consultants are sandburs

Friday, March 24, 2017

March 23, 2017, Bloomberg headlining, "Trump Dares GOP in High-Stakes Vote on Troubled Health Bill." March 24 Reuters online headline; "Risky House healthcare vote to test Trump's negotiating skills." Is dot connecting feasible, despite uncertainty, given aspects reported of an earlier Trump White House meeting with boss honchos of Big Pharma - a meeting not with a bang but a whimper? [with UPDATES]

Not that the Big Pharma big-wigs were whimpering; not that at all. More later tying that in, but a hypothetical is only as good as time proves it correct or in error.

The two headline stories: Negotiations are over let's you guys vote, here for Bloomberg, here for Reuters. Readers should check each. Also, this websearch. So, why might Trump be casting down the gauntlet on Ryancare? Any guess is only a guess, remember that above all. Unless/until there is a final and definitive vote it will be in play among the bookies. Yet, perhaps if listening carefully, you might be able to hear the ever streaming Theme From High Noon as the media-loved ultimatum background music for the thing playing out among House stalwarts.

This arguably is a "money quote" from the Bloomberg report, mid-item, bolded subheadline included:

Then Trump aides, including senior strategist Steve Bannon, went to Capitol Hill to deliver a message in person to House leaders and the Republican caucus that the president has run out of patience: Trump wanted a vote Friday, win or lose, even if that means leaving Obamacare in place.

‘No More Negotiations’

“We have to have a vote tomorrow. He expects it to pass,” Representative Chris Collins of New York said, speaking about Trump. “We are done negotiating, there are no more negotiations.”

“If it loses, we just move on to tax reform,” added Collins, a Trump ally.

House conservatives, including Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows, emerged from the meeting saying they were still leaning against the bill, but were still evaluating the final package.

Meadows said late Thursday “I’m a no” for now, but said members had been given “a binary choice” and that he will talk with other members before making a final decision.

Try a Google = Tom Price Chris Collins Australian Pharmaceutical

Or use this prepackaged websearch, for results.

Yes, that Chris Collins, in the proffered "money quote."

Back to the opening sentence, Trump's White House pow-wow with big-wigs of the Drug Industrial Complex. Apparently a peace pipe was enjoyed by all. See, e.g., this websearch, checking out the first two hits; WaPo here; Business Journal here. WaPo beginning:

Since the early days of his campaign, President Trump vocally criticized rising drug prices. Occasionally, he faulted the government's inability to negotiate directly on drugs purchased through Medicare, a practice prohibited by law.

But in a meeting Tuesday with pharmaceutical executives, Trump's words were less clear. The executives say, behind closed doors, Trump never brought up government intervention on drug pricing. Meanwhile, Trump's public remarks were loaded with conflicting signals.

Before he closed the meeting-room door, Trump called for lowering “astronomical” drug prices but didn't specify how. Instead, he said that he would oppose “price-fixing” in Medicare — a term conservatives use critically to describe what would happen if the government were to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies.

Some said it was a clear reversal of Trump's policy position. But Trump also said he wanted “bidding wars” and told an anecdote about how he could buy aspirin at a pharmacy counter for cheaper than the U.S. government, which he pointedly called “the biggest purchaser of drugs anywhere in the world by far.”

During a later media briefing, in response to a request to clarify the president's drug-price plan, White House press secretary Sean Spicer criticized the “bureaucracy” that held back government programs such as Medicare from bargaining.

“He is a successful businessman and a top-notch negotiator,” Spicer said of Trump. “You've got such purchasing power that's not being utilized to the full extent.”

If that's not an endorsement of the status quo, what is it? Business Journal began:

Trump, who has previously said pharmaceutical companies are "getting away with murder," seemed to temper his statements Tuesday, according to media reports from the White House.

The CEOs of Novartis, Merck, Johnson & Johnson, Lilly, Celgene, and Amgen attended the meeting along with the head of the industry's lobbying group, PhRMA.

Here's what went down:

-- The president reiterated his interest in bringing drug prices down in the US, especially for Medicare and Medicaid. "The US drug companies have produced extraordinary results for our country, but the pricing has been astronomical for our country," Trump said. "We have to do better."
-- Trump said medical products needed to be made in the US, and Trump called on the drugmakers to increase their US production.
-- Trump also said he wanted other countries to pay "their fair share" for US-made drugs, saying he wanted to end "global freeloading."
-- He also made comments about the Food and Drug Administration, saying he intended to streamline the drug-approval process and that he intended to announce his nomination for commissioner soon.
-- For their part, the drug-company executives asked for tax reform.

