Blogs > Liberty and Power > The Forgotten Bush "Mistake"

Jul 12, 2004 10:55 am

The Forgotten Bush "Mistake"

While most of us dwell on the Senate's report outlining the amazing failure of U.S. Intelligence in Iraq it's useful to remind ourselves that this is not a one off event. To the contrary, this is a pattern within this administration to rely on faulty or false data to sell major policy initiatives to the American public. Does anybody remember the Medicare prescription drug benefit?

Just to refresh our memories, this allegedly conservative administration decided that the wealthiest segment of the U.S. population by age needed yet another large entitlement - govermnent subsidized prescription drugs. At the time the administration told Congress that the program would"only" cost around 400 billion dollars. Shortly after the bill was passed it became public that Richard Foster, an official at Health and Human Services, had done an analysis of the program that showed it would cost approximately 500 to 600 billion dollars per year. Of course the administration never sent that figure to the Hill.

Now, in what has to be one of the most underappreciated news stories of the year thus far, it turns out that Mr. Foster's boss, Thomas Scully, had threatened to fire Foster if he released the report. That's right, he threatened to fire the guy for telling the truth. But wait, it gets better!

Guess who Scully is now working for? He's now a lobbyist for a group of major drug companies, including Abbot Laboratories and Aventis, and a pharmacy benefits manager. But wait, it gets even better!

The GAO has decided that while Scully did threaten Foster with firing that the act WAS NOT ILLEGAL! Yep, government officials can deceive the public and essentially engage in fraud and not be prosecuted for it.

So let me get this straight. Martha Stewart is probably going to get sentenced to jail for lying to the feds, partially on the basis of perjured testimony from a government official related to an insider trading scandal that hurt nobody. And this guy Scully, who clearly committed fraud to the tune of 200 billion dollars by any reasonable definition, cannot be prosecuted? Someone has to be pick up this story and run with it; and someone should put the administration's feet to the fire on this.

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Pat Lynch - 7/16/2004

I'm not sure how the elderly fit into the core interests of the Republican party. Rather I view this as a sad attempt to violate the supposed principles of the party to try to gain a few more votes they'd not otherwise get. As for leaders who believed in principles, how about Bush's supposed idol, Reagan? He'd have vetoed this bill in a second. More to the point, fraud is clearly something that, while not unexpected, is particularly offensive is it not?

Arnold Shcherban - 7/15/2004

I don't agree with your wishful thinking that conservatives now shbould be angry with Bush?
Where on Earth you saw a political group that doesn't
like its leader for his adherence to its core interests?

Pat Lynch - 7/15/2004

Agreed on two fronts. Clearly Bush is not a conservative in action when it comes to money, and we do need to keep our eyes on the bottom line. However I hope you'd agree that not only this blatant act of fraud and the subsequent indifference to the act is a little beyond the pale even for politicians.

chuck henry - 7/13/2004

As I recall, the reason the prescription drug benefit was designed in such a byzantine and totally confusing way was to bring the price in under $400B, so it wouldn't blow out the federal budget deficit (like that's a concern anymore). Now it turns out to be a classic bait-and-switch, and we'll be stuck with the bill. If I were a conservative I'd be very angry with Bush and his gang; he talked during the campaign about limiting government, but it seems he's learned that it's easy to buy people's votes with their own tax money. We need to pay a whole lot less attention to what the politicians say they're going to do, and a whole lot more attention to what they actually do.