Friday, March 19, 2004

A potentially embarrassing “scandal’ is developing over the recently enacted Medicare Prescription drug bill. In a nutshell, an actuary in Medicare administration has asserted that he was threatened with job termination if he provided cost estimates to the Democrats that were higher than those being used to pass the new legislation. (The cost was $400 billion at the time of the enactment. It has subsequently risen to $534 billion.)

Also, running concurrently is a Democrat-invigorated investigation into whether or not retiring Republican Representative Tom Smith was offered a BRIBE to switch his vote in favor of the prescription drug bill. Lawmakers told Rep. Smith that his son, running for election, would receive support if the concerned father changed his vote.

Is there anything here?

First, the Rep. Smith issue. Lawmakers horse-trading election support for votes on pending legislation seems to be business-as-usual. It is usually lauded in school texts as “compromise.” The word used by Democrats to describe this is “bribe” and its associated derivatives. However, I dismiss it as simple Democratic electioneering. (Al O’Franken and the rest of the political authors would call it “lying” if it applied to GW and could be used to hawk books.)

Onto to the more hyped allegation of scandal involving the projected price tag of the prescription drug bill. (The New York Times has run a couple handfuls of articles over the past week on this.) The accusation of wrongdoing hinges around whether or not Mr. Foster’s (not another Foster-centered White House scandal!) fears of job termination are directly related to a prior warning of termination from his boss, Thomas Scully.

According to the Democratic staffer, she asked Mr. Foster for the higher numbers (which by the way were considerably lower than the plan put forth by the Democrats at $1 trillion) and he said he’d be fired if he told her. The Democratic staffer then confronted Mr. Scully, and the Democratic staffer is then quoted as being told by Mr. Scully that if Mr. Foster tells her anything, he’ll be fired so fast his head will spin.

From this, I only see a Democratic staffer stoking the flames of partisan attacks. A little more Democratic electioneering, as the Democrats would call it. I call it “lying” and I don’t even have a book to hawk to fools who would quickly be parted with $24.95.

The ironic twist would come if this “scandal” did gain traction, and the Democrats were to topple the current Administration. Then we’d have a trillion dollar plan because the Republicans put forth a price tag of $400 billion when it should have been $534 billion.

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