Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 13, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

PRIORITIES....It's always good to see Republican administrations taking the actual administration of federal programs so seriously:

California officials ordered emergency action Thursday to cover drug costs for 1 million elderly citizens, many of whom have been denied life-saving medications or charged exorbitant amounts because of glitches in the new federal prescription drug program.

....Critics said the program, which Bush has touted as the most significant advance in Medicare in 40 years, was fast becoming a public health emergency. California officials said that as many as one-fifth of the 1 million elderly, poor or disabled state residents who were switched into the federal program on Jan. 1 could be wrongly denied their medications because of flaws in the program.

In Illinois, Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, took action similar to Schwarzenegger's, ordering state funds to be used to provide emergency drug coverage for the elderly. Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a leading figure among Republican governors on health policy issues, took a similar step Wednesday. Nine states, including California, have stepped in to fill the gaps in the federal program.

If George Bush and Karl Rove spent half as much time on the actual governance of the country as they do on figuring out new ways to portray Democrats as weak-kneed terrorist appeasers, seniors might be getting their drugs. But we all have our priorities.

Kevin Drum 12:32 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (63)

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Comments

It really should be obvious to anyone, Democrats and Republicans alike, that Bush has no interest in actually governing the country. He loves politics and military adventure, but making the government run bores him to tears.

Posted by: Boots Day on January 13, 2006 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Try selling it to the Americans in Novemeber 2006 that our first priority should be giving free prescription drugs to the seniors who did not have the foresight to save for their retirement when they were young.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 13, 2006 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Boots Day

Your last sentence needs correction.

He loves divisive politics and military misadventure, but making the government run bores him to tears.

Posted by: lib on January 13, 2006 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Try selling it to the Americans in Novemeber 2006 that our first priority should be giving free prescription drugs to the seniors who did not have the foresight to save for their retirement when they were young.

Good point tbrosz. Cutting or eliminating Medicare would probably help increase our savings rate which is a non-partisan policy that economists support. Increasing our savings rate and lowering consumption would decrease interest rates which would improve our economic growth. So cutting Medicare gives us a stronger economy.

Posted by: Al on January 13, 2006 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, what you are describing is a "feature" of Bush's management style, not a "bug." When Bush said he was going to "delegate" while he was president, what he meant was that he would pursue critically flawed, but politically shrewd policies and leave everyone else to pick up the pieces and clean up the mess. To Bush, this is what "leadership" is-- doing nothing until things get to a critical point, coming in and smashing up a bunch of things with little forethought in an effort to look like he's "doing something," and letting everyone else do the repairs.

Posted by: Constantine on January 13, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Bush is in permanent campaign mode - he knows nothing else. Did he execute any programs competently in TX, besides the obvious executions?

And Karl could juggle all these balls in two-bit TX, but they're all tumbling down now.

Posted by: Flamethrower on January 13, 2006 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Yada yada yada.

Posted by: Matt on January 13, 2006 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Absolutely correcto Al, and just consider what the wonders of euthenasia for all Seniors could accomplish as well. You could sell it to Twigless who would think that it was foreign aid for China; the "Youth in Asia" plan.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 13, 2006 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Al (or whichever one of the doppAlgangers you are), you're on the right track when you write:

"Increasing our savings rate and lowering consumption would decrease interest rates which would improve our economic growth. So cutting Medicare gives us a stronger economy."

The solution, obviously, since healthcare is such a huge part of our GNP, is to simply eliminate healthcare spending by anyone making under, say, $500,000 per annum. That should provide an excellent boost to savings and the economy. It will also have a nice bonus effect of helping to kill off much of the poor a little bit faster.

Posted by: The Confidence Man on January 13, 2006 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

If George Bush and Karl Rove spent half as much time on the actual governance of the country as they do on figuring out new ways to portray Democrats as weak-kneed terrorist appeasers...

Half? That's mighty generous of you Kevin.
Try ANY time at all on governance.

Posted by: ckelly on January 13, 2006 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

the Medicare benefit is a poison pill designed to show to the country that the government is incapable of running a drug plan.

Posted by: cleek on January 13, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

I think we should all be thankful they are not inetrested in governing.

Do you realize how much more damage their incompetence will cause if they actually tried to govern?

