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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 


For the week of Nov 26 - Dec 2, 2003

Editorials

Fiascal Year


While the rest of the country was preparing for a Thanksgiving feast, lawmakers were working on cutting a fat hog for business and industry in the corridors of power.

On Monday, the Senate approved a Medicare bill that will cost the nation at least $400 billion. Prior to that, Congress had moved to increase spending on forest-thinning projects by $340 million and $22 billion on veterans’ benefits.

Republicans have vowed to return with an energy bill—defeated in a Senate filibuster last week—that would add another $23 billion to $30 billion in tax cuts for oil and gas development companies.

Choice giveaways included reductions on payments for producing wells, exemptions to the Clean Water Act, government reimbursements for environmental analyses and fast-track drilling approvals that could override environmental concerns. The giveaways offset the benefits of programs promoting ethanol, wind turbines and hydrogen fuels.

Before our esteemed lawmakers rolled up their sleeves and went to work, the nation was already facing a $374 billion shortfall for the year that ended Sept. 30. Forecasters say the nation will amass $500 billion in red ink in the current fiscal year.

A billion here, a billion there—pretty soon it’s real money. Yet, no one in the Bush Administration has offered any clue as to how the nation will pay for this gluttonous binge except to say that an improving economy will offset some of the expenditures. Few in the voting majority—which included members of both parties on the just-passed Medicare bill—even broached the question.

The answer is easy. Ordinary citizens, their children and their grandchildren will get the bill. The result won’t be pretty—just ask anyone who’s lived through a deep recession—or worse.

The nation clearly wants and needs cheaper drugs for seniors, health savings accounts and increased Medicare reimbursements for rural hospitals. But the nation may gag on the tradeoffs—if it ever wakes up.

The bill made cuts in supplemental aid to Medicaid recipients, will increase the price of drugs to the poor, will allow private insurance companies to sign up healthy customers while ignoring the rest, and sacrifice Medicare’s ability to negotiate prices with drug companies to keep costs down.

Drug companies’ stock prices skyrocketed on the news.

Idaho’s entire congressional delegation voted for the bill.

Note to the Webster’s Dictionary folks: It’s time to change the spelling of fiscal to fiascal—meaning of or relating to a fiasco—when used in relation to bills passed by the 108th Congress.

 

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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.