Letter: Republican power corrupts, especially in Part D benefit
The 43rd and current incumbent first came to the White House promising, "To restore honor and integrity to the presidency." Instead, the ever-increasing concentration of power in the hands of the Republican Party -- the one goal the Rove-Cheney a...
The 43rd and current incumbent first came to the White House promising, "To restore honor and integrity to the presidency." Instead, the ever-increasing concentration of power in the hands of the Republican Party -- the one goal the Rove-Cheney administration has steadily pursued above all others -- has predictably resulted a stench of corruption unparalleled since the days of our 29th president.
The Abramoff scandal, bad as it is (and by no means bipartisan, as some would spin it) is the least of it. The real scandal, as usual, consists not in what is done that is manifestly illegal, but in how very much is legal that ought not to be.
A prime specimen of this kind of legal corruption is the monstrosity that is Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage. In the election cycle of 2002, preceding the program's enactment in 2003, the health insurance industry ponied up over $12.6 million in political contributions, 70 percent of it to Republicans. In return, they got to write a huge and lucrative role for themselves into the Part D script, even though they had no useful part to play whatsoever. Big Pharma also got into the act to the tune of nearly $30 million, 74 percent of it to Republicans, and for that, they got to write in the infamous proviso that the federal government cannot use its vast market power to bargain for lower drug prices.
The resulting program, therefore, manages to combine an immense raid on the treasury (a multibillion-dollar debt with which future generations are to be saddled, this gang's usual practice) with a disastrous failure to deliver the necessary benefit to seniors, who are left tearing out their remaining white hairs trying to fathom the program's more than Byzantine complexities.
Public-spirited local pharmacies that step into the disastrous breach, dispensing needed drugs on the mere hope of reimbursement, are left holding the bag, on the brink of bankruptcy, while insurers and drug companies laugh all the way to the bank, with more than thousandfold returns on their investment of political baksheesh.
Those who profit from and, therefore, defend this unconscionable, inefficient and unimaginably costly system like to wrap themselves in the First Amendment, claiming the protection of free speech for this legalized bribery. One might just as well say that for a defendant to slip C-notes to judge and jury is a legitimate exercise of that sacred right.