PhRMA's president, Steve Ubl, said on Twitter that the meeting was "positive" and "productive," especially when it came to growing the industry.

They not only passed the peace pipe on the status quo being a go, they inhaled. Taking a good deep "tax reform" puff for good measure.

So, if a Friday House vote kicks the can to the Senate, Trump wins. He can say, calling out against delay worked. If a Friday House session votes down Ryancare, it can be tarted up, lipstick put on that pig, and used again to divert attention from military activity in Syria, or whatever. Trump can say, okay, I pushed it, the Tea Party faction killed reform, so it is their fault, not mine, not the Speaker's.

Consider the clear possibility - Big Pharma likes Obamacare just as it is. Their ox from the outset was not gored, never close, Big Pharma reform as with Universal Care or "the single payer option" were not merely DOA, but killed in the get-go. The special interests got their special privileges sailed through intact.

Now, presume that the shake-out is Big Pharma liking Obamacare as a status quo but asking for emasculation of the FDA and "give us tax breaks" was a part of the meeting theme.

Then, a sabotage of Obamacare by amateurs, i.e., Ryancare, might be an uncertainty against their interests; i.e., the Pharma industry does not need nor want the threat of change. And Trump? What might be the next dot in a straight line with the two already there, the earlier Big Pharma pow wow behind closed doors; and the ultimatum, binary choice - do it now?

Well, in analyzing that question speculation is what it is, so that multiple scenarios may be guessed in or out. One possibility, which might surprise some if happening, could reflect back to the Business Journal pow wow sentence, "The CEOs of Novartis, Merck, Johnson & Johnson, Lilly, Celgene, and Amgen attended the meeting along with the head of the industry's lobbying group, PhRMA." Novartis, Merck, Johnson & Johnson, Lilly, Celgene, and Amgen; or any one of them or some combination among them might soon announce marketing plans for an "Ivanka" line of weight loss and mood attenuating pharmaceuticals, for which Steve Bannon would tour the nation (in his unofficial private citizen's capacity) visiting clinics and pharmacies to suggest the line be not only carried, but featured.

Again, guesses are only as good as time may prove; and multiple differing scenarios might play out. Predicting the future is never a guarantee, not in a securities prospectus, nor in a blog post. There is no infallable crystal ball.

Likelihoods might be uncertain going into an analysis, but time will tell.

For any/all the Trump voters out there enthused by the pre-election promising but now suffering Big Time buyer's remorse; tune time, time will tell. How about tune time for Big Pharma and its bond to Trump?

FURTHER: What about that first bite at the Trump budget apple? Screw the welfare of the working people, stoke the war machine. There's money in war. More on that, perhaps, in some future post at some uncertain time.

___________FURTHER UPDATE____________
The appearance on Saturday, after the vote that never happened, is Trump being ready to move onto his agenda after Ryan had his agenda tested - Ryancare with its day in the sun. It, Ryancare, never had the votes to pass even in the Republican infested House, Trump acted as the good party soldier lobbying Congressmen on Ryan's behalf, but in the end it really was not Trump's deal; always, instead, Ryan's and Pence's, with Pence keeping his characteristic nasty but low profile. It, Ryancare, is like one of those plants - the corpse flower - that exists quiescent most of the time, blooms briefly, and quickly dies back into quiescence again, while, as in the past week in full bloom it stinks as Wikipedia describes:

In cultivation, the titan arum generally requires 7–10 years of vegetative growth before blooming for the first time. After its initial blooming, there can be considerable variation in blooming frequency. Some plants may not bloom again for another 7–10 years while others may bloom every two to three years.[11] There have also been documented cases of back-to-back blooms occurring within a year [...] As the spathe gradually opens, the spadix releases powerful odors to attract pollinators, insects which feed on dead animals or lay their eggs in rotting meat. The potency of the odor (aroma) gradually increases from late evening until the middle of the night, when carrion beetles and flesh flies are active as pollinators, then tapers off towards morning.[18] Analyses of chemicals released by the spadix show the “stench” includes dimethyl trisulfide (like limburger cheese), dimethyl disulfide, trimethylamine (rotting fish), isovaleric acid (sweaty socks), benzyl alcohol (sweet floral scent), phenol (like Chloraseptic), and indole (like human feces).