Posted by: lib on January 13, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Except that this is not a program "government-run" program. These are private-sector companies screwing things up (and often being bailed out by State governments). The new Medicare drug benefit is certainly a flawed law, which is a legislative problem; but the implementation disaster is a problem created by the private sector. In no way should this be used as evidence that the government cannot manage healthcare.

Posted by: Dan on January 13, 2006 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Could Tbroz please explain how these drugs are free.

Posted by: scott on January 13, 2006 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

Needless to say, if this news polls badly, there will be an emergency meeting at the WH to discuss how this might affect the Nov. elections.

(campaign manager in the West Wing. Explains so much...)

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on January 13, 2006 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

Al has a point. Perhaps we should bring back ice floes. Besides saving lots of money, think of the fun it would be to watch old people being floated out to sea. The confused looks on their faces would be priceless!

Posted by: craigie on January 13, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Fake tbrosz gets the kids every time...

Hey, fake tbrosz--thanks for the laughs we're not having.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 13, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Think of it as another aspect of Social Security reform. If you kill a lot of old people, then you save so much money that S.S. won't go "flat broke".

Posted by: Jim Ramsey on January 13, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

At least I would have a little more respect for them if they actually tried running the country. Even if it was in their "I hate government except for the huge no-bid contracts" mode.

So rather than establishing a worthless Medicare drug plan, or hiring an incompetent crony to run FEMA, they ought to say, "Medicare's not going to cover any drugs any more, and we're eliminating the federal government's emergency disaster response agency." Then people would know exactly what kind of government we're dealing with.

Of course, that would also reduce the Republican party to the level of the Green party.

Posted by: Boots Day on January 13, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Not the real tbrosz. Keep up, people.

Interestingly, in an article I read recently about Arnie, he alledgely contacted some crusty old Republican political advisor, and asked what he should do about his dismal poll numbers. The response was "Just govern, dammit!"

Which I like a lot. Maybe that guy could call the White House.

Posted by: craigie on January 13, 2006 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone else suspect this wasn't an accident? In the past week, the federal gov't has "accidentally" forgotten to make thousands of poor seniors eligible for their prescription benefits and the IRS has "accidentally" flagged thousands of low-income taxpayers' returns as fraudulent. And of course, this comes after FEMA accidentally forgot to have any sort of plan to deliver food, water and medicine to thousands of poor people trapped in New Orleans. Sounds more like a systematic, unspoken program to slap poor people around a bit and remind them who's in charge. In other words, exactly what you'd expect from a bunch of arrogant, overgrown prep school kids.

Posted by: MW on January 13, 2006 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Funny thing.With all the money scandals going on the right might have to cut back on the blog watchers,You think the trolls will go to the unemploment line?

Posted by: scott on January 13, 2006 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

My fiance works for a home healthcare company (they do home infusions). Not suprisingly, they've found the implementation of the new Medicare rules to be a complete fucking nightmare from start to finish. They're spending half their days trying to figure out how much they're going to be paid, which has never been a problem with Medicare before. (You can complain about how low Medicare reimbursements are, but they've always been crystal-clear about exactly what they cover ... until now.)

Posted by: Mnemosyne on January 13, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Tbroz,

These are not free drugs for well off seniors. The problem right now is drugs with co-payments, many for the first time to poor and disabled. If you had one brain cell, which would be one more than you have, you would know that. (I know you are a brainless troll. You should hope you never get cronically ill and are treated the way you think other should be treated)

Posted by: Tigershark on January 13, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

"Yada, yada, yada"

Slow day picking up workers down at the Poverello House, Matt? Try the Fresno Rescue Mission, or cruise South Fresno and pick up some "Mixtecs" for almost nothing - Help North Fresno grow and expand with gated communities. Hey, maybe you can contract for some cheap work over at Victor Davis Hanson's place.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 13, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

> Kevin, what you are describing is a
> "feature" of Bush's management style, not a "bug."

Absolutely. This is the intended outcome of the policy. Grover Norquist writ large.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on January 13, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

15 senate seats go Dem. this year.Count on it!

