You've heard Obama and his spokesbots say it over and over and over again, but they aren't telling you the entire story.
Remember this from the Vice-Presidential debate on 11 October 2012:
"They talk about this Great Recession if it fell out of the sky, like, 'Oh, my goodness, where did it come from?' It came from this man voting to put two wars on a credit card, to at the same time put a prescription drug benefit on the credit card, a trillion-dollar tax cut for the very wealthy. I was there. I voted against them. I said, no, we can't afford that."
- Vice-President Joe Biden, Vice-Presidential debate, 11 October 2012
BIDEN VOTED FOR BOTH WARS. He also voted FOR including prescription drugs under Medicare in 2000, FOR cloture for Bush's Medicare Part D (before voting against the bill on the floor when he knew it was already going to pass because of 11 other Democrats), FOR expanding the enrollment period for Medicare Part D, AGAINST means-testing for the prescription drug benefit, AGAINST Medicare means-testing, and even AGAINST medical savings accounts.
It is also of note that "Lunch Bucket Joe" voted FOR Reagan's 1986 tax cuts, which reduced the top marginal rate from 50% to 28%.
Besides, none of this had anything to do with the recession. If it had, revenues would have been going down and the deficit going up before the recession hit and that is simply not the case. FY 2007 saw record revenues for the Treasury and a deficit of $163 billion -- the second smallest of Bush's presidency.
At the bottom of this post, I will produce the data for each year of Bush’s administration, along with Obama’s term. And, I leave you doubters with some words from your Leader:
"The fact is, all these promises are silly: Administrations don't cause recession and recoveries--if anyone is in charge of the business cycle, it's the nonpartisan technocrats at the Federal Reserve."
- Paul Krugman, Two Cheers For The Welfare State Sure, It's Got Problems. But DespiteWhat They Think They Want, The Vast Majority Of Americans Would Be Sorry To See It Go, CNN Money, 1 May 1995
Now, turning to why we are here:
In President Clinton's last term, "The National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare. The Commission met from 1998 to 1999 and included members of Congress and current or former executive branch officials. As the commission concluded its work in March 1999, it considered recommendations in three major areas: (1) establishing a system of “premium support,” under which the government would contribute a fixed amount of money toward each beneficiary's coverage in either a private health plan or the traditional fee-for-service Medicare program and would no longer cover specific benefits regardless of cost; private plans would have to offer a “high option” with a benefits package at least equal to the fee-for-service program but otherwise could vary benefits, copayments, and deductibles subject to approval by a new Medicare governing board; (2) improving the current Medicare program, including a prescription drug benefit for beneficiaries with incomes below 135 percent of poverty; and (3) changing eligibility and financing to improve the program's long-term solvency (National Bipartisan Commission 1999; Smith 2002, 351)."
The issue of Part-D was not dreamed up by Bush. It predated him. Further, despite what they say about their "fiscal responsibility," all plans offered by Democrats were infinitely larger than those proposed by Republicans. Also, none of them were paid for either. As to Bush's programmed being "paid for," revenues certainly suggest that he was far more right than Democrats. For two examples, I remember when the NYT and The Washington Post were "unexpectedly surprised" by the BIG JUMP in revenues after the Bush tax cuts.
Anyhoo, a prescription drug plan for Medicare was going to happen (and I wish that weren't the case), so see if you can match the $$$ plan with those that proposed them (and, put cotton in your ears if you feel the possibility of some Democrat saying "and they passed this very expensive prescription drug benefit and didn't pay for it").
Mix and Match the plan with the culprits:
1. Less than $200 billion
2. $300 billion
3. $350 billion
4. $ 395 billion
5. $400 billion
6. $500 billion
7. $800 billion
8. $900 billion
A. House Democratic Leadership
B. President George Bush
C. House Republican Leadership (inc. $ for rural community clinics)
D. "Moderate" Democrats Rahm Emanuel and Cal Dooley
E. Senate Democratic Leadership
F. Bill passed by the House and Senate (on a bipartisan basis)
G. House Republican Leadership
H. House Democratic Leadership (yes, this group is supposed to be here twice)
Democrats Push Prescription Plan; GOP Calls It Too Costly
"It is 'evil' for Congress to delay any longer providing a prescription drug benefit for Medicare beneficiaries."
