Friday :: Jan 30, 2004

How The Medicare Drug Bill Cost Increase Can Help Dems


by Steve

The news yesterday that the White House is significantly upping the cost of the Medicare drug bill to well over $530 billion over ten years can be looked at several ways. First, either 1) the White House is inept in the deals it cut at the last minute to eliminate cost controls to please its Big PharMa contributors, or 2) it knew the cost would never be $400 billion, and planned to use this to now say that spending needs to be cut elsewhere to pander to the seniors. Knowing Rove like we do, I opt for explanation number two.

Second, in perpetrating such a fraud upon the conservatives in their own party who were against the bill in the first place as a large entitlement expansion, the White House risks a reaction from the GOP deficit hawks. But the White House cannot and would not walk away from the bill now. It can be argued however that this is nothing more than Rove’s way to shut down attempts by the Democrats to fix the problems in the bill, which will cost more money.

Third, how credible is the CBO when they themselves said just a few days ago that the cost would be under the $400 billion price tag?

Lastly, how should the Democrats react? Since the bill already has serious coverage gaps and doesn’t provide any real relief until 2006, it is a given that attempts were going to be made and have been started by the Democrats to fix the bill. But by clearly putting a price tag on the cost overrun to the tune of $134 billion dollars, Democrats have been handed a clear way to now demand that the bill be amended to allow the federal government to negotiate best prices for drugs and get other drug cost controls back into the program. With the White House’s own acknowledgement that by either ineptitude or deceit they pushed through a program that cost far more than advertised, the GOP can no longer argue against tackling the issue of drug cost controls.

Similar to how Bush’s acknowledgement of the $87 billion cost for the Iraqi occupation blew up in his face, this admission by the White House, whether by ineptitude or deceit, can be used against them as well.

Steve :: 1:45 PM :: Comments (3) :: Digg It!