Posted by: scott on January 13, 2006 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

What do you expect from people who don't even seem to know the difference between medicaid and medicare. As recounted by John DiLulio:

"I heard many, many staff discussions but not three meaningful, substantive policy discussions," he writes. "There were no actual policy white papers on domestic issues. There were, truth be told, only a couple of people in the West Wing who worried at all about policy substance and analysis, and they were even more overworked than the stereotypical nonstop, twenty-hour-a-day White House staff. Every modern presidency moves on the fly, but on social policy and related issues, the lack of even basic policy knowledge, and the only casual interest in knowing more, was somewhat breathtaking: discussions by fairly senior people who meant Medicaid but were talking Medicare; near-instant shifts from discussing any actual policy pros and cons to discussing political communications, media strategy, et cetera. Even quite junior staff would sometimes hear quite senior staff pooh-pooh any need to dig deeper for pertinent information on a given issue."

After reading this, is when I became an official "Bush hater." Can you blame me? They're friggin incompetent.

http://www.ronsuskind.com/newsite/articles/archives/000032.html

Posted by: Cognitive Dissonance on January 13, 2006 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone saving money the way Bush does could have a bit of trouble. I note he doesn't mind offloading woes to California Republicans. We may figure out medically-induced bankrutcy is a valid cause of death. Too bad it will never appear on any report.

Posted by: opit on January 13, 2006 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

The obvious point is that you should use your lawyer to find the best perscription drugs.

After all, Healthcare in America would be so much better if people just stop bothering their Doctors.

Posted by: Jon Karak on January 13, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Try selling it to the Americans in Novemeber 2006 that our first priority should be giving free prescription drugs to the seniors who did not have the foresight to save for their retirement when they were young.

I think we should kill people who don't have adequate savings. We could put a little chip on their hand that would flash blue if their net worth ever fell below a certain point.

Posted by: Stephen on January 13, 2006 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

YOU DON't get it. medicare d is a back way to get into social security checks. info. given you may have your payments taken out of your soc. security checks. and no doubt will. another sneak trick of g.b. check the fed. information.

Posted by: olive smith on January 13, 2006 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

California officials ordered emergency action Thursday to cover drug costs for 1 million elderly citizens, many of whom have been denied life-saving medications or charged exorbitant amounts because of glitches in the new federal prescription drug program.,/i>

And Kevin Drum said that Bush's drug policy was a "liberal" program.

Strange, seems like nothing more than another one fo Bush's un-bid corporate slush funds to me.

In fact I say that Bush's elderly citizen rip off policy certainly it seems more like the Jack Abramoff style to me, complete with threatening the Medicare chief's job. Like Abramoff, the Repugs could either go to war with (kill) or theaten anyone that gets in their way.

Posted by: Cheryl on January 13, 2006 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

While this may be a real issue, at this point that entire article is a load of gas. Go back and see how often terms similar to "many could be..." is used. The only actual number that seems to show up in the article that can be tied to the problem is the 40 emergency calls per day to that advocacy organization. Since January 1st, that's about 520 calls.

Everything else is anecdotal and sheer speculation, mostly from people who have a very large political interest in seeing this program fail. As I have mentioned before, I opposed this entire idea, both the Democratic and Republican versions. But somehow, I expect that if this idea had Democratic fingerprints on it instead of Bush's, the L.A. Times would be talking about minor "teething pains" here.

In a few weeks, we should have some real numbers as we see how many people need the auxiliary funding.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 13, 2006 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, there's something a little weird about watching the fake tbrosz and the fake Al patting each other on the back.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 13, 2006 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Try selling it to the Americans in Novemeber 2006 that our first priority should be giving free prescription drugs to the seniors who did not have the foresight to save for their retirement when they were young.

As opposed to selling the idea that seniors who have been screwed by the Bush administration out of their medications are just irresponsible and should shut up?

Posted by: DH Walker on January 13, 2006 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

If George Bush and Karl Rove spent half as much time on the actual governance of the country as they do on figuring out new ways to portray Democrats appeasers, seniors might be getting their drugs. But we all have our priorities.

Anybody have any info on what percentage of seniors voted for Bush?

Posted by: koreyel on January 13, 2006 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Fake or real what is the dif. they say the same thing.Oh bye the way next month starts the terror alert program brought to you by the reelect a republican program.

