Alex's Outlook

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Surprise! The GOP doesn't sell out on Medicare.

The House-Senate conference has struck a tentative deal on Medicare that includes a "pilot privatization" program in 4 cities (where Medicare will start competing with private companies immediately) and a means-testing provision so that we don't have to pay for Bill Gates' Rx drugs. Ted Kennedy and Tom Daschle are calling it "untried, untested and unworkable," so the GOP must be doing something right.

I'd be surprised if it was conservative enough to satisfy the House, without a medical savings account (MSA) provision. Even so, at least one Medicare moderate (John Breaux) is definitely for it, and Baucus might be, too. If either moderate, along with the AARP supports it (they were all involved in the negotiations), it will do significant political damage to the Democrats if they decide to filibuster. Either way, the Dems will get scorched - the compromise bill will make their base mad, and if they filibuster it they're going to lose ground with seniors and probably everyone else too.

Every day, the Democrats prove that they have no vision for the country beyond obstructing the Republican program and hanging on to the unsustainable status quo, whether in isolationist foreign policy, tort reform, or Social Security. Not exactly a recipe for returning to the majority. A whiff of 1963 is in the air.

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