Johnson & Johnson CEO William C. Weldon Defends Pro-ObamaCare and "Cap-and-Trade" Lobbying; Pledges to Disclose Amount of Company Funds Given to PhRMA to Lobby for ObamaCare
Pfizer CEO Says Sums Given to PhRMA for ObamaCare Lobbying "Not Available" to Him; Volunteers that ObamaCare is "Reasonably Consistent" with Principles Pfizer Advocated
Washington, DC - Johnson & Johnson Chairman and CEO William C. Weldon agreed Thursday to disclose the exact amount his company gave to the drug lobby group PhRMA to promote ObamaCare, while Pfizer CEO Jeff Kindler said ObamaCare legislation adopted by Congress is "reasonably consistent with the principles we advocated" in the health care debate.
These responses and others came in response to questions from Dr. Tom Borelli, Deneen Borelli and Justin Danhof of the National Center for Public Policy Research, who inquired about the companies' justification for supporting the unpopular legislation through the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) lobby group at the companies' annual stockholder meetings. Johnson & Johnson was also asked about its support for controversial cap-and-trade legislation through its membership in the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) lobby.
The National Center for Public Policy Research owns Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer stock.
"The drug industry was largely responsible for passage of ObamaCare. Shareholders and consumers of Johnson & Johnson products have a right to know how much of their money was contributed to the $150 million ad campaign that its trade group used to advertise Obama's plan," said Dr. Borelli, director of the National Center's Free Enterprise Project. "Johnson & Johnson consumers who oppose ObamaCare should take note on how their money was used against their values."
"In August 2009, the New York Times reported that PhRMA and the drug industry authorized its lobbyists to spend $150 million to advertise and promote ObamaCare. When I asked Pfizer Chairman and CEO Jeff Kindler how much of this was Pfizer money, Mr. Kindler ducked the question, but when I asked him if Pfizer would suffer a backlash from its support of the President health care bill, he volunteered that the health care legislation adopted is "not perfect, but, by and large, the bill that emerged was reasonably consistent with the principles we advocated," said Justin Danhof, director of the National Center's legal projects.
In response to Dr. Borelli, Johnson & Johnson Chairman Weldon said, in part, "[w]e feel that there are things that would be very good for the people of America that are in ObamaCare..." Weldon also said extra dues were assessed from Johnson & Johnson and other PhRMA members to promote ObamaCare, and that "somebody could get that" exact amount to Borelli.
Weldon also said, "I don't think there is any reputational damage" due to the company's lobbying for ObamaCare's passage.
Responding to another National Center for Public Policy Research question, from Deneen Borelli, full-time fellow of the National Center-sponsored Project 21 African-American leadership group, Weldon defended Johnson & Johnson's continued support of the lobbying efforts of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) to enact "cap-and-trade" emissions regulations, which are expected to raise consumer prices and destroy jobs domestically.
Mrs. Borelli had pointed out to Weldon that "you have a roomful of wonderful senior citizens who are most likely on [a] fixed income" and that "consumers will most likely not be able to afford your premium products" as a result of cap-and-trade's effects on the economy. Weldon said Johnson & Johnson has saved money thanks to the company's conversion to "alternative sources" of energy and said the company philosophy is "the health of people is tied directly to the environment." He did not, however, address the company's membership in USCAP directly.
"It's clear Johnson & Johnson is acting like an agent for President Obama," said Mrs. Borelli. "In addition to playing a major role in passing ObamaCare, Johnson & Johnson is also effectively lobbying for the President's cap-and-trade energy policy through USCAP. The public should hold Johnson & Johnson CEO William C. Weldon responsible for his role in diminishing our liberties. Not only will the quality of our health care suffer, but -- should cap-and-trade pass -- we are going to bear the burden of higher energy prices and reduced disposable income."