Rent-seeking delenda est

Kim Strassel has the feel-good story of the day, on how Pfizer, the pharmaceutical giant, tried to hook itself onto the big-government gravy train and got burned for it. Pfizer promoted Democrats into key lobbying positions, dramatically shifted its political contributions toward Democrats, and aggressively campaigned for the Democratic health plan. (ASIDE: The industry spent $150 million campaigning for the Democratic health plan. Democrats aren’t against corporate speech when it serves their purposes!) In return:

Mr. Kindler surely believed Democrats would treat his industry gently. The strategy: The industry would pledge $80 billion to reform. In return it would get greater volume and a requirement that people buy brand-name drugs. Democrats would also fight against drug reimportation and forgo price controls. . .

Critics warned the legislation would lead to a government takeover and price controls. They warned Democrats would take the money and double-cross them. None of it fazed the industry, right up until ObamaCare imploded.

Mr. Kindler and Co. are left with the ashes. Having got this far (with Big Pharma’s help), Democrats are more desperate than ever to pass “something.” It won’t include any upside for drug companies. There is talk instead of “popular” stand-alone legislation, including reimportation, Medicare price controls, and slashing the industry’s 12-year exclusivity on biologics.

There’s nothing not to like about this: Health care nationalization is apparently dead. Pfizer’s rent-seeking blew up in its face. And everyone now knows that the Democrats can’t be trusted, which might make the next would-be crony capitalist think twice.

(Via the Corner.)

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