2004 July 22 Thursday
Republican Medicare Drug Benefit Backfires Politically

Bruce Bartlett of the National Center for Policy Analysis says the Medicare drug prescription benefit is hurting the Republicans among older voters.

So far, the data not only show that Republicans have reaped no political benefit from the Medicare expansion, but they are losing support because of it. Ironically, those who will benefit directly from the new drug subsidies, the elderly, are the most hostile. In the process, Republicans have thrown away whatever credibility they had for fiscal responsibility, and are now actively opposed by many conservatives disgusted by their budgetary profligacy.

The reason the drug benefit actually turned old folks away from the Republicans is simple: those desiring the drug subsidies wanted total subsidies and the Democrats are promising a higher level of hand-outs.

A December Gallup poll shows why support is falling. Among the elderly, 73 percent thought the new program wouldnít go far enough in helping them pay for prescription drugs. In other words, the elderly were guaranteed to be disappointed by the drug program no matter how much it cost.

When the Republicans decide to support some transfer payment or other benefit for some group they almost always are going to be outbid by Democrats eager to one-up them with even bigger taxpayer-provided largesse. As I have recently reported, Bush tried to do the same thing with Hispanics and failed on that score as well: Bush Pandering To Hispanics On Immigration Backfires.

The biggest financial problem facing the country is Medicare. By passing a huge extension of Medicare through the prescription drug benefit The Republicans have only made the problem worse and they have done so in a way that has decreased support for the party. Plus, they even told a really big lie about its costs in order to get it passed.

The other big problem facing the country is immigration and the Bush Administration along with a substantial portion of the Republicans in Congress are also contributing to a worsening of that problem. The solid pro-Democrat voting pattern of the Hispanics and their higher-than-whites rates of various social pathologies (e.g. illegitimate births, crime, high school drop-outs, etc) are going to eventually turn them into such a large left-leaning pro-entitlements voting block that the Republicans will become the permanent minority party. The Republicans could move to delay that day but Bush and Karl Rove are instead pursuing a futile attempt to help Bush with Hispanic voters in the short term at the expense of the Republican Party in the long term.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 July 22 12:39 AM  Politics American Domestic

noone said at July 22, 2004 2:08 AM:

Add to this Orrin Hatch pushing federal "Hate Crimes" legislation and Bill Frist pushing for a new affirmative action program for medical schools.Hatch,of course,is best known for writing love songs to Teddy Kennedy and Frist has apperantly forgotten that the Republicans gutted Clinton in '94 over Hillary's health care plan,of which medical school quota's was a not insignificant part(along with requiring every med student to become an abortionist).

John S Bolton said at July 22, 2004 2:22 AM:

I hope that this country will gain statesmen with the fortitude to say stop feeding the Goya monster of ballooning expenses for those who are so old, yet who could pay more of their own funds for their own expenses. If this is anti-compassion or anti-welfare statist, then that's what it is.

Proborders said at July 22, 2004 12:11 PM:

According to a recent poll Hispanic voters favor Kerry/Edwards over Bush/Cheney by about a 2 to 1 margin.

According to another poll Hispanic voters are much more favorable to the Democrats' amnesty plans than Bush's amnesty plan.

Reference: "Bush Support Among Hispanics Slipping, Poll Shows" by Pablo Bachelet.

Proborders said at July 22, 2004 12:25 PM:

Quoting from Allan Wall's "Why The Majority Of Mexican Immigrants Are Not Going To Vote For The GOP":

"The Republican Party faces demographic disaster if it doesn't change course soon...By 2008, if present trends continue, it will be mathematically impossible for the Republican presidential candidate to win the presidential election."

Republicans who support an amnesty for illegal immigrants (and those who favor the current immigration system) seem to not have the long term interest of the Republican Party in mind.

lindenen said at July 22, 2004 7:23 PM:

Why are the people running the show such morons?

