The hypocrisy of drone regulations

Last week, a young man lost control of a drone he was operating, causing it to crash onto the South Lawn of the White House (“Drones crash onto White House agenda,” Jan. 29). Following this mishap, President Obama announced a plan for executive action that would place regulations on domestic drones. This announcement, though in reference to domestic commercial drones, demonstrates the administration’s hypocrisy when it comes to drones.

In the last decade, U.S. foreign policy has become increasingly dependent on drones for both surveillance and airstrikes. Despite events that have proven just how inaccurate drones can be — like the strike on a Yemeni wedding party in 2013 that killed 12 civilians — drone warfare has extended throughout Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq and Syria, ultimately killing innocent foreign civilians and Americans alike.

But that’s just what we know. The U.S. government often refuses to publicly acknowledge its drone program, let alone claim responsibility for the lives that have been lost due to this new kind of warfare. Without any systems of transparency and accountability, the administration has similarly failed to disclose how it identifies whom it can target.

While the announcement of drone regulations is welcome news, Americans need be cautious and critical of an administration that relies so deeply on them. Reform must come from the president as well as Congress, and it must address transparency and accountability both at home and abroad.

Washington, D.C. 

Price controls aren’t the answer

From Charles Coté, vice president, the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association

A recent post on The Hill’s Contributors Blog, by Robert Goldberg, (“Obama precision medicine plan blocked by insurers,” Jan. 29) attacks employers, unions, and government programs and attempts to turn a drug manufacturer pricing problem into a coverage problem.

It’s no secret that brand drug companies (and their assorted front groups) have long resented payers’ use of copays to encourage the use of generics. Without copays, consumers would have no incentive to select generics and would instead use branded drugs seen advertised on TV, allowing the drug industry to reap the profits. This scenario creates a windfall that would be funded by employers, unions and government programs who pay two-thirds the cost of health benefits. 

Instead of pushing for government price controls on employer health plans, drug companies should consider charging less.

Washington, D.C. 

Ball scandal tarnishes Super Bowl

From Norm Stewart

This was a Super Bowl that showed what the game is all about. The two best teams in the NFL, without a doubt, and the finale was better than anyone could have dreamed of, with a rookie winning the game. The one flaw was the arrogance of Patriots owner Robert Kraft defending the deflated ball story when we all know it happened. There was no other plausible explanation. Nothing happens in Patriots football that Bill Belichick does not know of. Subtle deception and canned words do not an explanation make. It only makes them look guilty. History will not forget “Deflategate.”

Aventura, Fla.