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The president's cowardly vagueness
October 9, 2012 - Mike Maneval
During the first presidential debate Wednesday night, President Barack Obama said, "when I walked into the Oval Office, I had more than a trillion-dollar deficit greeting me. And we know where it came from: two wars that were paid for on a credit card; two tax cuts that were not paid for; and a whole bunch of programs that were not paid for."
There was no further explanation of what the "whole bunch of programs" were, which is a shame that should embarrass the president. Of course, I can not speak for certainty on each and every program of which the president was thinking - which entirely is his fault - but it seems one of the most likely culprits is the disaster known as Medicare Part D, an unfunded program of precription drug handouts for the elderly.
Medicare Part D, which was passed by a majority-Republican congress and signed by Republican President George W. Bush, has been funded through deficit spending from its very first day. The beneficiaries never spent so much as a cent on the freebies they derive from this wasteful program. And the program, beyond the costs it adds to the deficit and national debt every year - a figure Reason magazine places at about $16 trillion - further distorts the market for medicine and medication. When the government ensures it will pick up the tab on the prescription drug bill for a growing number of American consumers, it eliminates the risk the companies face that higher and higher prices will result in their customers simply declining to purchase their overpriced wares. It obliterates any incentive for pharmaceutical companies to price their products reasonably and leaves hard-working Americans middle-aged or younger confronted with a future of price-gouging.
And the health care reform law championed and signed by President Obama not only failed to address the redistribution of wealth and shielding of outrageous pricing inherent in Medicare Part D - it enabled it, through codifying closure of a gap within this horrible policy. And while that may explain why Obama failed to identify the program and it's wasteful shortcomings, it does not justify it.
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