Mudcat Café message #1405412 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #62901   Message #1405412
Posted By: Amos
10-Feb-05 - 11:36 PM
Thread Name: BS: Popular Views of the Bush Administration
Subject: RE: BS: Popular Views of the Bush Administration
Yet another analysis of the scandalous budget irresponsibility:

When Math Is Worse Than Fuzzy

Published: February 10, 2005


Whenever the Bush administration wants to sell a costly new program, look carefully before you accept any numbers it puts out. The math isn't just fuzzy, as the current euphemism would have it - it is often downright misleading, and deliberately so.

The latest example is the newly acknowledged cost of the Medicare prescription drug bill, which the administration bulled through Congress in late 2003 over the objections of conservatives who railed that the price tag would be too high. The number that had deficit hawks choking then was a projection that the drug benefit would cost $400 billion over 10 years, from 2004 through 2013. The administration already had an internal estimate that the cost would exceed $500 billion for that period. But it made sure to suppress that figure as it strong-armed Republicans who had already approved irresponsible tax cuts and an expensive war in Iraq, whose true costs were also being hidden.

Now it turns out that the earlier discrepancy was small beer compared with the latest upsurge in the projected 10-year cost of the drug benefit. As pointed out in an article yesterday by Robert Pear in The Times, the drug benefit is actually expected to cost some $720 billion over the first 10 years, from 2006, when the benefit kicks in, through 2015. The previous numbers were lower because they included in the 10-year projections two years when the program would not yet be up and running.

The higher numbers are bound to infuriate conservative Republicans who feel that they were bullied into supporting an expansion of Medicare despite their deep misgivings. But even those of us who supported the Medicare drug benefit as a needed modernization of the program have a right to feel duped. Congress went out of its way to deny Medicare officials the right to negotiate for lower drug prices from manufacturers. That was a mistake when the costs were projected at $400 billion. It is doubly disastrous at $720 billion. ...