- Congressman Charles Rangel, the tax cheat
By John A MacDonald
WASHINGTON — House Democrats called Thursday for spending $800 billion over the next decade to add prescription drug coverage to Medicare, more than twice the amount Republicans are expected to propose.
In announcing their proposal, Democrats attacked as inadequate the still-emerging Republican plan, which party officials have said would cost $350 billion over the next 10 years. “Our plan is real; the Republican plan is a press release,'' said Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, the House Democratic leader.
House Republicans immediately countered that the Democratic plan is too costly. “They [Democrats] should be honest with hard-working taxpayers and America's seniors by telling us what programs they intend to cut to fund this bloated bureaucracy,'' said Rep. Ernie Fletcher of Kentucky, who is helping draft the Republican plan.
Republican officials say they expect to present their plan early next week, debate it in two committees later in the week and bring it to a full House vote during the last week in June. Two years ago, Republicans did not allow a vote on an alternative Democratic plan.
From what Republicans have said so far, their plan will be far less generous than the proposal the Democrats presented Thursday.
The Democrats said their plan envisions a $25-a-month premium and a $100-a-year deductible. Under the Democratic plan, beneficiaries would pay 20 percent of the cost of a prescription, with Medicare paying the rest. No Medicare beneficiary would have to pay more than $2,000 a year for prescription drugs.
Rep. Charles B. Rangel of New York, the senior Democrat on the influential House Ways and Means Committee, said it is “evil'' for Congress to delay any longer providing a prescription drug benefit for Medicare beneficiaries. Taking a poke at the White House and House Republicans, Rangel said: “We've waited long enough for President Bush and the Republican leadership to bring us a bill.''
House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said in early May that Republicans would introduce and pass a bill before Memorial Day. Republicans had to pull back from that timetable when some of their own members objected to provisions contained in early drafts of their plan. The new goal for action is late June, just before the House is scheduled to break for the July 4th holiday.
Democrats presented an array of endorsements Thursday for their plan from labor, senior citizen and consumer groups.
“Seniors need a real benefit that provides comprehensive, continuous and certain coverage,'' William Samuel, director of legislation for the AFL-CIO, said in a letter distributed by Democrats. “Your proposal provides that benefit, giving seniors coverage without gimmicks or gaps.”
In another letter, former Connecticut Congresswoman Barbara B. Kennelly, president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, said: “Your bill contains all of the elements that seniors need in a comprehensive drug benefit under Medicare.''
And Ronald F. Pollack, executive director of the consumer group Families USA, said: “Beneficiaries across the country will be confident that they will have access to this benefit in the same way they get the rest of their Medicare benefits.''
Medicare Drug Benefit Plan Is Proposed by 2 Democrats
"Our proposal is fiscally and politically realistic. It would, he said, provide drug benefits to people with the greatest financial needs and provide "a solid foundation on which Congress can build."
- Democratic Congressmen Cal Dooley (CA) and Rahm Emanuel (IL)
By Robert Pear
WASHINGTON, April 1 — In a break with party leaders, centrist Democrats proposed today that Medicare provide drug benefits immediately to people who have low incomes or high prescription drug expenses.
Members of both parties said Congress could eventually embrace such a plan if lawmakers could not agree on more ambitious proposals to pay drug costs for all Medicare beneficiaries, regardless of income.
The new proposal was offered by Representatives Cal Dooley of California and Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, with support from 16 other House members who call themselves New Democrats.
"Our proposal is fiscally and politically realistic," said Mr. Dooley, a House member for 12 years. It would, he said, provide drug benefits to people with the greatest financial needs.
Mr. Emanuel, a freshman who worked in the Clinton White House, said the proposal provided "a solid foundation on which Congress can build."
Howard J. Bedlin, vice president of the National Council on the Aging, a research and advocacy group, said, "This is not the ultimate solution, but it would be a good start, a potential compromise, that could attract bipartisan support if we find there's not enough money to provide more comprehensive drug benefits."
Under the proposal, Medicare would pay 80 percent of the cost of each prescription after a beneficiary had incurred $4,000 of drug costs in a year. The $4,000 deductible would not apply to elderly people with incomes less than twice the poverty level. For the poorest among these, the federal government would pay at least 80 percent of their drug costs, and the federal share would decline as a person's income rose toward 200 percent of poverty. The poverty level for a couple is $12,120 this year.
