September 20, 2005
A BRIARPATCH TOO FAR:
Bush Opposes Delay in Medicare Drug Benefit (Joel Havemann and Janet Hook, September 20, 2005, LA Times)
The White House on Monday ruled out a one-year delay in the Medicare prescription drug benefit as a way of offsetting some of the costs of repairing Hurricane Katrina's devastation of the Gulf Coast.
The administration's rejection of one of the chief ideas from fiscal conservatives for covering the tab for Katrina marked another example of how difficult it will be to spend billions of dollars for hurricane relief without increasing the federal deficit.
Postponing the drug benefit, which is to take effect Jan. 1, was one of the most widely discussed options on Capitol Hill to cover Katrina's costs. Two years ago, the House passed the expensive program by only 5 votes after the Republican leadership kept voting open almost three extra hours to twist the arms of the reluctant rank and file.
A senior aide to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a leader of the faction that wants to offset the costs of hurricane relief with cuts in other spending, said that McCain would support postponing the drug benefit, which he voted against in the first place.
"That drug benefit barely passed," the aide said. "No fiscal conservative could say with a straight face that was a good thing to do."
It's wise of the White House to oppose delay or repeal, in the hopes that would trick Democrats into helping repeal it just to get at the President, but even they can't be that deranged. They'd leave the GOP with the HSAs it's fought decades to win and themselves without an entitlement program. Posted by Orrin Judd at September 20, 2005 6:19 AM