Dumb Luck

Billy Tauzin is a politician, lawyer and lobbyist. Of Cajun descent, he was a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1972-1979 and the United States House of Representatives from 1980-2005, representing Louisiana's 3rd congressional district. In 1994, when the Democrats lost control of the House, Tauzin helped co-found the House Blue Dog Coalition, a group of moderate-to-conservative Democrats. Still considering conservatives unwelcome in the Democratic party, however, in 1995 Tauzin became a Republican, and the first American to have been part of the leadership of both parties in the House. From 2001-2004, Tauzin served as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. In 2005, the same day he left Congress and two months after having helped to pass the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill, Tauzin was named director of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, a trade group for pharmaceutical companies. Billy Tauzin is the original author of the Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1996 and the Cable Act, the only bills over the past ten years to become law despite Presidential veto. He received his BA from Nicholls State University in 1964 and his degree in law from Louisiana State University in 1967. He is currently a member of the Board of Directors for the Louisiana Healthcare Group.

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TRANSCRIPT

I was working as a pipe fitter’s helper in a shipyard the summer after graduation from Nicholls, trying to make a little money to go to law school – LSU. And got a call from my state senator who I had helped get elected to ask me if I would come to Baton Rouge and become his aid in the state Senate. I explained to him I couldn’t. I had just taken a job, and they had trained me, and I had bought some safety shoes, and I had an investment in this new job at the shipyard and couldn’t very well leave this early. And I remember getting off the phone and my dad said, “Who was that?” and I told him. And he said, “Well what did you tell the man?” And I said, “Well I told him I’d just taken a job in the shipyard. I couldn’t very well leave.” And he . . . So he walked me over to his bedroom where he had a full-length mirror. And he stood me up in front of the mirror and I was covered with grease and oil from working in that shipyard that day. And he said, “Does that look like a lawyer to you, kiddo?” And I said, “No sir.” And he said, “What are you gonna do?” I said, “I’m gonna call that fellow up.” (Laughter) I called the senator up and accepted his offer, and moved to Baton Rouge and started working in the state Senate as the one and only aid the state senator had in those days. And so doors . . . doors opened for me. And that’s, I guess, what happens in this country. Doors magically open for people of, you know, rather simple means and simple backgrounds. And suddenly you get a chance to do something extraordinary. And it began there. It began with that . . . that four year service as an aid in the state Senate, graduation from law school, and the determination that I wanted a career in politics, and the decision to run for the state House in 1971. Recorded on: 9/11/07


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