November 25, 2003

Medicare Redux

What is it that is despised by Ted Kennedy, Dick Gephardt, the Wall Street Journal, and Rush Limbaugh?

Trick question, you say. It must be something on the order of killing puppies in public. Or animal husbandry of the Biblically forbidden type. It would take something truly extreme, something really revolting and disgusting, to get those folks to agree on anything, no?

Well, yes and no--it's the new Medicare bill. Conservatives are outraged over this budget-buster, as are liberals. Why? Because the bill is less about solving a problem than it is about paying major campaign donors billions of dollars out of the taxpayer's pockets, as Howard Kurtz observes in today's WASHINGTON POST.

You don't solve the problem of extortionate pricing by taxing the public to raise the Danegeld. You do it by dealing summarily with the blackmailers. But when your blackmailers own your politicians, that's easier said then done. So instead, you pay the blackmailers more and tell your constituents you're doing it to make their lives better.

Just don't mention that you're making their children's lives worse, and mortgaging their future. The Republicans seem to have decided it's time to give up on small government and instead try to beat the records of previous administrations in expanding government, and with this bill they've done that nicely. As REASON magazine's Tim Cavanaugh points out, it's gotten awfully hard to tell the evil party from the stupid party lately. And should you be tempted to think it's actually a partisan thing, go back and re-read Kurtz's column again.

The lesson of history that seems to be going ignored here is that once you pay the blackmailers, they never go away.

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