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.
Transcript:No, of course not. You know when . . . when Katrina happened, the first thing I did was call Senator John _______, my dear friend in the Senate who just retired the same year I did. M y first question was, “Do you feel guilty that we’re not there to help?” And he said, “Yeah.” And I said, “Well look, you and I, we have to start a fund to help New Orleans. And we have to get people bigger than us to do that.” And I said, “Why don’t you call Bill Clinton and I’ll call President Bush XLI and see if we can’t put them together the same way they worked on the tsunami.” And he did and I did and we got them together. And President Bush okayed it, and so we got them started. And at one point I asked President Clinton if he might be willing to sponsor out of that fund a prize for the architect/engineering firm that could come up with the best plan to reconstruct New Orleans so it would be waterproof. My theory is simple. If Venice can live in water for 365 days out of the year, New Orleans ought to be able to take a few days too if we worked it out right. And let the locals pick the winning plan and get the whole country behind it. Well he came back with a message that he didn’t find a lot of interest in it in the local community in New Orleans; and so it hasn’t happened. I’m still talking about it in New Orleans. I still think we need to do that. If we don’t have a plan to make New Orleans waterproof, you can build all the levees you want. They’ll break again. Some hurricane will top ‘em and you’ll be faced with the same situation, particularly if water continues to rise. So no I’m not happy. I think we’re watching the slow, you know, deterioration of the coastline of Louisiana. And the pressures of New Orleans are gonna grow unless somebody wakes up and realizes it’s gotta be waterproofed.
Recorded on: 9/11/07