Nearly half the elderly have incomes less than twice the poverty level, according to the Congressional Research Service. The Congressional Budget Office says 17 percent of the elderly will have more than $4,000 in drug expenses this year.
The new proposal would use the full amount proposed by President Bush for improvements in Medicare, $400 billion over 10 years. But Mr. Dooley said "there are serious shortcomings" in the leading proposals advanced by Republicans and Democrats.
Under those proposals, drug coverage is generally an optional benefit provided in return for extra premiums. One problem with that approach, Mr. Dooley said, is that it attracts a disproportionate number of sick people who know they will need large quantities of prescription drugs. By contrast, under the New Democrats' proposal, drug coverage would be added to the standard package of Medicare benefits, and there would be no extra premium.
Mr. Dooley and Mr. Emanuel said Democrats should like their proposal because it does not try to privatize Medicare and would not require sweeping changes in the structure of the program. Moreover, they said, Republicans should like the proposal because the cost is limited and the government would not lavish aid on the wealthy.
House Democratic leaders have endorsed prescription drug legislation that would cost $800 billion to $900 billion over 10 years.
Several factors have inspired interest in the approach favored by Mr. Dooley and Mr. Emanuel. Many lawmakers said they had concluded that with $400 billion over 10 years, they could not meet the expectations of all the elderly who were counting on generous new drug benefits. Congress, they said, must set priorities.
The federal government would bear the cost of the drug benefits proposed by Mr. Dooley and Mr. Emanuel. The benefits could be delivered through health maintenance organizations, group health plans for retirees, private insurance policies that fill gaps in Medicare or state pharmaceutical assistance programs.
In addition, under the bill, Medicare would try to exploit the purchasing power of its beneficiaries to obtain discounts on prescription drugs. The government would set standards for drug discount cards, and by using those cards, Mr. Dooley said, the elderly could achieve savings of 15 percent to 30 percent.
The Fight Over a Medicare Drug Plan
"...advocates pushing generic alternatives to high-profile, high-cost name brand drugs, and urges everyone to be realistic. "This isn't a giveaway for everyone who says, 'I want no deductible and all the drugs I've ever wanted.' The country could never afford that — so Congress is trying to put together something that's sustainable."
- John Jones, vice president of legal and regulatory affairs for Prescription Solutions
From Time Magazine, Tuesday, 18 June 2002
By Jessica Reaves
Everyone in Washington seems to agree: the nation's seniors need better prescription drug coverage, and quickly. The major point of debate between Republicans and Democrats: how much the whole thing should cost — and exactly what should be covered.
The price tags for coverage plans range between gigantic and elephantine. Monday, House Republicans, led by Rep. Bill Thomas of California, introduced a plan that would rack up a $350 billion bill over ten years, with $300 billion earmarked for the prescription program itself. The rest would go to subsidize health care practices that agree to serve Medicare patients — a community that's dwindling thanks to rising costs of care and plummeting Medicare reimbursement rates.
The figures are higher across the congressional aisle: House Democrats have a plan that would cost $800 billion over a decade, and last week, Senate Democrats offered a blueprint that would run about $500 billion to implement.
Meanwhile, the White House wants to keep the bill under $200 billion.
Now lawmakers are wondering if Congress has the political will to up the President's ante.
In an election year, if anyone nudges the President's hand on this legislation, it won't be Congress — it will be the voters. No politician wants to start off the election cycle with a "victory" over extremely expensive — and extremely popular — prescription drug benefit legislation. So if Republicans prevail with a slightly less costly plan, they’ll spin it as a triumph of responsible government over the whims of spendthrift Dems. And if the Dems are the big winners, we’ll get an earful about the victory of the people over tightwad Republicans.
Not surprisingly, there's a lot of support for the most generous of the plans. Ron Pollack, the executive director of Families USA, a nonprofit, non-partisan organization based in Washington D.C. that advocates "high-quality, affordable healthcare for all Americans," issued a statement supporting the House Democrats' $800 billion plan. Does this vote of confidence come at the exclusion of other plans? "Certainly to the exclusion of the GOP plan," says Families USA spokesperson Jennifer Laudano, who adds there are simply "too many holes" in the House Republicans' proposal. The AARP, the nation's largest lobbying group for seniors, is also lukewarm on the GOP proposal, worrying that it just doesn't provide enough money to cover enough people.
