Wednesday, July 15, 2009

PhRMA Firing a Shot Across Tammy's Bow?

Just heard a very odd ad on the radio. It urged listeners to contact Tammy Baldwin and thank her for supporting biomedical research. The ad was paid for by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

PhRMA is the velvet glove of the big drug companies. It exists to increase drug company profits through coordinated PR campaigns and lobbying. PhRMA doesn't spend money without good reason, so why the heck would they be running ads praising Tammy? It's an off-year, and even if it wasn't, Tammy certainly doesn't need PhRMA's help. She's essentially unbeatable short of a Ensign-sized scandal.

Seems to me that PhRMA may just be reminding Tammy that they're keeping an eye on her. The ads, which are probably being run on more "liberal" stations, will undoubtedly prompt a bunch of phone calls to her office, and few things get a politician's attention like lots of constituent calls on one issue. While PhRMA undoubtedly knows that taking Tammy out would be extraordinarily difficult, they're playing the long game. Tammy is ambitious, and may well run for another office eventually. By flexing their muscles now, in a nice way, Pharma is making it very clear to Tammy not only how much muscle they have, but also that they're willing to use to use it for, or against, her down the road.


Jb said...

One of the nice things about being a lobby as big as PhRMA is that you don't have to worry about beating around the bush.

PhRMA actually has a lot invested in the growth of the biotech sector and when cities like Madison make a real push to improve their biotech infrastructures, PhRMA has an interest in promoting those efforts.

The message of the add seems pretty straight forward to me: "Hey Congresswoman Baldwin, keep those federal bucks coming for biotech firm in your district!"

Russell Wallace said...

Sure, but Tammy will continue supporting local biotech regardless of what PhRMA does, so if your interpretation is correct then PhRMA is basically throwing away their money. Maybe you think they're that nice, or dumb, but I sure don't.

PhRMA invests their resources where they'll maximize pharmaceutical industry profits. The fact that they're spending money here and now means that they expect to get some sort of return. The game is figuring out exactly what that is...

Anonymous said...

I heard the ad this morning and had the same "WTF" reaction. I can't imagine why they would spend money on this unless it was to intentionally slime Tammy by giving the impression she's working for big pharma.