More 2009 e-mails show extent of drug industry's involvement in health care push

A fat stack of recently released e-mails between the White House and pharmaceutical interests are showing just how well the two parties worked together in 2009 in the epic quest to make President Obama’s health care overhaul more palatable. In that special D.C. “I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine” kind of relationship, the White House got the drug industry to pay for millions of dollars in pro-ObamaCare ads. It would almost be depressing, if it weren’t so tremendously unsurprising. From the WSJ:

The emails also show that the money for the ad campaign from drug-industry companies, health-care lobbies and unions went through nonprofit groups that didn’t have to disclose their donors. One such organization, Healthy Economy Now, was created in the spring of 2009 in conjunction with White House officials and the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee according to the emails. …

The emails, released by Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee,  reveal financial details about the arrangements with PhRMA and others to promote the planned legislation,  and the development of administration’s t message, tying the high costs of health care to the future of the U.S. economy. …

The emails show that drug makers hesitated to agree to pony up a lot of money for the ads without proof that their desires and concerns were reflected in the deal with the administration. One email from a  Democratic consultant to PhRMA  sent to other  PhRMA folks on June 3, 2009, said that the start of the ads, and the “spend” on airtime “depends on how things develop.”

The NYT has a more in-depth piece with the specific details, complete with defensive Democrats pointing out that Republicans have no right to complain, since Republicans are ostensibly the ones who normally benefit from the involvement of well-monied interests in politics (and no, the door definitely swings both ways on that one — unions much?), and that President Obama was just doing his due diligence in bringing all interested parties to the table.

What these Democrats seem to fail to understand, however, is that nobody is accusing the President of doing something that nobody else has done before him. The problem is that President Obama promised to run the most transparent administration, ever; to put an end to “business as usual” lobbying involvement; and to disable such pervasive crony capitalism and rent-seeking. And yet here we are, with everything going “business as usual,” and even ramped up a notch. The hypocrisy is enough to make your head spin.