The American Prospect and Daschle v. Kennedy and Bush

Michael Tomasky, incoming executive editor of the liberal American Prospect, labels the prescription drug benefit President Bush has been pushing Congress to adopt as “this Medicare swindle” in a piece on the TAS website today.

It’s hard to see how the word “swindle” applies to a program that will cost taxpayers at least $400 billion more over the next ten years — except in the very unlikely scenario that the TAS believes an expansion of big government is a de facto case of the taxpayers being swindled.

A click on a related piece by TAS co-editor Robert Kuttner on the TAS homepage in search of clues to the TAS point of view brought only the information that the proposed Medicare precription drug benefit has holes in coverage, which it surely does. But surely “swindle” is not the best word to describe that.

Let’s be clear about what the conservative position on Medicare reform and a prescription drug benefit is. Conservatives want senior citizens to have the same health care coverage options as Members of Congress and federal employees. This is no swindle. This would be a vast improvement.

When it comes to Medicare, liberals appear to be split. Some simply want to throw stones, hoping Medicare’s problems will be blamed on Republicans and conservatives, thereby relaunching the liberals into power, where they can once again fail to do anything about a prescription drug benefit. That’s why Senator Daschle declined to push any kind of drug benefit through the Senate when he had the opportunity. Other liberals want to use Medicare as a lever through which the federal government can increase its control of our health care system; aka socialized medicine by stealth. That’s why Senator Kennedy supports the Bush plan now.

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