The 2008 election is only a week away, and much of the public discussion focuses on the presidential race between Obama and McCain. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that voters will also choose their US senators and representatives. This point is not lost on the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).
Therapeutics Daily reported that PhRMA paid for ads that praise lawmakers who supported the extension of a children’s health-insurance program. Some of the lawmakers portrayed positively in the ads; including Rep. Gerald McNerney (D-CA), Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), Paul Kanjorski (D-PA), and Steve Kagen (D-WI); are in tough re-election battles. No doubt the ads are partly intended to help re-elect these candidates.
A spokeswoman for the group directly responsible for the ads said they were designed to shore up continued support for the children’s health-insurance program. Leaving the particulars of the program aside, its goal is worthy.
If you’re skeptical of displays of benevolence and altruism, Massie Ritsch, a spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics, will provide grist for your mill. The ads also serve the interests of the drug industry, he said. “Obviously, the drug industry has an interest in anything that will provide a steady stream of government money to pay for their products.”
Lesson for the election and beyond: follow the money, look for the full story, then make your judgment.