by John Hawkins | September 27, 2005 5:45 am
Here’s a question not enough people are asking: why not kill the Medicare prescription drug benefit?
* The program hasn’t started yet so if it’s killed no one will actually lose any benefits.
* There was no great hue and cry from the American people for a Medicare prescription drug benefit in the first place. The GOP pushed this issue simply because they wanted to take a campaign issue off the table for the Democrats. Of course, the poll numbers initially didn’t look that bad because very few seniors are going to complain about getting free drugs from the government. Still, the tepid demand for the program never came close to justifying the cost.
* Furthermore, if the Republicans in Washington think they got some sort of lasting benefit from throwing their principles out the window to support this big government monstrosity, they’re sadly mistaken. From a Kaiser Health Poll Report:
Seniors’ views of the new prescription drug benefit are mixed. Between February 2004 and December 2004, around four to five in ten seniors have said they have an unfavorable impression of the new law, compared with about two to three in ten who said they have a favorable impression. In April 2005, more seniors still say they have an unfavorable impression (34%) than a favorable impression (21%) of the new prescription drug benefit, but nearly half have a neutral impression or don’t know (45%)…
* The program was originally billed as costing $400 billion dollars over its first 10 years. That number has already been inflated to over $720 billion dollars and it will likely continue to increase.
The enormous increase in estimated cost alone should be plenty of justification for any responsible lawmaker to turn against the program.
If that doesn’t do it, just think about our country going $720 billion dollars — and rising — into the red every year, perhaps for decades, to buy drugs for seniors who spend less on medicine (only 3% of their income on average) than they do on entertainment.
What we have here is an almost unimaginably expensive, largely unnecessary, unpopular, new government entitlement.
So what would be wrong with simply saying: “The program cost much more than was originally estimated and we simply can’t justify this kind of spending, especially now, when we’re running a deficit?”
It would be fantastic and also unfortunately unexpected, if the Republicans in Washington were to stick up for the taxpayers for once, do what’s right for the future of this country, and kill this abomination before it springs to life in 2006.
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