Proving once again that campaign promises are sturdy stuff, Barack Obama yesterday led the charge to kill a health care reform amendment that would have made it easier to import cheaper prescription drugs from places like Canada—even though he touted the idea in the campaign, and co-sponsored a similar measure as a senator. “No surprise here,” says Dana Milbank of the Washington Post. “Lawmakers, and the White House, are addicted to drug money.”
The pharmaceutical industry struck a “sweetheart deal” with Obama to forgo $80 billion in revenue if he otherwise protected their interests. So the administration backed a squadron of paid-off senators from pharmaceutical-manufacturing states, arming them with an FDA letter warning, laughably, of “significant safety concerns.” Desperate, sponsor Byron Dorgan pleaded with his colleagues. “The pharmaceutical industry has a lot of clout. I know that,” he said. “I hope the American people can expect some clout on their behalf.” If the vote was any indication, they can’t.