Ryancare in a nutshell. Perfectly described. In full resplendent flowering it stands out, big and ugly and stinky, as tall as Ryan himself when either is in full bloom, hard to miss, having its short bloom time when the carrion insects flock to pollinate it, with that bloom lasting at least longer than Ryan's self-reported but unsubstantiated marathon time, (having an identical smell).

___________FURTHER UPDATE____________
If an Ivanka big pharma product line would be too great a reach; those monied mentioned pill operations could, be it one or several, decide to open branch offices at quite friendly rates in Trump real estate locations; which would of course be isolated from Pres. Donald by the Chinese Wall between him and his two sons running in name now the entire Trump empire.

Perhaps 666 Fifth Street Avenue might gain traction if opportune tenancies or tenancy commitments develop, in pure coincidence, after the vote that was not. There are a million stories in the Naked City.

___________FURTHER UPDATE____________
Of a portentious street address number,

sidebar synopsis to a Google

All we know is what we can read on the web; e.g. from the Google return list (rendering and all), stating in part:

One of the most risible qualities of 666 Fifth is bound to go overlooked, given the fog of influence-peddling and fascist spectacle concealing it. That is its potential use of EB-5 financing, an immigration program that has secured hundreds of millions in development for luxury real estate in exchange for visas for (mostly Chinese) foreign investors. The cash-for-visas program, which was the subject of House Judiciary Committee hearing in February, has garnered intense congressional scrutiny at a time when the Trump administration is closing U.S. borders for Muslims (and their laptops) as well as undocumented immigrants.

As it was originally designed, the EB-5 cash-for-visas program was meant to draw foreign direct investment to rural and distressed urban projects. Congress has pledged to take steps to either bring the immigration category back in line with its original intent or scrap it altogether. But Kushner’s interest in securing easy money for 666 Fifth could presage a White House defense of the beleaguered program. Specifically, a defense of EB-5 as a way to trade U.S. visas for Chinese investment in luxury real estate.

If plans for the 666 Fifth tower proceed, it will not be completed before 2025 at the earliest. By then, the president’s second term in the White House will have potentially just concluded. We might (or might not) have a big, beautiful border wall to stand as a concrete monument to his extraordinary administration, and all it represented. But no single Trump-era deal will show so neatly how the devil’s children have the devil’s luck quite like 666 Fifth.

[links omitted, hyperbole apparent] And add to what we read on the web, there is what video presents; e.g. an item believed pre-election; and not a recent expression.

Is ginning up leverage but one art of a deal? Asked another way, what does that 666 rendering look like, as a message to you and other regular ordinary citizens? Again, what part of 666 meanderings are China-centric, and where's "our government" these days on China bashing? Toe the 666 line, or the bully pulpit remains as yet another art of a deal? What? Who's Anbang? A currency manipulator, or just offshore corporate good guys chasing profits in the American Dream?

____________FURTHER UPDATE_____________
More Anbang for the buck: Things 666 seem to be heating recently, with days-ago reports online, here and here. At least one 2015 item was easily found so this might be a back-burner thing now, for unknown reasons, coming to a head or at the least gaining new attention. Relying on a design originating with a dead architect but with a living firm continuing, it is interesting, beastly number and all. The firm itself, per post election reporting apart from mention of Trump, has had some fire in its belly. Trump and affiliates sure can pick 'em.

This item from days ago concludes:

The building will require a substantial redesign of the existing structural core to accommodate an additional 40 stories, a task to be resolved by London-based Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) which recently circulated a rendering of the ambitious 1,400-foot-tall tower. ZHA has been signed up for the project since 2015 and later this year will wrap construction on its first project in New York City, a residential building adjacent to the High Line. If all goes as intended, demolition will begin in 2019 with a desired completion by 2025.

The wording, "London-based Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) which recently circulated a rendering of the ambitious 1,400-foot-tall tower," augers for a movement, front-burner, of the stalled project.

Further coverage days ago, by, here and then putting faces on the rendering here, present a skeptical view. We await further word from the White House about currency manipulations, and suitable sanctions, if any, for manipulating nations.

One also might wonder whether a long term tenancy commitment for the project from global corporate giants, say Eli Lilly and/or Exxon Mobil, might be the kick needed to put the project over the hump - from plan to profits. Not that any online report of any such development has been found. To the contrary it is a pure hypothetical, but one with imagination.

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