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The Homeland Security Act

Eli Lilly Payback Provision in the
Homeland Security Bill

The conservative argument in favor of the special Eli Lilly Payback Provision of the Homeland Security bill is essentially this: there's no scientific evidence linking the vaccine preservative thimerosal to autism--only anecdotal (which is true).

The evil trial lawyers, however, will use this anecdotal evidence to bankrupt, I tell you, bankrupt the pharmaceutical industry, and then when the terrorists unleash smallpox or some other biological agent upon us, we'll have no vaccines with which to protect ourselves, because the pharmaceutical companies will have all closed up shop and gone home.

Of course, this imaginative justification still doesn't explain why the provision was added to the bill at the last minute under cover of darkness, nor why Trent Lott had to promise to "revisit" the issue because even moderate Republicans blanched at passing the bill with this provision intact.

Nor does it address some other interesting points Bob Herbert brought up yesterday:

" Now this has nothing to do with homeland security. Nothing. This is not a provision that will in any way protect us from the ferocious evil of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. So why is it there? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the major drug companies have become a gigantic collective cash machine for politicians, and that the vast majority of that cash goes to Republicans.

Or maybe it's related to the fact that Mitch Daniels, the White House budget director, is a former Eli Lilly big shot. Or the very convenient fact that just last June President Bush appointed Eli Lilly's chairman, president and C.E.O., Sidney Taurel, to a coveted seat on the president's Homeland Security Advisory Council.

There's a real bad smell here. Eli Lilly will benefit greatly as both class-action and individual lawsuits are derailed. But there are no fingerprints in sight. No one will own up to a legislative deed that is both cynical and shameful.

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