Strange bedfellows: GOP uses big business to slam Dems

Republicans are attacking Democrats for their ties to a pharmaceutical industry group

Published August 18, 2009 7:35PM (EDT)

House Republican Leader John Boehner hasn’t forgotten about the deal that the pharmaceutical industry group PhRMA made with the Obama administration on healthcare reform. And now, he’s reminding PhRMA.

Boehner laid out his case in a letter to the organization's CEO, Billy Tauzin, in which he urges PhRMA to renege its support of President Obama’s healthcare reform legislation, according to Politico. In exchange for supporting the legislation, PhRMA received profit protection under rules established in a 2003 prescription-drug bill.

The tone Boehner took in the letter -- sharp and even condescending at times -- is somewhat odd considering Boehner is attempting to persuade PhRMA to overturn what he describes as a bad deal that Obama and Co. will not ultimately honor.

“Appeasement rarely works as a conflict resolution strategy,” Boehner wrote. “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.”

He added: "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.”

Of course, one reason for Boehner's tone may be that Republicans generally are looking to use PhRMA as a club with which to beat the Democrats on healthcare reform. Helping matters is that PhRMA has hired AKPD Message and Media, the Chicago-based run firm that was started by Obama senior advisor David Axelrod, to run a portion of its advertising business. The House Republican Conference is already all over that angle.

By Tim Bella


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