Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Drug Pushers Try to Hire A Congressman -- Literally
The big prescription drug association, PhRMA, has offered Bill Tauzin a job, and a pretty nice salary to boot. Tauzin is the current chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and he has had jurisdiction over the Food and Drug Administration and the pharmaceutical industry. Tauzin is evidently looking to make more money than he does in Congress, and recently turned down an offer from Hollywood moviemakers at $1 million a year.

This move would be particularly troubling if Tauzin gave drug companies a big handout in the recent Medicare prescription drug bill with the hopes of getting repaid by them in the form of a cushy job. But, so far there is no evidence of that. It seems quite possible that Tauzin really believed that drug companies needed a handout and was just following his conscience in helping them out. They then are just hiring a well-connected guy who agrees with their agenda of profit maximization. See details here on CNN.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to make money in America and Tauzin has not yet even decided if he'll take the job. If he does, he'll be breaking no laws or ethics rules to do so. But, it is a pretty sad statement about our politics today that one of America's biggest special interests sees one of the most powerful current members of congress as its natural ally, so much so as to want to hire him. Tauzin has been their guy while a both a Democratic and Republican member of Congress and he'll be their guy once he's out. What we need is a campaign finance system that puts people in office who want to serve the rest of us, rather than one that elects people who are doing the bidding of the special interests even before they are directly put on their payroll.

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