Posted by: scott on January 13, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

i don't think he wants hearings, this is just the spin now that hearings are inevitable.
10 days ago Bush said any hearings would "aid the enemy" or some such ...
and there is evidence of Abuses, already. Russ Tice said he witnessed "abuses" of the program, and Andrea Mitchell still hasn't explained her question about Amanpour being spied on.
Whatever the political fallout, Bring on the hearings, judiciary, intel and even in the house thanks to Conyers.
Let's find out what this program really is.

Posted by: warbly on January 13, 2006 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

But somehow, I expect that if this idea had Democratic fingerprints on it instead of Bush's, the L.A. Times would be talking about minor "teething pains" here.

Still clinging to that, eh? They replace Sheer with Goldnuts, and you're still a persecuted minority. It's all too, too tragic, this abuse of conservative ideology.

Posted by: craigie on January 13, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Well said Mr Tom, especially for one who can always have a family member bring home "free samples" of drugs. Thanks, once again for your courtesy and concern in this matter.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 13, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

While this may be a real issue, at this point that entire article is a load of gas. Go back and see how often terms similar to "many could be..." is used.

That's rich coming from tbrosz, as he always is willing to bet or suspects the contrary to be true when presented with incontrovertible facts.

Posted by: nut on January 13, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

And I used to think Logan's Run and The Parallax View were far fetched.

Posted by: stupid git on January 13, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

There is a war on Easter, The Dems have to be stopped.

Posted by: scott on January 13, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Does Easter coincide with rabbit hunting season this year?

Posted by: WhoSays on January 13, 2006 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Our Fearless Figurehead may blunder his way through life but I have no doubts that his shadow entourage know exactly what they are doing. Isn't it sweet how the states are being forced to step in and help in this crisis. And won't it be neat when the whole Social Security program gets tossed down to state level, seeing that this crisis has uncovered the fact that there is state budget access to help seniors with.
I believe this country is being thoroughly "governed", as in twisted and manipulated by greedy self-protecting fat cats. We don't hear about it because the changes aren't exactly what We, the People would vote for. Rove, Cheney, and Them must get a great laugh at us blaming the puppet.

Not the real Abe L.

Posted by: Abe L. on January 13, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

"In eight months, I heard many, many staff discussions, but not three meaningful, substantive policy discussions. There were no actual policy white papers on domestic issues.

There were, truth be told, only a couple of people in the West Wing who worried at all about policy substance and analysis, and they were even more overworked than the stereotypical, non-stop, 20-hour-a-day White House staff.

Every modern presidency moves on the fly, but, on social policy and related issues, the lack of even basic policy knowledge, and the only casual interest in knowing more, was somewhat breathtaking-discussions by fairly senior people who meant Medicaid but were talking Medicare; near-instant shifts from discussing any actual policy pros and cons to discussing political communications, media strategy, et cetera.

Even quite junior staff would sometimes hear quite senior staff pooh-pooh any need to dig deeper for pertinent information on a given issue."

John DiIulio
October 2002

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on January 13, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone who has contact with senior citizens already knows how screwed up the whole system is.

This program should convert at least 30% of population into ardent Bush haters.

Good job Repubs. Very good job.

Posted by: lib on January 13, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

I used to have this 'boss' at work who, because he was taking classes at the time, would come in at noon and work well into the evening, while I would work a normal 9 to 5 day. And he was a total screw-up, he had little idea of how to go about doing what we were supposed to be doing (computer programming).

It got to the point that I was spending my entire morning figuring out what mess he had made the night before, and cleaning it up.

The dilemma became whether I should continue to clean up his screw-ups, or let the big bosses see what was going on. On the one hand, the sooner they saw what a bad job he was doing, the sooner he'd get fired and be out of my life. On the other hand, allowing his screw-ups to go uncorrected would have cost the company customers and business, etc., hurting everyone.

That's what these state governors are doing. If they don't step in, the ineptitude of the Bushies becomes more apparent to more voters more quickly, and then Dems have a better chance of regaining some control of the government more quickly. But that would also mean that many seniors are hurt by their inaction.

So, like I kept doing, the governors are compelled to step in, obscuring the real problem.
You gotta do it, but it sure does grate on you while you do.

The good news is that after a while, my boss's incompetence showed through, and he got canned. Soon (but not soon enough) that will happen to these incompetent Republicans.

