Free Lunch

How the wealthiest Americans enrich themselves at government expense (and stick you with the bill)

Scully's new job: as a lobbyist working out of the Alston & Brad law firm, whose roster of drug company lobbying clients runs from Abbot and Aventis through Merck to ZLB Behring.

A few weeks later Miles D. White, chairman of Abbott Laboratories and the trade association called Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America came to Washington for an announcement. White said that the industry had hired Representative Tauzin, the Louisiana Republican who was part of Thomas's backroom "Coalition of the Killing," to pass the drug bill, as its new chief lobbyist.

"This industry understands that it's got a problem, it has to earn the trust and confidence of consumers again," Tauzin said, White agreeing with him. In his new job as chief Washington lobbyist for the industry that will collect $720 billion in 10 years because the government is barred from negotiating for lower prices, Tauzin will do quite well. His salary, it was widely reported, is more than $2.5 million per year. And to keep on getting free lunches from the taxpayers, Tauzin will have a budget of more than $100 million a year to lobby Congress on behalf of the drug companies.