Arizona GOP Senator John McCain comes to town to raise money for Tommy Thompson.
An odd assignment, given Tommy's role as George's W. Bush's Health and Human Services Secretary in quarterbacking the creation of Medicare's Part D drug program - - a program McCain ripped on the Senate floor:
FLOOR STATEMENT OF SENATOR JOHN McCAIN ON MEDICARE PRESCRIPTION DRUG, IMPROVEMENT, AND MODERNIZATION ACT OF 2003--CONFERENCE REPORT
November 24, 2003
Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, we have before us a conference report that represents one of the biggest expansions of the Medicare entitlement program and offers enormous profits and protections for a few of the country's most powerful interest groups, paid for with the borrowed money of American taxpayers for generations and generations to come.
This legislation reminds me of the ancient medieval practice of leeching. Every special interest in Washington is attaching itself to this legislation and sucking Medicare dry.
We do not need leeching. What we need is reform...
What is absolutely astounding is that this new benefit will add an estimated $7 trillion in additional unfunded liabilities... By the year 2020 Social Security and Medicare, with a prescription drug benefit, will consume an estimated 21 percent of income taxes for every working American.
I think we ought to be honest with the American people. Passing this package without implementing the necessary reforms to ensure that the Medicare system is solvent over the long term is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic....
Unfortunately, the minor reforms in this bill do not even begin to offset the burden added by the new drug benefit. With future generations of American taxpayers funding the purchase of prescription drugs under Medicare, we have an obligation to ensure some amount of cost containment against the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs. Unfortunately, however, this package explicitly prohibits Medicare from using purchasing power to negotiate lower prices with manufacturers.
How is that possible? The Veterans' Administration, the VA, and State Medicaid Programs use market share to negotiate substantial discounts. It is prohibited in this bill. The taxpayers should be able to expect Medicare, as a large purchaser of prescription drugs, to be able to derive some discount from its new market share. Instead, taxpayers will provide an estimated $9 billion a year in increased profits to the pharmaceutical industry...
We cannot let political shortsightedness blind us from the long-term fiscal implications of this package.