November 9th, 2009
10:40 AM ET
4 years ago

Armey says health care reform will kill innovation

Armey says the health care reform bill will stifle innovation.
Armey says the health care reform bill will stifle innovation.

(CNN) - Dick Armey, the former House majority leader whose leadership of FreedomWorks has proved vital to organizing opposition to Democrats' health care reform efforts, told CNN Monday the recently-passed House health care bill could cripple the entire pharmaceutical industry.

"You go right back to Shakespeare, who first said, 'If it can't be sold for a profit, it's not worth writing,' or take Thomas Edison's reiteration of it, 'If it can't be sold for a profit, it's not worth inventing,'" Armey told CNN's John Roberts on American Morning. "If the government is going to control what it is, whether it can be distributed, what it is, what price it can be sold, you will disincentive the whole process of research. We've seen it before and we'll see it again."

The Texas Republican also said the government should not force health insurance companies to insure individuals who have not been responsible with their own health.

"Now [the government] comes along and says, 'Irrespective of the fact they've gone 20, 30, 40 years of their adult life without ever having bought insurance prior to getting a liver inflammation due to their excessive drinking habits or diabetes because they eat like a pig, you must now insure them,'" Armey said.

"At what point do we allow the government to order people that you must sell your product to this person or that person, irrespective of any good judgment?" he added. "We saw what happened in housing when they ordered banks to make loans to people who weren't qualified. Are we now going to have the same destructive influences in health care because we're going to order doctors to provide services and so forth?"

Armey also addressed the future of the Republican Party in light of events in a special congressional election in New York, in which conservatives pushed out the Republican running in favor of a more conservative third-party candidate. Ultimately, a Democrat carried the district, the first time in more than 125 years the party has won there.

Armey, who backed Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, drew local headlines himself in that race after blasting an editorial board's questions on upstate New York issues - questions Hoffman had struggled to answer - as "parochial."

"The Conservative Party nominated the small government conservative, he got in the race late and he caught and passed her," Armey said Monday. "She dropped out, endorsed the Democrat. If the Republican Party or if the Conservative candidate had a little more time, he might have won that.

"But the Republican Party's got to decide whether or not they're going to be the 'me too' party, somewhat schizophrenic, half the party acting like us, the other half acting like them. Or are they going to be the big tent party that builds themselves around a national concept of small governance, fiscal conservatism, and has a broad appeal, as it did with Goldwater, as it did with Reagan," he said.


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soundoff (187 Responses)
  1. David

    To answer Armey's "eat like a pig" argument, the insurance companies forced the auto companies to put automated seat belts in all cars. Why can't they force the food companies to stop targeting children with sugary and fatty foods?

    November 9, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  2. ann

    Someone needs to point out to Armey that the government pays the pharmaceutical companies to research and develop new drugs. I can't believe John Roberts let him get away with that whopper...oh, wait, yes I can.

    November 9, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  3. Terry from West Texas

    Oh, and I forgot to mention ...

    Even Dick Armey should be ashamed to repeat the incredible lie that Ronald Reagan reduced the size of government and practiced fiscal responsibility. In fact, the federal government, its budget, and the national debt grew at an unprecedented rate as soon as Reagan became President. The last Carter budget spent $504 billion with a deficit of almost $41 billion. By the end of Reagan's two terms, the federal budget was $991 billion with a deficit of $205 billion.

    The idea that Reagan reduced government, reduced government spending, or was fiscally responsible is a devious lie. Google it. The GOP is lying to your face.

    November 9, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  4. Sue, Vienna, VA

    I take extreme exception to Mr. Armey's comment that "people with diabetes eat like a pig". My mother and brother both suffered from diabetes (my brother a juvenile diabetic), and I assure you it wasn't that they ate like a pig – my mother modeled for a Palm Beach coutourier and was model-thin and my brother was thin as well. To make such a hasty generalization about such an insidious disease is both ignorant and appalling! The changes I have witnessed in the republican party over the last several years has been nothing short of epic, and just when I think they can't get anymore odious, they do!!

    November 9, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  5. Black Viper

    Armey told CNN's John Roberts on American Morning. "If the government is going to control what it is, whether it can be distributed, what it is, what price it can be sold, you will disincentive the whole process of research. We've seen it before and we'll see it again.

    It's the same way the GOP is advocation for the government to control women life through federal ban of abortion. Talking about personal liberties we have no lesson to learn from the party of Hypocrites.

    November 9, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  6. Jessica Poole

    So, if it can't be healed for a profit, it's not worth healing? That makes about as much sense as charging seniors for their wrinkles.

    November 9, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  7. Marty

    Somebody must be paying Dick Armey and Newt Gringrich well. They just don't seem to be able to shut up. They are out of touch with average Americans.

    November 9, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  8. Alfredo

    Let's take Armey's Health Care and ask the same question in a few years..

