Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Thursday | December 19, 2002

Reward for ID of Eli Lilly bandit

The good folks over at Tom Paine are offering a $10,000 reward for the identification of the "Eli Lilly Bandit".

As you may recall, some enterprising Republican(s) did the following:

In November, as Congress finalized the legislation authorizing a new Department of Homeland Security, two paragraphs suddenly appeared in the bill giving drug maker Eli Lilly & Company something it desired: a shield from lawsuits by parents who claim the company's vaccines caused their children's autism.

The provision diverts those suits from state courts to a federal 'vaccine court' where damages are capped at $250,000 -- small compensation for a child's lifetime of medical care. And because any damages awarded by the vaccine court are paid by U.S. taxpayers, manufacturers are relieved of liability.

Arianna Huffington writes:
Everyone in D.C., it seems, is utterly baffled as to how an ugly little provision shielding pharmaceutical behemoth Eli Lilly from billions in lawsuits filed by the parents of autistic children made its way, in the 12th hour, into, of all things, the 475-page Homeland Security bill.

"It's a mystery to us," shrugged Eli Lilly spokesman Rob Smith.


It's a mystery to us, too, echoed spokesmen for the White House, the Department of Health and Human Services, and physician-turned-senator-turned-drug-company-shill Bill Frist, who had originally penned the Lilly-friendly provision for a different bill.

The haphazard lawmaking also proved baffling for pharmaceutical industry lobbyists, and for White House budget director Mitch Daniels, a former Lilly executive, who made a very public show of disavowing any knowledge of the amendment's mystifying genesis. Gosh, maybe the little provision just flew down from heaven. Or was immaculately conceived. Or maybe Osama bin Laden snuck over and planted the little public policy bomb himself.

The provision will likely get excised in the next Congress, as Stabenow, McCain, Kucinich and Burton (not exactly natural allies) are leading the charge to have it repealed. But still, the provision begs the question -- why won't anyone claim credit for the provision?

Our legislators should not be allowed to legislate under cover of darkness. Every line-item should have an author attached. How can we have accountability when narrow special interests can legislate against the common good without public scrutiny?

Hopefully, the good folks at TomPaine will ferret out the culprit. The GOP is reeling, let them take another hit for this travesty.

Posted December 19, 2002 08:24 AM | Comments (21)


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