Via Jim Geraghty, this looks like a pattern now at the White House. Offer a few concessions in exchange for a bit of third-party campaigning, and everyone wins! In this case, it’s more that the pharmaceutical manufacturers won’t lose as much as they fear, but otherwise the concept is the same as with the NEA’s efforts to get its grant recipients to make art about universal health-care coverage. If the deal explicitly included a requirement for the pharmas to launch their upcoming $150 million ad campaign, this could cross the lines of campaign-finance laws:
I’ll tell you — if someone negotiated a deal with me and I agreed to put up say, 80 dollars or 80 million dollars or 80 billion dollars and then you came back and said to me a couple of weeks later — no no, I know you agreed to do 80 billion and I know you were willing to help support through an advertising campaign this particular — not even this particular bill, just the idea of generic health care reform? No, we’re going to double — we’re going to double what you agreed in those negotiations to do. That’s not the way — that’s not what I consider treating people the way I’d want to be treated.
Rep. Tom Carper (D-DE) says this not to expose the corporatism of the White House, but to explain why the Left should lay off of the pharmaceuticals. As Jim notes, it hasn’t convinced them yet, and Carper’s apparent admission of quid pro quo will likely raise howls on both sides of the political spectrum. We may even reach a bipartisan consensus on the issue of White House corruption, but the biggest realization should be that government has no business redesigning the private sector so it can pick its favored winners and losers. When we give government that kind of power, it expands the opportunities for corruption.