Chances are, no one will be completely satisfied with any one of the plans: each would require some kind of monthly premium payment, as well as a deductible of varying amounts. The Senate Democrats' plan, for example, would charge $25 monthly but have no deductible, while the House Republicans call for a $35 monthly fee and a $350-per-year deductible. Prescription coverage specifics are also variable, ranging from the government paying 80 percent of the first $1,000 spent and 50 percent on the next $1,000 (House Republicans) to requiring a co-payment of $10 for generics and $40 for name brand drugs (Senate Democrats).
For those on the business side of the issue, the emphasis is on balance. John Jones, vice president of legal and regulatory affairs for Prescription Solutions, a pharmacy benefit management company argues for the middle ground. "We need a more generous prescription plan but we also need to control the dispensation of drugs," he says. He advocates pushing generic alternatives to high-profile, high-cost name brand drugs, and urges everyone to be realistic. "This isn't a giveaway for everyone who says, 'I want no deductible and all the drugs I've ever wanted.' The country could never afford that — so Congress is trying to put together something that's sustainable."
Sustainability is in the eye of the beholder — and Democrats and Republicans have very different ideas of how much money is required to guarantee prescription coverage. Andrew Rettenmaier, an economist at Texas A&M University who specializes in analyzing Medicare policy, believes we need to prepare ourselves for the inevitable sticker shock of prescription drug coverage, and thinks the best way to do that is to imagine what might happen if we didn't create coverage in the first place. "Medicare currently covers about five percent of what seniors pay for drugs," Rettenmaier says. That means 95 percent of the cost has to be picked up by private insurance and out of pocket payments from seniors. Real coverage, he continues, "is going to be expensive," and it's going to be a drain on federal coffers. And in a country that's aging by the day, that price is just going to keep going up.
Senate Passes Medicare Bill
The Senate voted 54-44 Tuesday to update Medicare and give a prescription drug benefit to the 42 million seniors receiving the 38-year-old entitlement -- a major legislative victory for President Bush.
The passage of the bill designed to have the government co-pay seniors' prescription drug costs makes for the most extensive overhaul of Medicare since the health-care program was created in 1965.
Unlike the vote in the House, which approved the legislation 220-215 with little party crossover, the Senate vote was built on bipartisan consensus.
In the end, nine Republicans voted against the entitlement, saying it costs way too much -- $395 billion over 10 years -- while 11 Democrats and Independent Jim Jeffords of Vermont voted for the measure, saying seniors need immediate assistance and shortcomings in the bill can be worked out later.
This was a "bipartisan vote reflecting the spirit of cooperation and partnership from the outset," Frist said.
Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., a Democrat who helped usher through the bill, said the debate wasn't as jovial as Frist suggested. Sporting a black eye from a fall he took while running a 50-mile race, Baucus joked he sustained the injury during a meeting with the Democratic caucus.
At its heart, the Medicare legislation was designed as a compromise, with the new drug coverage for all Medicare beneficiaries long sought by Democrats combined with a Republican-backed plan to give private insurance companies a vast new role in health care for the program's beneficiaries.
Under the legislation, the prescription drug benefit will not begin until 2006. In the interim, seniors will be eligible to purchase a Medicare-backed discount drug card at an estimated cost of $30 a year. The administration estimates this will mean savings of between 15 percent and 25 percent off retail prices.
Critics argue those estimated savings are wildly inflated.
The drug benefit will provide subsidies to help lower-income seniors pay the premiums and other costs.
The measure also goes far beyond prescription drugs, including an additional $25 billion for rural hospitals and health care providers, a requirement for higher-income seniors to pay more for Medicare Part B coverage and billions of dollars to discourage corporations from eliminating existing coverage for their retirees once the new government program begins.
The bill also gives incentives to insurance companies in hopes they'll offer private coverage to seniors — a provision viewed with favor by conservatives but suspicion by many Democrats. The bill satisfies conservative goals, including creation of tax-preferred health savings accounts open to individuals who purchase high-deductible health insurance policies.
