In the past months we have learned that the prescription drug
benefit passed last year is not going to cost $400 billion over 10
years. The projections now, over a slightly different period, are that
it’s going to cost over $700 billion. And these cost estimates are
coming before the program is even operating. They are only going to go
That means we’re going to be spending the next few months
bleeding over budget restraints that might produce savings in the
millions, while the new prescription drug benefit will produce spending
in the billions.
In Congress, some are taking a look at these new cost projections
and figuring that maybe it’s time to readjust the program. In the House
there are Republicans like Mike Pence and Jeff Flake (whose predictions
of this program’s actual cost have been entirely vindicated by events).
In the Senate there are people like Judd Gregg and Lindsey Graham.
These fiscal conservatives want to make the program sustainable.
Perhaps the benefits should be limited to those earning up to 200
percent of the level at the poverty line. Perhaps the costs should be
capped at $400 billion through other benefit adjustments. These ideas
are akin to what the candidate George Bush proposed in 2000.
But the White House is threatening to veto anything they do! President
Bush, who hasn’t vetoed a single thing during his presidency, now
threatens to veto something – and it’s something that might actually
restrain the growth of government. He threatens to use his first veto
against an idea he himself originally proposed!
Here is David Brooks’s entire opinion piece.