    November 9, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  9. ghostwriter

    He does make a good point. I don't believe folks with existing conditions should pay the same amount. But the reason seems to be that hospitals must care for anyone that hits their doorstep. Unless that changes, we should at least attempt to make sure that everyone (citizens, that is) has coverage.

    November 9, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  10. m jeff

    Dick, you are former, so please just go away. your vote does not count anymore.

    November 9, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  11. Blutarski

    When Speaker Pelosi states that this health care bill will "provide coverage to 36 million Americans", she is lying. That is like saying that the State of Massachusetts is providing auto insurance to all uninsured motorists by making it illegal not to have it. It is not something that is being given to you by the Government, it is something the Government is forcing you, or your employer to buy. How is that "providing" you anything? Yes, there may be a million here or there that will get taxpayer provided coverage, because they can not purchase insurance on their own, but not the 36 million figure she is tossing around.

    November 9, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  12. g

    if i was a republican and had any of the conditions he talked about with out facts i would not be a republican any more, spitting in the windis what they do best

    November 9, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  13. Macho Macho

    I say pass the healthcare reform so the "have not" can have affordable health care, then sit back and watch as they starve to death because no one has a job to pay taxes to fund their food stamps and government entitlement vouchers! Government's idea of job creation is to make more Government jobs, paid for by taxing those with jobs, so tax funded jobs being taxed to pay for tax funded jobs to be taxed for paying tax funded jobs.....

    November 9, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  14. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert but...

    Oh please. The government controls the military, but there's no lack of innovation when it comes to inventing interesting new ways to kill people. More fear tactics from those who profit greatly from the status quo. Have a nice day!

    November 9, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  15. Vietnam Veteran (DC)

    Armey is brought and paid for by big insurance and any other business that stands to lose their outragious profits if the health insurance bill is passed, desperately needed by thousands of americans who are suffering and dying due to lack of insurance, remember the saying, you can put lip stick on a pig, he is still a pig, enough said.

    November 9, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  16. Conserva-Baggers are bad for America

    Fear mongering, fear mongering, fear mongering, fear mongering . . . that's all they've got.

    November 9, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  17. Eric

    Shakespeare never said that. You are a liar, Mr. Armey. Maybe I would have been open to your ideas but to lie so deliberately about something so easily researched shows you have contempt for the common man. Thus I have contempt for you. Go away and make money for yourself doing something good, not by being a parasite to an already struggling insurance industry.

    November 9, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  18. JohnH

    Not all diabetics ate like a "pig" to precipitate the disease. There are reasons that may not be tied to eating that triggers diabetes.

    November 9, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  19. Shelley Heard

    So if sex can't be sold for a profit, it is not worth having??? I would say that health care, like sex, is best managed without the profit motive.

    November 9, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  20. chelle

    Yeah and he looks like a really healthy person himself....like he's looked after himself...oh wait – he's got the sweetest healthcare plan in the whole country...lets take that away from him and see how he fares in the real world!

    November 9, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  21. M

    This is totally brutal and animalistic to refuse insurance to anyone irrespective of whatever they have done. Insurance should also educate about good eating habits etc.

    I don't know what this guy was smoking when making these comments. It is inhumane to refuse treatment (or insurance) just because of their past.

    November 9, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  22. Gary -Texas

    Sarah Sarah Sarah .. keep up the good work .. you are helping Democrates all accross the Nation .. atta girl!

    November 9, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  23. Anonymous

    typical comment from someone who has all of their medical costs covered by the tax payer for his entire career. Listen Dick I mean Senator Armey if the problem is only people who abuse their bodies are now getting taxpayer provided health insurance their never would have been an arguement. The problem is the that those of us who are working to pay for your health insurance simply want coverage we can afford since you have coverage we cant afford but pay for anyway. now we need to pass a bill that allows us taxpayers to vote in our own wage increases every four years and we will be all set. God bless you on your next election campaign

    November 9, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  24. Dude in Colorado

    "If it can't be sold for a profit, it isn't worth inventing"?!

    To me, at least, this speaks volumes about executives in the pharmaceutical industry rather than H.R. 3962. These execs are not in the business of making widgets or Model-Ts, they produce medicines for sick people. These people are morally, ethically, and even legally, an extention of the medical industry whose first priority is and should be always the patient's needs!

    Besides, good drugs will always make a profit, like any good product; the CEOs may just have to give up making 50-60 times what the factory floor worker makes a year.

    Oh well, just more fear mongering from the right wing. The gov't has been regulating the drug companies for years – its' called the FDA.

    Live in hope or live in fear, America. Its' your choice.

    November 9, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  25. Grundoon

    This guy wants everyone to listen to him and teh GOP when they have been wrong about everything from deregulation to the war(s) on terror. These jokers have screwed the pooch so bad they can't be trusted to lead in any way anymore! BTW, I have never voted a straight ticket in my life but will likely start now since the GOP has completely divorced themselves form reality! Their ideas are sauteed in wrong sauce.

    November 9, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
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