Did Obama fall for Big Pharma sales hype?

August 13, 2009 | By | 7 Replies More

Did you hear that Obama has been cutting some secret deals with Big Pharma after his campaign filled with promises that health care reform would be a big open book? I don’t quite know what to think of this. Maybe Obama is leading Pharma on, and he’s gonna stab them in the back at the last minute. That ploy has the advantage of freezing the Pharma advertising money in place for now.  This is important because Pharma has enough advertising money to destroy what’s left of health care reform. So three cheers for the possibility that Obama is a shrewd guy who is keeping his enemies close to keep them at bay, at least for now. I’d give that about a 2% chance of being the case.

What I’m assuming is that Obama knows that the system is so utterly corrupted by legalized bribery (campaign contributions) that Congress is incapable of giving us real health care reform. That’s why Obama is unwilling to promote the single payer system that most Americans want. In this more likely scenario, Obama has already given up on any meaningful health care reform.  Instead, he’s working hard to spin the illusion of health care reform, and the final plan will actually be a few trinkets and whistles.  Maybe the government will subsidize dentists to give out candy to their patients.   Maybe it will be nothing at all, but all of the Congressional Leaders will nonetheless pose and smile with their 3,000 page health care reform bill that no one will have actually read and for good reason.

As many progressives are arguing, with increasing volume these days, why not take the profit out of health care insurance?  Why not essentially expand medicare to all Americans?  The experts I trust say that single payor is the only legitimate reform. Everything else is throwing tax money at a corrupt and inefficient system.  I wasn’t a big fan of single payor until I started learning how many other countries are making it work.  The benefits are many (In addition to the obvious improvement that sick people won’t be thrown on the street, employed people won’t be locked into terrible jobs just for the insurance).

Really, why should we have for-profit health insurance any more than we might have for-profit fire departments and for-profit libraries? Except that we have a for-profit Congress and a for-profit military (e.g., Blackwater and all those private soldiers earning $100,000 to be in Afghanistan). It’s getting downright un-American to be duped into doing something because it’s RIGHT.

But I’m still obsessing about the deal Obama cut with Pharma. We heard how Pharma would save Americans $80 Billion over the next 10 years. Did you see what the written deal is: It’s “up to $80 Billion.”


Now what is Obama thinking?  When I see that a store is offering “up to” 80% off, I know (because I’m not a total idiot) that this means the store might be offering 2 items at 10% off and everything else at 0% off.   That’s the meaning of “up to.”   Signing an agreement with “up to” is stupid, truly idiotic.   My question (which I raised in the beginning of this post) is “Who is the one being stupid?”  I’ll be watching for some happy 11th hour excitement when Obama tells Pharma to fuck off, that we’re enacting single payor and that for its loyalty and naivete, Pharma will be rewarded with tax breaks of “up to” 100%, which means negative 37%. Take that, assholes.  That’s what you get for trying to cut secret deals with my President.

If only.

Epilogue: For those of you who are pissed that Obama is a communist, note that Blue Cross just tried to raised its rates by 56% in Michigan.


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Category: Corruption, Health, Medicine, Politics

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (7)

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  1. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    Most people in the US believe in the idealized portrayal of the legislative process, where the legislators represent the interests of the average Joe, and and work hard to protect the rights of those they represent. There is this image of legislators giving impassioned speeches that convince others of the right and honorable thing to do.


    As a teen, I went on week long tour of Washington D.C. with the 4-H clubs of America. It was a memorable experience. Got to see Amy Carter's tree house in the white house garden, got to ride the congressional subway ( because some of us missed our bus), got to visit with one of the senators in his office, but the most impressive thing for me was getting to watch the law-making process in action from the gallery in the house of representatives.

    It appeared to me that I was watching a swap meet. Most legislators are not corrupt, but they are making laws concerning things outside their scope of knowledge, so they rely on consultants for guidance.

    The trading that goes on is a type of arbitration where trade concessions for concessions in attempts to create something that they believe represents the will of the people.

    The problem is that most of them have no clue what the people want because the people don;t write their congressmen or senators.

    This is where the lobbyists step in. he job of the lobbyist is to find ways to convince the lawmakers to legislate in ways favorable to their clients. They do this in several ways. One of course is bribery. Another way exploits the good ol' bot networks to plant biased consultants in advisory positions. Another way is to manipulate the masses in ways that censor opposing views, as we have seen in the astroturf protests.

    The big money interests have the money and lack or ethics to do this. The fact that Obama could get the Pharma industry to concede to anything is amazing.

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    There are six lobbyists for each of the 535 members of the House and Senate, according to Senate records. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/09/lobbyblo

  3. Erich Vieth says:

    Jim Selman argues that the dysfunctional health care debate is merely a symptom of the death of democracy:

    The debate about health care should have been about alternative strategies for coverage, cost and quality. Instead, the ideologues, provoked by corporate economic interests and more than a thousand lobbyists and uncounted millions of dollars in paid media, turned the issue into bouts of personality bashing of elected leaders, a proliferation of inaccurate claims of what was being proposed, and an avalanche of irresponsible gossip, rumors and lies.

