POISON PILL….Ah, the Medicare bill. The three-hour vote in the wee hours of the morning. The attempted bribery of congressman Nick Smith. The Bush administration’s deliberate lies about the bill’s ultimate cost. The budgetary chicanery that resulted in the infamous donut hole. The millions of dollars funneled to the cause by the pharmaceutical industry, which was desperate to make sure that the bill prevented the government from negotiating drug prices.

Hmmm. The pharmaceutical industry. Who did they funnel all their dough through? You’ll be unsurprised to learn that a considerable part of it, at least, was funneled through none other than Jack Abramoff and friends. Barbara Dreyfuss tells the story this month in “Poison Pill”:

It?s well known that in his crusade to pass the bill, [Tom] DeLay drew on more than 800 pharmaceutical-industry lobbyists, millions of dollars in campaign contributions, and the efforts of numerous business and healthcare groups. But this grossly flawed legislation could never have passed without the help of the same players who were central to Abramoff?s lobbying operation: Tony Rudy and Ed Buckham. Using a nest of nonprofits flush with corporate cash, the discredited lobbyists played a vital, albeit hidden, role in whittling down congressional opposition to the bill for more than a year before the final vote.

Read the whole thing for all the grim details.

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