- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 11, 2000

Congressman and study a pill to drug manufacturers

The study done at the request of Rep. Pete Stark, a career critic of the U.S. pharmaceutical industry, is still another politically motivated attempt to impose price controls on America's most innovative, research-intensive industry ("Drug manufacturers dispute report on industry's low tax rate," Dec. 30).

The study is flawed in many ways. For example, it uses worldwide income but only domestic U.S. taxes, a classic apples vs. oranges comparison. Moreover, most of the "tax relief" cited by the study stems from the foreign tax credit, which is not a "tax benefit" but a protection available to all industries against double taxation. Another tax credit addressed, the credit for manufacturing in Puerto Rico, is rapidly being phased out. The other tax credits the research and development (R&D;) tax credit and the orphan drug tax credit were devised by Congress to promote more research and help find treatments for rare diseases. The tax credits are working. Last year alone, pharmaceutical companies increased their investment in R&D; by 14 percent and in the decade after the orphan drug credit took effect, 99 medicines were made available to patients with rare diseases compared with 10 the decade before.

Mr. Stark proposes to punish the pharmaceutical industry by taking away these tax credits, even though his own report warns that if taxes on the industry are raises, drug companies would not be able to undertake as many research projects.

This and other punitive proposals are the wrong way to address a real problem; lack of access to lifesaving, life-enhancing medicines by a significant number of Americans, particularly about one-third of seniors. To set the record straight, the pharmaceutical industry fully supports expanding Medicare drug coverage for seniors. Coverage provides both help in paying medicine bills and access to price discounts freely negotiated in the private sector. Other moves such as attempts to impose price controls or other mechanisms would hurt, rather than help, patients.

ALAN F. HOLMER

President and chief executive officer

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America

Washington

History will put Clinton legacy into perspective

President Clinton's revels are almost ended. But rest assured: Between now and Jan. 20, 2001, we can expect him to make the most of every opportunity to take credit for our peace and prosperity.

Years from now, however, historians likely will have a different view, seeing Mr. Clinton for what he truly is a caretaker president. Like President Bush before him, Mr. Clinton has enjoyed the fruits of Ronald Reagan's historic labors a sound economy at home and the collapse of communism abroad.

Like the typical baby boomer, Mr. Clinton has been spared the heavy lifting, the hard work, the sacrifice that made this shining moment possible. Instead of expressing humility and gratitude for the good times, Mr. Clinton looks around and thinks they are his doing. He would be wise to read Tom Brokaw's "Greatest Generation" or re-read the last lines of "King Lear," which seem a fitting epitaph for the heroic World War II generation: "The oldest hath borne most: we that are young/ Shall never see so much, nor live so long."

MARC BEAUCHAMP

Falls Church

Reader defends our national anthem's uniqueness

In response to Parrish S. Knight's letter, allow me to offer some common-sense reasons why "The Star-Spangled Banner" has been and remains the best choice for our national anthem ("Common-sense reasons to say bye-bye to 'Banner,' " Jan. 1).

First, it was born of a critical moment in our nation's formative years when, for the second time in a half-century, our forefathers had the temerity to stand up and defeat the then-most powerful nation on earth.

Second, the anthem courageously, yet respectfully and hopefully, ties the moment to the symbol of the best this nation stands for, the flag of the United States of America. It was written contemporaneously at the time its author was on a ship seeking from the British the freedom of another of his countrymen. There he witnessed the fighting at Fort McHenry.

Third, when we sing the "Star Spangled Banner," its words focus our attention on our flag and that for which it stands.

Fourth, in years of listening to national anthems played during the Olympics and other international events, I have heard none that compare. More importantly, all the others are paeans to the beauty of their nations. Ours is unique. It calls forth a dangerous moment in our history where courage, integrity, determination and the love of liberty persevered. It would be a cruel error to substitute any mere song of praise, no matter how elegant, for our national anthem, making us merely one of the crowd.

ROBERT WEBB

Washington

Article leaves Sierra Club hot

An article by The Washington Times wildly mischaracterizes the Sierra Club's interest and activities in the presidential race ("Sierra Club hammers Gore's 'tawdry' environmental record," Jan. 7). The Times irresponsibly and recklessly portrays a discussion memo representing the individual views of a single Sierra Club board member. Contrary to the misleading headline, the Sierra Club has not yet taken a position or made an endorsement of any candidate running for president. In fact, the Sierra Club's Political Committee has barely begun the democratic process it uses to make such an important decision. Despite the implications of The Times' article, the Sierra Club believes that Vice President Al Gore and former Sen. Bill Bradley both generally have strong records protecting our air, water and land.

Mr. Gore and Mr. Bradley had very good environmental voting records as U.S. senators. Both were leaders in addressing pressing environmental problems: Mr. Gore in fighting airborne toxic pollution and protecting the ozone layer; Mr. Bradley in reforming California water policy and protecting the Tongass National Forest in Alaska.

The article includes some inaccurate statements about Mr. Gore's record as vice president. He was a guiding hand behind the administration's Clean Water Action plan, which will provide more than $2 billion to help fight water pollution. The Sierra Club applauded Mr. Gore's announcement that as president he would halt new oil drilling off of the California and Florida coasts. In contrast, it was President George Bush and then Florida Commerce Secretary Jeb Bush who approved the Chevron leases for oil and gas exploration off the Florida coast. Mr. Gore was instrumental in preparing President Clinton's proposal to protect 40 million acres of roadless wilderness areas in our national forests the largest public lands protection proposal in two decades. And on Dec. 21, President Clinton and Mr. Gore delivered a Christmas present to the American people by requiring significant reductions in the amount of air pollution from motor vehicles and their fuels in order to fight smog.

The similarity of their records, and the need to fully solicit the views of Sierra Club members were the reasons the board of directors did not intend to act on any endorsement at its regularly scheduled quarterly board meeting back in November. In addition, it hopes that all of the presidential candidates will address three pressing 21st century environmental questions:

m What binding, concrete emissions reductions would they advocate to fight global warming?

m How would they fix international trade agreements and rules to enhance environmental protection worldwide, rather than allowing them to continue to harm our air, water, forests and climate?

m What policies would they advocate to help shift the United States to a 21st century economy that reduces its heavy dependence on natural resource extraction and combustion?

Poll after poll, and election after election, indicates the American people want a clean and safe environment for their families and their future. The next president will be responsible for fulfilling this strong public desire. The Sierra Club will undertake a thorough analysis and democratic process before it makes this critical endorsement decision.

CHUCK MCGRADY

President

Sierra Club

Flat Rock, N.C.

KEN BRAME

Chair

Political Committee

Sierra Club

Nashville

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