"If the Senate's liberals and moderates can
withstand the pressure for a quick vote, the bill's deficiencies will come to light. And at least 40 senators -- the number
needed to filibuster -- will realize that it's better election-year politics to resist wrecking a much-loved program than
being complicit in its demise."
THE BUSH administration's Medicare bill is a calculated first step toward ending universal Medicare in favor
of vouchers. President Bush and his congressional allies have deftly baited this hook with meager prescription drug benefits.
With legislators wanting to go home for Thanksgiving, the White House hopes to force a vote by this weekend.
The haste is understandable: The more this cynical bill is exposed, the less legislators will fear voting against it. Consider:
Skimpy Drug Benefits....
It's dismal policy. Viewed as a bill for special interests, however, the Medicare legislation is sheer genius.
Pharmaceutical companies get to sell more drugs at prices they set. Hospitals and doctors receive additional
payments. Insurers get to run a lucrative new program with government subsidies. And corporations that are paying health benefits
to retirees get new tax breaks worth $18 billion. ...
Robert Kutter is co-editor of The American Prospect. His column appears regularly in the Globe.
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