched more than a year ago to allow Congress and the American public to understand the process that was used to write legislation that fundamentally transformed the nation’s health care system.
In 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama repeatedly made promises to usher in an era of transparency, “put an end to the game playing,” and broadcast health care negotiations on C-SPAN. However, in 2009, a series of conflicting media accounts documented efforts by the authors of the health care law to make an agreement or series of agreements with health care industry stakeholders to squelch opposition and generate support for the legislation. These meetings and negotiations with various outside interest groups were never made public, and many members of Congress – from both parties – were not a part of those negotiations. Since those reports lacked consistency and concrete details, the committee launched an investigation on February 18, 2011, to determine whether “deals” were made, who made them, and what specifically was negotiated.
Today, a staff memo distributed to Republican members of the committee provided further information regarding the development of the “deal,” and the parties involved in negotiating specific policy outcomes to secure support for the legislation. Based on email exchanges and other primary source material, it appears the deal was reached not solely between PhRMA and the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, but that top personnel in the White House were involved in negotiating and approving this deal. The committee’s investigation determined that the White House, specifically Office of Health Reform Director Nancy Ann DeParle, Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, and Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, actively engaged in these negotiations while the role of Congress was limited. Their involvement in these previously undisclosed negotiations is particularly noteworthy since it contradicts the president’s promises of transparency.
While news reports speculated on the details of the “deal,” the White House has been vague and contradictory about the specifics beyond the $80 billion threshold. In the coming weeks, the committee will show what the White House agreed to do as part of its deal with the pharmaceutical industry, and how the full details of this agreement were kept from both the public and the House of Representatives.
And as the memo highlights, the important question to be answered is what the White House got in return.