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.