Josh Marshall is trying to focus on the fallout from the rollout of Medicare Part D on New Year's Day, but few others seem to be catching on to the immense potential for negative karma from seniors towards the Bush administration. Not for nothing--I'd bitch too if the government screwed up my access to meds--but the elderly patient scorned of her meds is more than a political cliche, it's a Congressman's worst recess nightmare. When a politician is on recess for an extended period, he usually goes back home and works the district or state in various forums, town halls and meetings. You know who goes to most of those town halls? Old people. And you know who loves to cover angry old people yelling at their Congressman? Local media. Multiply a couple hundred times, and you have the number of squirmy, gritted-teeth officials watching this supposed aid bill turn into a complete fiasco.
The WaPo article, vague and bland, doesn't really express the extent of the problems the rollout has caused. Maybe it's time to rely on other outlets, and not give the Post the benefit of the doubt on Washington politics. How about the Trib, breaking down the political costs?
Hailed as a revolutionary advance by the administration, the program just squeaked by in the House in November 2003.
The House vote reverberates in GOP politics today. Arizona conservative Rep. John Shadegg recently joined the race for House majority leader, for instance, on a platform that includes past opposition to the Medicare bill. One of just 25 Republicans to vote no, Shadegg claimed at the time that it was too expensive and would help ''buy medicine for millionaires.''
Republicans fear that if the problems aren't fixed quickly, their political woes could mount, especially once enrollment closes May 15. Some Republicans, inside and outside the White House, have discussed moving back the deadline.
Critics compare the measure to the complicated Clinton health care plan that failed in Congress.
''It's a very complicated program. I'd like to ask the president to explain it himself,'' said Paul C. Light, a professor of public service at New York University. ''If the president and the Cabinet had to enroll, I think they might soon find out that this is a very tangled web of promises that are difficult to unravel.''
Bully for Shadegg, by the way. Between a Blunt and a Boner, I'm not sure Shadegg doesn't have some appeal.
Just to give you an idea of how repetitive this is nationwide:
- Medicare Part D gets low grades so far
- State's Part D tab in millions NorthJersey.com, NJ
- Seniors cope with botched roll out of Medicare Part D Harwich Oracle, MA
- Editorial: Medicare mess lies at feet of Congress
- Medicare Part D drug problems persist as state tally piles up BurlingtonFreePress.com, VT
- Medicare Drug Plan Looks Like a Big Scam Los Angeles Times, CA
Get the picture? For an analysis of the practical issues surrounding why Bush's Medicare effort is sucking a big egg, Jacob Weisberg at Slate offers his thoughts.