New Medicare law
is bad joke
When President George W. Bush ran
for office, he characterized his platform as "Compassionate
Conservatism." Nearly four years later, that characterization is looking
like a bad joke.
Finding compassionate conservatism
in the Bush administration is like looking for weapons of mass
destruction in Iraq.
Too often, words used by this
administration to describe policies and upcoming actions have not
matched the results. The latest casualty of Bush’s compassionate
conservatism is Medicare.
The administration’s "overhaul" of
Medicare is neither compassionate nor conservative. It is a looming
Government Medicare trustees
issued their annual report three days ago. It shows that Medicare will
start dipping into its trust fund this year and will be completely broke
in 15 years. The report states that provisions of the Medicare overhaul
that Bush signed into law in December "raise serious doubt about the
sustainability of Medicare under current financing arrangements."
The overhaul was proposed as a way
to give private insurers a larger role in Medicare in order to control
long-term costs. The Bush administration convinced Congress to pass the
law by promising a brand new prescription drug benefit for seniors. Yet,
since the president signed the new law, the administration has
acknowledged that it will cost $534 billion over 10 years—$139 billion
more than the original $395 billion estimate.
This $139 million "mistake" is
outrageous even for an administration notorious for bad budget
forecasts, cronyism and corporate ties.
Richard Foster, the nation’s top
Medicare actuary projected the higher cost well before Congress voted.
He says his boss, former Medicare administrator Thomas Scully,
threatened to fire him if he gave the real numbers to Congress.
Karl Rove, Bush’s chief handler
and spinmeister, described the Medicare issue as "Much ado about
nothing." We beg to differ. One hundred billion of the public’s money is
a far cry from nothing, but it’s no distance at all from political
The main beneficiaries of the
Medicare overhaul will be private insurance and drug companies. It’s
becoming clear that they stand to benefit at the expense of health care
for older Americans
The House Ethics Committee is
investigating whether threats or bribes were used to pass the Medicare
bill in the House. If the Bush administration purposely concealed from
Congress the true cost of the overhaul, it engaged in the worst kind of
Maybe Bush should ditch the
Compassionate Conservatism description this election year for one that’s
looking more accurate: Corrupt Cronyism.