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Emails, memos reveal White House tried to hide secret deal with drugmakers

Posted: June 4, 2012 at 10:25 am   /   by

The story, from BusinessWeek:

Drugmakers led by Pfizer (PFE) (PFE) Inc. agreed to run a “very significant public campaign” bankrolling political support for the 2010 health-care law, including TV ads, while the Obama administration promised to block provisions opposed by drugmakers, documents released by Republicans show.

The internal memos and e-mails for the first time unveil the industry’s plan to finance positive TV ads and supportive groups, along with providing $80 billion in discounts and taxes that were included in the law. The administration has previously denied the existence of a deal involving political support.

“The administration has previously denied the existence of a deal involving political support.

If this were a Republican administration, wouldn’t the media be calling this a “coverup” by now? (And no, we conservatives/libertarians/Republicans don’t have a persecution complex about media bias. If you are unable to see the double standard, might I suggest either an eye specialist, or an ear specialist, or both?)

Denying the existence of a deal does become trying to hide the deal once it is revealed that the deal existed, right? What else would one call it? “Hope and change,” perhaps?

“After promising transparency, the White House turned around and cut a secret deal with pharmaceutical companies,” Pitts said today in a statement. “Today’s revelation about the $80 billion deal shows an administration that cared more about victory than reform.”

Yes, we remember—the most transparent administration in history. Except it hasn’t been. Not even close.

The Obama administration decided it was going to pass health care “reform,” come hell or high water. With a massive majority in the House and a sufficient one in the Senate, with control of the White House, and with a presidential election that saw the first Democratic president win with a majority of the popular vote . . . they needed to make back-room deals and twist arms, and they STILL only passed Obamacare by a razor-thin margin. What does that tell you?


More information from the Office of Speaker John Boehner:

Oversight by Energy & Commerce Republicans Reveals Contents of Secret Deal Cut by President Obama

Today the Majority Staff on the House Energy and Commerce Committee released a memorandum on its year-long investigation into the manner in which the President’s health care law was constructed and whether “deals” were made that exchanged specific policy outcomes for public support of the law. Drawing from hundreds of pages of private emails – obtained without White House cooperation – the memo outlines the specific policies the administration accepted to win the support of the pharmaceutical industry, the tactics employed to strike a deal, and the astonishing extent to which the White House said one thing in public and did another behind closed doors. As the report explains:

“Documents obtained through the investigation confirm the existence of a deal between the White House and PhRMA.  The deal included explicit policy commitments, affirmed in a closed-door meeting at the White House on July 7, 2009…And in its review of the tactics used by the White House, the investigation identified a potent combination of policy threats and private reassurances that industry would be protected against policies it disliked in exchange for support of the legislation and acceptance of other policies.  Taken together, these findings help illuminate a previously opaque series of agreements that resulted in a fundamental reshaping of our nation’s health care system.”

Emails obtained by the Committee demonstrate a close working relationship between senior White House officials – Rahm Emanuel, Nancy-Ann DeParle, and Jim Messina – and lobbyists from  PhRMA. In fact, the investigation shows the White House promised “a direct line of communication, separate and apart from any other coalition” for PhRMA – a “special interest” group that candidate Obama promised to fight against in Washington.  Yet, despite his tough words in public, PhRMA lobbyists were given reassurances the President was supportive of the private deal-making.

From:  Bryant Hall
Sent:  Friday, June 12 2009 7:00 PM

To:  Neal Comstock; Mimi Simoneaux Kneuer; Ken Johnson, Billy Tauzin
Subject:  Background for Board

Obviously—below just context.

Here’s the stuff.  Background is that the Pres’s words are harmless.  He knows personally about our deal and is pushing no agenda…

The Committee report details the major policy concessions the White House made to PhRMA – not only what changes the industry would accept, but also the extent to which the White House would protect PhRMA – promising to “kill” measures proposed by congressional Democrats but opposed by industry. In one email, White House Office of Health Reform Director Nancy-Ann DeParle told PhRMA’s top lobbyist that the President would reverse his position and oppose a particular drug policy “based on how constructive you guys have been.” In the end, emails show that PhRMA believed it “got a good deal.”  In return for that good deal, the White House secured PhRMA’s support of the legislation – support that came not just in the form of public statements, but financial commitments for advertising campaigns to sway public opinion.  As today’s memo concludes:

“In its summary of the agreement, PhRMA outlined a series of advertising campaigns it would undertake in support of health care reform legislation – a topic the committee intends to examine in greater detail.”  

Christopher Cook

Christopher Cook

Managing Editor at Western Free Press
Christopher Cook is a writer, editor, and political commentator. He is the president of Castleraine, Inc., a consulting firm providing a diverse array of services to corporate, public policy, and not-for-profit clients.

Ardently devoted to the cause of human freedom, he has worked at the confluence of politics, activism, and public policy for more than a decade. He co-wrote a ten-part series of video shorts on economics, and has film credits as a researcher on 11 political documentaries, including Citizens United's notorious film on Hillary Clinton that became the subject of a landmark Supreme Court decision. He is the founder of several activist endeavors, including (now a part of Western Free Press) and He is currently the managing editor of and principal contributor to
Christopher Cook

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Emails, memos reveal White House tried to hide secret deal with drugmakers