Randall Parker said at July 22, 2004 7:49 PM:


One of the most surprising changes in my view of the world as I've learned more is the discovery that the people with political power are nowhere near as knowledgeable, understanding, and clever as I imagined them to be. They make more bad decisions than I thought they did and cause more damage than I expected the leaders of the most powerful country would ever inflict upon the country they govern.

The same holds for my view of academics and pundits. They have less expertise and less wisdom than I thought they did.

Some people do not think things can go that wrong because they think there are people in positions of responsibility who are wise enough to see the longer term negative consequences of big decisions and to avoid making really bad decisions. But think about it. We have the damaging effects upon families and society of the welfare state. We have the damaging effects upon society of our immigration policy. We have the enormous financial problem caused by old age benefits. Our elites continue to make decisions that make all these problems worse.

A lot of the damage is made possible by widespread belief in wrong myths. There is a set of myths about human nature that make possible the ridiculous arguments for open borderst immigration. Myths about human nature made the welfare state possible as well. If more people believed a more realistic view of human nature uninfluenced by Marxism the welfare state never could have been intellectually justified. New Soviet Man was based on a myth about human nature. Socialism was based on a myth. The neocon project to convert the whole world to democracy is based on a myth.

Fly said at July 23, 2004 5:52 PM:

lindenen: ďWhy are the people running the show such morons?Ē

Neither Bush nor Kerry is a moron. The people advising Bush arenít morons.

Part of the problem is that we live in a democracy. Politicians arenít going to push unpopular policies without strong bipartisan support. Social Security reform and immigration reform are hot issues for politically powerful groups. Unless an equally powerful political group arises to push those issues politicians will dodge Ďem. That is the nature of the democratic beast.

Some problems have no easy solution. The WoT is such a problem. I donít know that the Bush strategy will work but I know of no other approach that I believe has a better chance. (Converting ME countries to democracies is only a part of the plan. There are fallback options. And options to the options. That is the nature of such strategies.)

Some problems have no solutions. Iím not sure the N. Korean problem has a solution. I hope things are going on under the table but it could be that anything the US does makes the situation worse.

Some things fall through the cracks. 911 happened partly because too many people just didnít see terrorism as that big a threat.

Itís difficult to know the hidden strategies and agendas of leaders.

I agree with Randall that some policies have been based on social myths.

I disagree that the Bush strategy is based on a neocon myth. Bush isnít a neocon. Nor are all his State Department, military, and security advisors. If Bush is publicly pushing a neocon plan, itís because Bush believes that puts the best face on what the US has to do. (At least thatís what my mind reading tells me.)

One thing I donít believe is that our leaders are morons or evil or are acting without knowledge. Certainly they can be wrong.

Randall Parker said at July 23, 2004 5:57 PM:


Our immigration policy is unpopular with the majority.

Bush and the neocons: He is following their strategy. The non-neocons in his Administration lost the internal debate. The State Department especially lost the debate. The people who won the debate are Wurmser, Libby, Wolfowitz, and other well-placed neocons. Also, the neocon strategy is based partly on a myth about human nature and the world and partly on a desire to help Israel.

gcochran said at July 23, 2004 7:19 PM:

This Administration routinely makes choices that hurt the US and injure their own political chances. Morons? Perhaps. Maybe just fools: maybe insane. Maybe traitors. On the other hand, maybe they just love chaos and death.

Invading Iraq was stupid. In fact, it ranks up there with the great stupid actions of history. Look, before we invaded, I knew that Iraq had no nuclear program and that there was no sign of, nor no money for, any significant banned arms program. They wreen't a threat to their neighbors, even: go ask the Turks. I knew they had little to do with Al-Qaeda. I knew that in terms of satisfying preconditions for democratic self-government, Iraq was in the bottom ten per cent of all nations. I figurted we'd have a low-level guerrilla war on our hands, something like the West Bank or the Israelis in Lebanon, and that we'd have no idea how to solve it - that'd we'd waste hundrds of billions and then skedaddle. I figurted that we'd deeply radicalize Arab and Moslem opinion against us, threatening friednly governments, and that in fact we'd have the whole world pissed at us.