Posted by: Robert Earle on January 13, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

It will be interesting to see the post-analysis of this fiasco when the dust settles. If you know anyone who works in the healthcare industry, by all means ask them how many patients have been admitted since 01.01.06 just so they can receive their meds as inpatients because Medicare already covered that.

In addition to the prophylactic admissions, how many people have been admitted because they were in a healthcare crisis because they didn't have their meds? This is a nasty little problem folks. This is our healthcare issue if they don't piss it away.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 13, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Well said Mr Tom, especially for one who can always have a family member bring home "free samples" of drugs. Thanks, once again for your courtesy and concern in this matter.

That doesn't happen, and I'm not letting the implication go by without saying so.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 13, 2006 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

Cutting or eliminating Medicare would probably help increase our savings rate which is a non-partisan policy that economists support.

That's right, denying the elderly access to healthcare, that will help the savings rate. You are an idiot.

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on January 13, 2006 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Kudos Tom. I bring home samples every chance I get.

However, the only place samples are readily available are from a doctors office. Tom's wife is a pharmacist. Every pill in her stock must be accounted for if the feds come auditing.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 13, 2006 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

Wondered where that was coming from. Space tech doesn't make me think of drug availability. Now if I could figure out why the attitude.

Posted by: opit on January 13, 2006 at 9:48 PM | PERMALINK

Meanwhile, while Medicare burns....

Check out what Karl Rove is doing....

http://www.statesman.com/search/content/news/stories/local/01/14297164_KARLROVERGZROVE1.html

Posted by: L on January 14, 2006 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

Get off your high horse Mr T. Your wife has a PhD and works for a Pharma, not Rite Aid. Pharmas give samples to doctors and hospital. I'll not say another word about that if you will show some degree of sympathy for the working poor and the elderly who lack health care. Every time there is a thread about health care, you start posting your "links" to why the present system is so wonderful. Screw you Tom and the Pharmas and the HMOs. We need Universal Health care in this nation and the hell with your precious pocketbook.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 14, 2006 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

The Medicare Drug bill is acknowledged by all to be a way to funnel more money to the drug/pharma industry, which in turn funnels more money back to the Republican coffers, which in turn, consolidates Republican power. Bush has his priorities completely in line and killing a bunch of poor old people is a nice side benefit. Did anyone pay attention to the fact that it was announced this week that we are now at 16% of the GDP for healthcare..more than 6% higher than Canada. Tom Frist is smiling...The stealing and killing machine is working beautifully...say terrorist once more and divert the attention of idiots.

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Posted by: dfd on January 14, 2006 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Let's get back to big pharma for a minute: If they stopped giving out samples, stopped advertising, and stopped with the promotional products - I personally own lab coats, stethoscopes, coffee mugs, Oakley sunglasses, clipboards, calculators, t-shirts, polo-shirts, jackets, scrubs, pens, post-it note pads, all manner of swag, emblazoned with drug names - a hell of a lot more people could afford to buy drugs.

While it is true that the first pill costs billions to make, the second and subsequent pills cost pennies to make. Without 6-figure drug reps handing out swag, a lot more people would be able to afford to outright buy their meds.

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Posted by: david on January 16, 2006 at 12:21 AM | PERMALINK

A WEAK Case for Impeachment?
1. Bush has apparently broken the FISA law repeatedly and knowingly. He refuses to divulge the extent of this law-breaking, and asserts both his right and his intent to continue breaking the law. Beyond that, he lied publicly in the past, claiming that he was seeking warrants for his domestic spying.

2. Bush asserted that he will not obey the McCain anti-torture law AS HE WAS SIGNING IT, thereby apparently asserting his right to break any law at all whenever he, without review of any kind, deems it "necessary".

3. Bush clearly lied his ass off to promote Congress into voting him the authority to invade Iraq if it was necessary, and then broke even THAT law by invading even though he KNEW the evidence for Iraq's WMD threat was weak or nonexistent.

This is a WEAK case for impeachment? If ever a president should be impeached, it's this one. None of the predecessors Drum mentions come close to this level of deceit, this level of mockery of the law, this level of "L'etat, c'est moi"-ism.

He is, as the Times implied in its reject-Alito editorial on Sunday, a far greater threat to American democracy than bin Laden.

Posted by: Bradenton on January 16, 2006 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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