The bipartisan Congressional committee currently investigating the secret dealings between the Obama administration and Big Pharma prior to the passage of the massive health care overhaul is set to release pertinent new details as to what these dealings entailed. In a recent memorandum, the committee unveils the names of some of the key figures involved with these secret negotiations, and promises to release even more shocking details in the coming weeks.
Addressed specifically to the Republican members of the Energy and Commerce Committee, the memo explains a little bit more about how the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), a powerful lobbying group that represents the drug and biotechnology industries, colluded with the federal government to make the terms of Obamacare as favorable to drug companies as possible. Both the federal government and PhRMA secretly agreed to abide by certain undisclosed commitments to one another as part of the passage of the bill, the details of which largely remain hidden from public view.
"The investigation has determined that the White House, primarily through Office of Health Reform Director Nancy Ann DeParle and (Jim) Messina, with involvement from Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, was actively engaged in these negotiations while the role of Congress was limited."
A private email sent by Jim Messina, for instance, then Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations to the White House, to a PhRMA lobbyist back on January 15, 2010, exposed the fact that the White House had made a secret "deal" with this group. In Messina's own words, PhRMA had apparently done something that "wasn't part of our deal," which had upset the White House at the time.
A good pharmaceutical lobby group, PhRMA strongly discourages marijuana use. In fact, its characterization of marijuana in official organizational literature is pure, unadulterated alarmist propaganda. For example, in "The Truth About" (.pdf), a document designed to deter young adults from using drugs Big Pharma doesn't make, the group takes a page from Richard Nixon's playbook and lumps cannabis in with far more dangerous narcotics:
Remember, drugs like marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin, are illegal. If people in your neighborhood are using them, they are dealing with criminals who sell the drugs. That means those criminals are walking the same streets and school corridors as you.
Interesting that PhRMA doesn't classify as "criminals" the white-coated peddlers of Oxycontin and Vicodin they represent. But back to Obama. Before the alleged secret dealings with PhRMA, the Obama Administration pledged not to "seek to arrest medical marijuana users and suppliers as long as they conform to state laws". In January 2010, however, (remember that date?) the Department of Justice began a series of clandestine raids of medical marijuana dispensaries. Hmmm.