The legislation creates a limited program of direct competition between traditional Medicare and private plans, beginning in 2010.
Conservatives argued that competition would help bring down the cost of Medicare over the long run, while critics said it would privatize the program and lead to "cherry picking" of relatively healthy seniors by insurance companies and higher premiums for those seniors who remained under the government-designed benefit.
Senate approval of the bill gives Bush and the congressional Republican majorities a significant legislative and political triumph on an issue that Democrats have long exploited in political campaigns.
Kennedy said the bill would ultimately cause "the unraveling of the Medicare system." (SoRo: Teddy’s dead, but SS is still kicking ‘tho running a deficit). He predicted Republicans would go on to attack Social Security after next year's election.
"We move now from the floor of the United States Senate to the highways and byways of this country, and the senior citizen centers to the nursing homes to the other locations seniors gather where they will have a chance to come together and begin to express their views. Now it will be in the ballot box," he said.
Bush is eager to sign the bill into law, especially now that Congress has dropped efforts to pass major energy legislation this year — another Bush priority — after repeated attempts failed to find two additional votes needed to push the bill through the Senate.
Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, both presidential candidates, skipped the final vote to get back on the campaign trail. They had returned to Washington on Monday to support blocking measures by Democrats.
Max Baucus (D-MT), John Breaux (D-LA), Tom Carper (D-DE), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Zell Miller (D-GA), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Jim Jeffords (I-VT).
Senate Republicans that voted AGAINST the Final Medicare Part-D bill:
Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John Ensign (R-NV), Trent Lott (R-MS), John McCain (R-AZ), Don Nickles (R-OK), John Sununu (R-NH).
Arm-Twisting Wins 220-215 Medicare Vote
From The Washington Times, Sunday, 23 November 2003
By The Washington Times
The House passed a sweeping Medicare prescription-drug bill early yesterday, but only because Republicans would not let the measure die and refused to end the vote until enough lawmakers switched from “No” to “Yes.”
After substantial arm-twisting by Republican leaders, the Medicare bill passed at 5:53 a.m. by a vote of 220-215. It now goes to the Senate, where a key vote is expected tomorrow and where backers had hoped to avoid a Democratic filibuster.
“I feel much better this morning, now that the House of Representatives passed this legislation,” said Sen. John B. Breaux, Louisiana Democrat, who worked with Republicans to craft the bill. “I think you’ll see an entirely different atmosphere in the Senate.”
Mr. Breaux and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, said support in the Senate would be broader than in the House.
“I believe it’ll be a strong bipartisan vote. This is a bipartisan bill,” Mr. Frist said.
But yesterday afternoon, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, said the way Republicans “rigged” the House vote prompted him to lead a filibuster.
“I think this bill would have been beaten on a fair vote in the House of Representatives, and so it was a phony vote in the House of Representatives, and now they are trying to jam us in the Senate,” Mr. Kennedy said.
“At this time, I think it’s still an uphill battle, but I think last night should be sufficiently outrageous to any Democrat, and to the American people, that they say we ought to just give time to do better,” he said.
However, President Bush, who has made the bill a major part of his domestic agenda, called on the Senate to follow the House’s lead.
“It is time for the Senate to act. I urge the Senate to pass this good piece of legislation so that I can sign it into law,” Mr. Bush said in a statement yesterday.
Bush had called wavering lawmakers from Air Force One on his way home from London to lobby for passage, Reuters reported. His top political aide, Karl Rove, placed calls from Buckingham Palace **eyefuckingroll**, several House Republicans said.
At stake is the largest new entitlement program since Medicare initially passed nearly 40 years ago. The bill is expected to cost $395 billion over 10 years.
The measure would give millions of seniors VOLUNTARY prescription-drug coverage for the first time for a premium of about $35 a month and an annual deductible of $250. The government would pay 75 percent of a senior’s annual drug costs up to $2,250. Beneficiaries would pay out-of-pocket costs between $2,250 and $3,600, the so-called “doughnut hole,” and, beyond that point, the government would pick up 90 percent of costs.
