Sunday, May 08, 2005

Hungry? Sick? You Make The Choice

Buried at the bottom of page A20 in today's New York Times, as if Karl Rove had played national editor for the day and determined its placement, is an article by Robert Pear entitled "Under New Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, Food Stamps May Be Reduced."
George W. Bush and the Republican Congress shed many crocodile tears back in 2003 over seniors forced by the high cost of drugs to make a choice between food and medicine. They used this argument to pass Bush's prescription-drug benefit, which was viewed skeptically by seniors at the time, despite Bush's touting of it as a significant new benefit. Now it turns out the Bushies think that choice between food and medicine was just fine -- because if seniors take advantage of the new benefit, they may find their food stamp allocation reduced.
Nice job, George. Once again, you attempt to reap political benefits for your compassionate conservatism while plotting behind the scenes to make sure that nothing is accomplished that would actually benefit people. Oh yes, I know that in the example cited in your guide, old Mrs. Smith actually comes out $25 a month ahead. But if you weren't giving with the left hand and taking away with the right, Mrs. Smith might come out $42 ahead. It isn't a lot of money.
And you'll have to forgive my cynicism, but something just tells me there might be many other examples where seniors actually lose money under the new plan. That's just the way you like to work, George. Note: I tried to locate the information on the Medicare website that would allow me to do some calculations on my own to see if the government example was the rule or the exception. I couldn't find the relevant information, but would welcome a chance to do some figuring of my own if anyone can provide the raw formulas. Of course, I don't even know if I could do this without a lot of additional information about retirement benefits).
There is a principle at stake here that is more important than $17 a month. When hunger and sickness are at stake, shouldn't we be talking about increasing entitlements, period, why are we giving and taking away in the same breath?
Is there really anyone who doubts that Social Security "reform" under GWB would end up being the same sort of shell game?