    What is democracy? Here's Selman's definition:

    Democracy is an invention. It was created by European and American visionaries who saw that if power was to be shifted from a monarchy to the people, there had to be a way to simultaneously validate different points of view while aligning and coordinating collective action. While the structure and process can take many forms, the underlying principle that makes all democracies work is that each member of the democratic society can vote according to their conscience, while committing themselves in advance to support and empower the decisions of the majority. We don't have to agree to be aligned and committed to whatever policies and decisions the majority make. If we disagree, the process allows and encourages continuing discourse and debate. But if we stop communicating or kill the debate, then we have killed democracy.


  4. Erich Vieth says:

    I suspect that Ralph Nader is spot on regarding this health care "reform" that has become an incredibly opaque process. Nader was being interviewed by DemocracyNow's Amy Goodman:

    RALPH NADER: What is emerging here is what was being planned by the Obama White House all along, which is they would only—they would only demand legislation that was accepted by the big drug companies and the big health insurance companies.

    You can see this emerging over the last few months. President Obama has met with the heads of the drug companies and the health insurance companies. Some executives have met with President Obama four to five times in the White House in the last few months. He has never met with the longtime leaders of the “Full Medicare for Everybody” movement, including Dr. Quentin Young, who is a close friend of his in Chicago; Dr. Sidney Wolfe, the head of the Health Research Group of Public Citizen; Rose Ann DeMoro, the leader of the fast-growing California Nurses Association—not once in the White House.

    That’s all you need to know to realize that the deal that’s being cut here is from Obama to Senator Baucus, the Blue Dog senator from Montana, who is cutting a deal, largely in private, with right-wing Republican senators and getting it through the Senate and presenting Henry Waxman and John Dingle and others in the House with a fait accompli. So whatever they pass in the House will be watered down in the Senate-House conference. And what we’ll end up with is another patchwork piece of legislation, allowing huge and expanded profits for the health insurance companies and the drug companies, and continuing this pay-or-die system that has plagued this country for decades, a system that takes 20,000 lives a year, according to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. That’s about fifty to sixty people who die every day.

    The big mistake that the Obama administration made was they did not have continual public congressional hearings documenting the greed, the fraud, the $250 billion in billing fraud and abuse alone that the GAO years ago has documented.

    What is Obama doing wrong? Nader lays it out:

    Well, the significance is that Obama is being undermined by his own party in Congress, because the Blue Dogs are getting far more money from these corporations and campaign contributions than the so-called liberals in the Democratic Party.

    But, you see, I say “undermined”—I’m not quite sure that Obama is objecting to this. He has set the whole atmosphere of catering to these giant corporations. He has made every mistake that the Clintons made in 1993, ’94 with their health insurance plan, except that he’s leaving Michelle Obama out of it. He’s made every mistake.

    You do not cut deals with the system that has to be replaced, which is the health insurance system and the monster costs imposed by the drug corporations, all of which are getting huge taxpayer subsidies, by the way.

    So, what Obama failed to do, because he’s never done it when he was campaigning, he did not pay adequate and due regard to the folks that brung him to the White House. He has not mobilized the progressive base in this country. He has not done anything but, you know, humor the labor unions. And as a result, he doesn’t have a base out there.

    You point quite clearly to, or you imply, that there a lot of people for a single payer, a full Medicare-for-All system. And that’s true. Every poll has shown a majority of the American people, majority of doctors, majority of nurses, are for the single-payer system.

    So why isn’t the President of the United States, who was elected in large part by these same people, why isn’t he representing them in Congress and in the White House? Because he is not a transforming leader. He is a harmony ideology person. He’s a concessionary person. He wants any bill with the label “health insurance reform” on it, no matter what.


  5. Erich Vieth says:

    More on Nader's interview by Amy Goodman:

    What’s happening here is a Goebbels-type propaganda attack on Full Medicare for All, accusing Full Medicare for All of everything that the present system is furthering: rationing of care by these HMOs, number one; bureaucracy, number two; huge cost increases, number three; and making the taxpayers subsidize their profiteering corporate greed.


  6. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    So it seems to me that what we are witnessing is a civil infowar. The government of the, for the people is under attack by the corporate insurgency. Obama moved too soon and made some tactical blunders. If the letter of the law had been upheld, and the financial institutions had been forced into government receivership as required by law, the billions of dollars hidden in foreign numbered bank accounts could have been confiscated, the regulations reinstated, the exploding ARMs renegotiated so people could afford to keep their homes, and the corporate honchos that shifted billions from the poor and middle class to the upper 2 percent were exposed and jailed for their fraud on the tax payers, The public would be more trusting of Mr Obama and much less susceptible to the insurance and pharm industry's lies.

    Then if he had worked to discredit fraud as standard business practices in the healthcare industry, then the people would be more receptive to the health care reforms.

    But he screwed up strategically and the greedy bastards who have been profiteering got their collective foot in the door and are winning the infowar with their snake-oil sales pitch.

  7. Erich Vieth says:

    Niklaus: I agree entirely. Well stated. Too bad there's not well-monied and well-organized lobbies representing the interests of ordinary taxpayers and middle-class folks to counter-balance some of the millions of corporate dollars that corrupt our representatives.

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