For those seniors who choose to stay with traditional Medicare, private insurers would provide the drug benefit. Or users could choose a new option that would let private insurers provide comprehensive health insurance, including prescription drugs.
Republicans also tried to instill long-term reforms through a pilot program in which Medicare would compete directly against the private plans, starting in 2010 in a six-year, six-city test.
The House began debating the bill Friday and began voting at 3 a.m. yesterday. The voting usually last between 15 minutes and half an hour while members come to the chamber and record their votes.
But an hour into the Medicare vote, Republicans were losing, 216-218, and simply refused to gavel the vote closed until they swung enough votes to win. Top Republicans and Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson prowled the floor for two hours, until they convinced some Republicans to change their votes.
“People came into this thing unpersuaded, and it takes time to do that. A vote is a pressure cooker sometimes,” said House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican.
Democrats were furious --- (until they took control of the House)
“They grossly abused the rules of the House by holding the vote open. The House expressed its will, 216-218,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat. “It means it’s a dictatorship. It means you hold the vote open until you have the votes.”
Just before 6 a.m., two Republicans agreed to switch from “No” to “Yes,” giving the bill 218 supporters, a majority. Once that was clear, Rep. David Wu, Oregon Democrat and the sole member who hadn’t voted, then voted “Yes,” and a few Republicans and Democrats switched votes to bring the tally to 220-215.
Sixteen Democrats joined most Republicans in supporting the bill, though 25 Republicans voted “No.”
Rep. C.L. “Butch” Otter of Idaho and Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona were the two Republicans convinced to switch.
Mr. Otter said he became convinced the alternative to the bill was even worse. He said he believed that if the bill failed, Democrats would push to pass a more expensive version that lacked the provisions conservatives were happy about in the compromise measure.
“I was afraid [of] what was going to happen if I didn’t [switch],” Mr. Otter said. “We’d end up with the more expensive, less reform, no [health savings accounts] Senate bill.”
The political fallout is not clear, but there is no doubt the prescription-drug issue will play a significant role in the 2004 elections and beyond.
“This is not the end of this battle, no matter what happens on Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday,” Mr. Kennedy said. “Anybody that thinks it’s all over next week is absolutely mistaken. This is going to be raised, and a key issue, for Congress and every Senate race, as well as the presidential race in 2004, and it will in 2006, it will in 2008, and it will in 2010, until it’s changed.”
Already yesterday, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, one of nine Democratic presidential candidates, said he will cancel his campaign events and return to Washington to help with the filibuster. Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, another presidential candidate, said he will come back to Washington to vote against the bill.
Meanwhile, the National Republican Congressional Committee released a statement criticizing House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, for organizing Democratic opposition. Carl Forti, NRCC communications director, promised “not to let seniors forget about this morning’s vote.”
House Republicans that voted AGAINST the Final Medicare Part-D bill:
Todd Akin (R-MO), Gresham Barrett (R-SC), Dan Burton (R-IN), Steve Chabot (R-OH), John Culberson (R-TX), Jim DeMint (R-SC), Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), Tom Feeney (R-FL), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Gil Gutknecht (R-MN), John Hostettler (R-IN), Walter Jones (R-NC), Dan Miller (R-FL), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO), Charlie Norwood (R-GA), Ron Paul (R-TX), Mike Pence (R-IN), Jim Ryun (R-KS), John Shadegg R-AZ), Nick Smith (R-MI), Tom Tancredo (R-CO), Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Zach Wamp (R-TN).
Bernie Sanders voted against.
House Democrats that voted FOR the Final Medicare Part-D bill:
Rodney Alexander (D-LA), Rick Bucher (D-VA), Allen Boyd (D-FL), Brad Carson (D-OK), Bud Cramer (D-AL), Lincoln Davis (D-TN), Tony Hall (D-TX), Christopher John (D-LA), Jim Marshall (D-GA), Jim Matheson (D-UT), Collin Peterson (D-MN), Earl Pomeroy (D-ND), David Scott (D-GA), Charlie Stenholm (D-TX), David Wu (D-OR).
Repeal Medicare Drug Entitlement
"When brought to a final vote in the House at 3 a.m. on a Sunday, a clear majority voted against the program. Yet GOP leaders held the vote open for nearly three hours — rather than the usual 15 minutes — until they twisted enough arms to change the outcome. The Republican leadership did exactly what Republicans criticized Al Gore for attempting in Florida: keep counting until you get the result you want, then stop."
