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.
I grew up in the country – a little place called _________ which wasn’t . . . It was even smaller than Thibodeau if you can imagine. So going to Thibodeau was like going to a big city. And I was sort of, you know, a country boy kind of looked down on by big boys from the city. So I grew up poor. Dad never earned, I think, above poverty. But we lived on a farm and we, you know . . . we literally grew up raising crops, and hunting animals, and catching fish and surviving. And we took care of . . . I remember coming home in the afternoon and I’d say, “Mom, what’s for supper?” And she’d say, “I don’t know. Go get something,” you know? And we . . . I don’t remember being poor. We were always very happy and well taken care of. But looking back on it I realized, you know, we were poor country kids. And so everything from there was an adventure. You know going to . . . going to high school and, you know, reading Shakespeare, and learning you know history, and literature, and science was a great adventure for me. Knowledge was a . . . was a . . was fun. I was able to attend Nicholls State University, which was a home town university there – part of the junior college system initially of Louisiana – a state run university. I’d been elected president of my student body at Thibodeau High, and so I got into school politics at Nicholls as well. But again it was . . . I remember those days as adventurous – of learning how big and wide the world was, and how much there was to . . . to see, and know, and do.
In my senior year at Nicholls, I had a professor who had glaucoma and had trouble with his eyes, and he commissioned me to drive him across America and to Canada one summer. I spent the whole summer driving him around, visiting all the universities of the eastern side of the country – all the way starting from Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas; going up into Canada and Stafford, watching the Shakespearean Festival there; and going on to Quebec and then coming down the eastern seaboard and visiting every one of our great American universities. I remember that as . . . as eye opening. And that same year I helped a state senator get elected, and that opened up all sorts of opportunities for me. Recorded on: 9/11/07