The White House/Pharma Deal Didn't Get Us Health Care, but It Did Help White House Advisers

The White House was responsible for the initial marketing of the health care reform effort—and they botched it. Despite the pharmaceutical industry funding an ad campaign produced by a firm with ties to David Axelrod and David Plouffe!

If we may take you back to the Spring of 2009, White House and Senate Democratic aides sat down with representatives from PhRMA, the AMA, AARP, SEIU, and others. These groups joined together to form some nonprofits that would run the marketing campaign for the Democratic health care reform effort.

PhRMA ponied up nearly all the cash for the television advertisements. And, oddly, the coalitions contracted AKPD Message and Media, a marketing firm founded by Obama campaign guru and senior advisor David Axelrod. AKPD also employs one of Axelrod's sons, and they owe him $2 million. And other Obama campaign guru David Plouffe is a partner at AKPD.

The campaign put together by the coalition groups was a joke. Instead of firing up Organizing for America, the grassroots, largely volunteer-based group that got Obama elected, the Democrats ran crappy TV ads in markets in swing and red states.

And as part of the deal for getting PhRMA to pay for this toothless marketing campaign, the White House cut the deal that made sure the bill wouldn't do anything that would hurt the pharmaceutical industry's profits. No reimporting drugs. No negotiating for prices in Medicare Part B. Basically PhRMA was guaranteed $80 billion in profit and all they had to do was fork over a couple million bucks for a crappy ad campaign, and promise not to spend that money on a crappy ad campaign against health care reform.

This was the single dumbest mistake the White House made on health care. It enraged liberals (rightfully), handed conservatives a wonderful talking point, made the bills more toothless, and ended up having no upside whatsoever. There's no way the presence of PhRMA money could've made the anti-reform campaign any more effective than it turned out to be.

But Axelrod and Plouffe came out on top!