By stonewalling a legitimate investigation by House Democrats, the Bush administration is showcasing how principle was abandoned to create the new Medicare drug entitlement, and why the program should be repealed.
After President Bush announced last year he would spend “up to $400 billion” over 10 years to add prescription drug coverage to Medicare, senior officials in his administration suppressed estimates by chief Medicare actuary Richard Foster that projected the leading bills before Congress would exceed that amount by as much as $200 billion. Tom Scully, then Bush’s Medicare administrator, expressly forbade Foster to share his estimates with Congress and allegedly threatened to fire Foster if he disobeyed. The non-partisan Congressional Research Service opined this week it is possible Scully’s actions violated the law.
Meanwhile, Scully and Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson campaigned for the bills, citing a Congressional Budget Office cost estimate that met the president’s target. As a result, Congress and the public debated and approved the largest entitlement expansion since the creation of Medicare, unaware of the existence of a higher (and highly credible) cost estimate that could have changed the outcome.
Only after the president signed the program into law did the administration release its higher estimate, which came in at $534 billion. When asked about the higher estimate, Bush’s response was Clintonian. Without actually saying so, he hinted he learned of the higher estimate only after he signed the bill.
Bush made trust the theme of his last campaign. Yet he and his administration clearly did not trust the people with all the relevant information.
And this scandal compounds another. When brought to a final vote in the House at 3 a.m. on a Sunday, a clear majority voted against the program. Yet GOP leaders held the vote open for nearly three hours — rather than the usual 15 minutes — until they twisted enough arms to change the outcome.*
The Republican leadership did exactly what Republicans criticized Al Gore for attempting in Florida: keep counting until you get the result you want, then stop. Congressional scholar Norm Ornstein calls the vote “the ugliest and most outrageous breach of standards in the modern history of the House.”
These are officials who once signed a Contract with America that promised “to restore the bonds of trust between the people and their elected representatives,” to give legislation “a clear and fair vote,” and to end “government that is … too easy with the people’s money.” These principles were set aside, and in the unwitting service of the administration’s deception. Yet not one Republican has joined House Democrats in calling for greater openness from the administration. We’re a long way from 1994.
The greatest scandal is the program itself. No one putting his own money on the line would invest in a product like this.
Foster testified before Congress that rather than provide catastrophic-only coverage, the program violates “standard classical insurance principles” by providing coverage that begins at a low deductible then disappears and reappears as one’s expenses rise. The point of this bizarre structure, he explained, is political: broad subsidies for non-catastrophic expenses attract more votes. The problem is, they also will lead to over- consumption, inflated drug prices and, if history is any guide, will cost well over $534 billion.
The subsidies were made so broad they will force taxpayers to pick up costs the private sector is now paying voluntarily. The CBO estimates every fourth participant would have had private drug coverage anyway. Employers and unions will receive $71 billion just to keep them from dropping their retirees into the program.
It’s hard to remember when more people violated more stated principles to enact such an unprincipled law. Fortunately, the drug program does not take effect until 2006. That gives enough time to repeal it and hold an honest, principled debate about reforming Medicare.
* From wiki: The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives early on June 25, 2003 as H.R. 1, sponsored by SpeakerDennis Hastert. All that day and the next the bill was debated, and it was apparent that the bill would be very divisive. In the early morning of June 27, a floor vote was taken. After the initial electronic vote, the count stood at 214 yeas, 218 nays.
Three Republican representatives then changed their votes. One opponent of the bill, Ernest J. Istook, Jr. (R-OK-5), changed his vote to "present" upon being told that C.W. Bill Young (R-FL-10), who was absent due to a death in the family, would have voted "aye" if he had been present. Next, Republicans Butch Otter (ID-1) and Jo Ann Emerson (MO-8) switched their vote to "aye" under pressure from the party leadership. The bill passed by one vote, 216-215.
While I opposed Medicare Part D, as I likewise oppose Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, all subsidies of any kind, etc, it has been one of the few entitlement programmes to come in under projected cost in its first decade.
