**Written by Doug Powers
“I will finally end the abuse of no-bid contracts once and for all. The days of sweetheart deals for Halliburton and the like will be over when I’m in the White House.” – Senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama, October 2, 2008
Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars being given to an experimental project involving high cost, questionable necessity and a major party donor — Why does that sound so familiar?
From the Los Angeles Times:
Over the last year, the Obama administration has aggressively pushed a $433-million plan to buy an experimental smallpox drug, despite uncertainty over whether it is needed or will work.
Senior officials have taken unusual steps to secure the contract for New York-based Siga Technologies Inc., whose controlling shareholder is billionaire Ronald O. Perelman, one of the world’s richest men and a longtime Democratic Party donor.
When Siga complained that contracting specialists at the Department of Health and Human Services were resisting the company’s financial demands, senior officials replaced the government’s lead negotiator for the deal, interviews and documents show.
When Siga was in danger of losing its grip on the contract a year ago, the officials blocked other firms from competing.
Siga was awarded the final contract in May through a “sole-source” procurement in which it was the only company asked to submit a proposal. The contract calls for Siga to deliver 1.7 million doses of the drug for the nation’s biodefense stockpile. The price of approximately $255 per dose is well above what the government’s specialists had earlier said was reasonable, according to internal documents and interviews.
In addition to being a major party donor, Perelman also coughed up $50,000 to help fund Obama’s inauguration bash. But Perelman also dabbles in Republicans. The prudent billionaire always hedges his bets.
The Times goes on to point out that smallpox was eradicated globally in 1978 but the virus does exist in labs in the US and Russia. Siga’s drug isn’t a vaccine, but a pill that’s supposed to help people who have been exposed to the virus for too long of a period of time to be aided by a vaccine. The pill is on top of the smallpox vaccine stockpile the US already has on hand — and the drug has never been tested on human beings (who wants to be first in line for that one?).
Forget about smallpox — we need a vaccine against crony capitalism.
**Written by Doug Powers
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