Old politicos don't die--they become lobbyists

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Looks like the "Cajun ambassador to Congress," Rep. Billy Tauzin, has landed a new job as president of PhRMA, according to an article in the New York Times.

    "This industry understands that it's got a problem," Mr. Tauzin, a Louisiana lawmaker who is retiring from Congress, said in an interview. "It has to earn the trust and confidence of consumers again."

But some might feel that PhRMA's hiring of Tauzin, a principal author of the new Medicare drug law who over 24 years in Congress has developed lots of connections, won't do much to restore that trust, despite what looks like a reward for including so many items that were on industry's wish list in the legislation, which President Bush signed into law last week.

    Representative Pete Stark of California, the senior Democrat on the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, said: "As a member of Congress, Billy negotiated a large payout to the pharmaceutical industry by the federal government. He's now about to receive one of the largest salaries ever paid to any advocate by an industry."

    Representative Henry A. Waxman, a California Democrat who has focused on health policy for 30 years, did not question the legality of Mr. Tauzin's move. But Mr. Waxman said: "The appearance is terrible. A chief architect of the Medicare prescription drug legislation is now going to represent the chief beneficiary of the bill. This will only reinforce the public's disillusionment with Congress."

    President Bush and Republicans in Congress say the law's main beneficiaries are Medicare recipients, not the industry.

I will attempt not to make any snarky comments one way or the other on this one, in the hope of maintaining blog decorum. But feel free to leave your own in the comments area below.

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