If you use the Congressional Budget Office numbers, the savings are somewhat lower than 40%. If you subtract the premiums that patients pay, as well as contributions from the states, then the programme comes in at about 28% below budget (and I get that figure from the program comes in left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
According to Politifact, again not a right-leaning organisation, there is a wide consensus that Bush's Medicare Part D programme is coming in under budget in its first decade. Sadly, the same cannot be said about Obamacare:
And, the taxes in Obamacare and even the new top marginal rates for the evilest of the evil rich WILL NOT PAY FOR OBAMACARE.
1. Less than $200 billion - President George W Bush
2. $300 billion - House Republican Leadership
3. $350 billion - House Republican Leadership (inc. $ for rural community clinics)
4. $395 billion - Bill passed by the House and Senate (on a bipartisan basis)
5. $400 billion - "Moderate" Democrats Rahm Emanuel and Cal Dooley
6. $500 billion - Senate Democratic Leadership
7. $800 billion - House Democratic Leadership
8. $900 billion - House Democratic Leadership
"Obama Is More Fiscally-Responsible Than Bush Ever Was!"
Non-defence spending: $1.655 trillion
Defence: $305 billion
Revenue: $1.99 trillion (including SS)
Total spending: $1.96 trillion
Deficit: $133.29 billion (without trust funds)
GDP: $13.1268 trillion
National Debt: $5.8075 trillion
Non-defence spending: $1.6823 trillion
Defence: $328.7 billion
Revenue: $1.853 trillion
Total spending: $2.011 trillion
Deficit: $157.8 billion
GDP: $10.6423 trillion
National Debt: $6.4057 trillion
Non-defence spending: $1.3774 trillion
Defence: $404.9 billion
Revenue: $1.7823 trillion
Total spending: $2.159 trillion
Deficit: $374 billion
GDP: $11.1421 trillion
National Debt: $6.7832 trillion
Non-defence spending: $1.836 trillion
Defence: $455.9 billion
Revenue: $1.880 trillion
Total spending: $2.292 trillion
Deficit: $413 billion
GDP: $11.8678 trillion
National Debt: $7.596 trillion
Non-defence spending: $1.976 trillion
Defence: $495.30 billion
Revenue: $2.153 trillion
Total spending: $2.472 trillion
Deficit: $317 billion
GDP: $12.6384 trillion
National Debt: $8.1708 trillion
Non-military defence: $2.119 trillion
Defence: $535.9 billion
Revenue: $2.407 trillion
Total spending: $2.655 trillion
Deficit: $248 billion
GDP: $13.3989 trillion
National Debt: $8.6802 trillion
Non-defence spending: $2.2026 trillion
Defence: $527.4 billion
Revenue: $2.568 trillion
Total spending: $2.728 trillion
Deficit: $163 billion
GDP: $14.0776 trillion
National Debt: $9.2298 trillion
Non-defence spending: $2.488 trillion
Defence: $494.4 billion
Revenue: $2.524 trillion
Total spending: $2.9825 trillion
Deficit: $438 billion
GDP: $14.4414 trillion
National Debt: $10.6998 trillion
Non-defence spending: $3.0234 trillion
Defence: $494.3 billion
Revenue: $2.105 trillion
Total spending: $3.5177 trillion
Deficit: $1.786 trillion
GDP: $14.119 trillion
National Debt: $12.13497 trillion
Non-defence spending: $2.793 trillion
Defence: $663.7 billion
Revenue: $2.1627 trillion
Total Spending: $3.4562 trillion
Deficit: $1.295 trillion
GDP: $14.5082 trillion
National Debt: $13.5616 trillion
Non-defence spending: $2.72 trillion
Defence: $880 billion
Revenue: $2.3 trillion
Total Spending: $3.6 trillion
Deficit: $1.3 trillion
GDP: $14.959 trillion
National Debt: $14.76 trillion
These are the latest figures, but subject to revision since the FY ended on 09.30.12:
Non-defence spending: $2.804 trillion
Defence: $925 billion
Revenue: $2.628 trillion
Total Spending: $3.729 trillion
Deficit: $1.101 trillion
GDP: $15.602 trillion
National Debt: $16.336 trillion
Reminder: There was NO Bush FY2009 Budget
Center for Defense Information
Tax Policy Centre