by John Hawkins | January 30, 2004 9:28 pm
Wealthy U.S. Senators from both sides of the aisle today agreed to use their personal funds to make up the difference between the promised cost of the new Medicare drug benefit and the latest Bush administration cost estimates — a gap of about $130 billion over 10 years.
“Like any other business, when you make a mistake you have to eat it,” said an unnamed aide to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-TN. “We can’t go to the taxpayers and say ‘Oops! We said we needed $400 billion of your money, but it’s really $530 billion.’ They’d tar and feather us — or at least vote us out of office.”
Although only 11 Democrats voted for the measure, the other 35 agreed to help plug the funding gap because they only voted against it because they want a more expensive plan.
“If we had our way,” said an unnamed Democrat senator, “We’d be talking trillion, instead of billion. It’s only fair that we pony up for this.”
The Senators said they would get some help paying for the new entitlement program by lifting the cap on contributions to legislators by pharmaceutical industry lobbyists.
Meanwhile, independent Vermont Sen. Jim Jeffords introduced a bill calling on the Bush administration to reduce its estimate of the cost of the Medicare drug plan.
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