May 23, 2006


In Medicare Debate, Massaging the Facts (ROBERT PEAR, May 23, 2006, NY Times)

If the drug benefit succeeds, Republicans will cite it as a precedent for expanding the role of private insurers in Medicare. Democrats abhor that prospect and are eager to discredit the current benefit. They cite every mix-up and mistake of the last five months as proof that private insurers are less efficient and less reliable than the government.

President Bush and Republican lawmakers boast that they delivered Medicare drug benefits to older Americans after more than a decade of unfulfilled promises and unsuccessful efforts by Democrats.

"It's saving lives, and it's saving money," Representative Phil Gingrey, Republican of Georgia, said last week at a rally on Capitol Hill, celebrating "the unprecedented success of Medicare Part D."

Senator Jim Talent, Republican of Missouri, said many constituents had told him, "This is a godsend."

Besides saving lives and money and opening the way for further privatization of the welfare state how is it conservative?

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 23, 2006 8:33 AM

That one might consider this not "conservative" is more reactionary, thinking, stuck in the past.

It is conservative because it is an an adaptation of conservative values to modern economic conditions. The confusaion comes from buying into the leftist canard that
"conservative" is synonomous with devil-take-the-hindmost, laissez faire, survial of the fittest, starve the poor economics..

This is what the democrats have been selling since Herbert Hoover. It is also the trap that the libertines--the Ayn Rand set--have been getting conservatives to fall into for years.

Politics is the art of the possible. It is not possible to keep our guns and to save the babies if the public thinks we stand for having them living in cardboard shacks and selling apples on streetcorners.

Posted by: Lou Gots at May 23, 2006 11:22 AM

Lou: The amazing thing is all the conservatives who seem to have bought into that reductive view of conservatism: "Oh no, we're spending money. That's not conservative."

Posted by: David Cohen at May 23, 2006 11:42 AM

If you just want a definition of conservatism that requires little heavy lifting, and if you believe all government expenditures are to be done directly by people working for the government (which admittedly, is how many liberal Democrats think the world should be run), then conservatism equates to opposing virtually all government spending. But if you do that, and nothing else, you run into the same problem liberal Democrats have today, in offering up no new solutions to problems the public wants resolved other than let the private sector take care of things with no government help whatsoever.

Posted by: John at May 23, 2006 12:03 PM

David and John, it's not simply "spending money," it's a hugely expensive, open-ended entitlement. Review the history and projected future of entitlement spending over the last 50 years and the next 50 years and tell me why conservatives (and everybody) shouldn't be concerned.

Posted by: PapayaSF at May 23, 2006 2:45 PM


You pose a false choice: this plan or no plan. Libertarians always fall prey to that kind of delusiuon. That's why they don't matter. Too wrapped up in self to be meaningful members of a functional society.

Posted by: oj at May 23, 2006 2:52 PM

This is where I think NRO and others miss the point. They are still complaining about the drug benefit being a huge blunder. As David notes they seem to be against spending any money at all. But if spending $500 now saves you $2000 later isn't that a good deal (assume little impact of time value of money)?

Posted by: AWW at May 23, 2006 3:32 PM

Jeez Louise but we are touchy around here. By all means, conserve the New Deal, guys. We're mighty danged proud of you for it.

Posted by: joe shropshire at May 23, 2006 3:32 PM

I didn't pose any choice. I just don't like a huge expansion of an entitlement that will require either huge cutbacks or huge tax increases in the not-so-distant future.

I'm sure I'm not the oldest person around here, so I think it's odd that so few of you seem to recall decades of conservative and libertarian complaints (all of which are increasingly valid) over out-of-control entitlement spending.

Posted by: PapayaSF at May 23, 2006 6:03 PM

Yes, you don't matter. The enormous majority who did want it were going to get it. Complaints about entitlement spending are ending because the Third Way is solving the problem.

Posted by: oj at May 23, 2006 6:08 PM

"Solving the problem?" So all those economic projections are wrong?

Posted by: PapayaSF at May 24, 2006 2:22 AM

They're like WMD claims. Useful in creating a sense of crisis where none exists.

Posted by: oj at May 24, 2006 9:56 AM