And I was right. On every point. The Administration was wrong on all of those points. Hmm.. I suspect thhe only point that I and the Administration agreed on was that the conventional war would be short and easy - I managed to predict the casualties there pretty accurately, within 25%.

Now, what is my secret? First, I have no boss to suck up to - I call 'em as I see 'em. Second I am of course smarter than any of the key decisionmakers in our government. Not one of them could have ever have been admitted into a graduate physics program. Third, I read extensively and remember most of it - in other words, I KNOW things. As far as I can tell, nobody in this Administration does. Nobody. Wolfowitz said, in Congressional testimony before the war we at least wouldn't have to deal with any holy cities, as in Saudi Arabia. When I heard that, I thought "Karbala?": I knew a _bit_ about the Shiites, but of course Wolfowitz kknew nothing, which is why he makes the big decisions. In an interview with the New York Times in early 2000, Condi Rice was sure that Iran had been supporting the Taleban. I, on the other hand, cursed by years of literacy, knew that the Taleban was more-or-less Wahabist Sunni, death on Shiites (which in Afghanistan meant the Hazara), and that Iran had come THIS CLOSE to _invading_ Afghanistan back in 1998. They didn't like the Taleban. That's why she's National Security Adviser - cause she is a dope, ignorant of the most basic points of international relations. Oh, and ignorant of history as well - let us not forget to mention the infamous guerrilla resistance in occupied Germany - which of course is a lie. I know my WWII history, it never happened - and nobody in this Administration does. Too bad. Come to think of it, none seem to ever read anything about our own Civil War. Early in the War, Union soldiers captured a lone Confederate soldier. The soldier was obviously poor and uneducated therefore, he had little interest in the Constitution and certainly didn't own slaves. When asked why he was fighting he quickly responded "I'm fightin' you're down here." So are the Iraqis.

Colin Powell may not have been able to tell whether thopse aluminum tubes were for a gas centrifuge isotopic separation system, but I could. I looked up the engineering equations (used Google). The walls were too thick and the strength-to-weight ratio too low. Of course, that's what the physicists designing the new DOE centrifuges told their moronic bosses, but they were ignored.

Richard Perle was certain that the Arabs would look favorably on our invasion of Iraq; I was certain that they would not. Who right? Me again - do I get the metaphorical see-gar?

Donald Rumsfeld keeps comparing the situation in Iraq with that in post-Revolutionary America. Only a cretin could think them similar. Americans were the freest people on Earth before the Revolution. They routienly governed themselves. They were prosperous, and that wealth was widely distributd, flowed from the people's labor and skills - not from a hole in the ground. They had useful British political traditions - rule of law, no torture, no military governments. Their educated classes had read Locke or Coke, rather than twentieth-century trash like Marx. They weren;t organzied by tribes, didn't have lots of vendettas. I could go one for about eight days - the comparison is one of the stupidest ever made, wholly fallacious, adn Rumsfeld _keeps_ making it. Sure, maybe it's a talking point, not meant to be 'true', but it's so God-Damned stupid. Either he's a loon or he delights in insulting the voters, not that we don't deserve it.

As far as I can tell not one single person with extensive experience and/or knowledge of the Middle East thought this made any sense. Zinni and Hoar didn't - when was the last time that two recent Marine ex-CentCom commanders have called the President a fool? Schwartzkopf warned against it. When was the last time the Waer College, for God's sake, said that the Administration was fighting a pointless war? Odom, heard of NSA under Reagan and a well-respetced honcho in the intelligence community, thought it was ridiculous.

Most of the Joint Chiefs seem to have thought it was foolhardy, but what do they know? Have _tthey_ ever been the front man for a baseball team?
Every one in the equivalent ranks in the United Kingdom thought the same thing: damn foolishness.

Clinton's people were no more wise, but at least they were less self-confident. We have traded King Log (and a slimy one he was) for King Stork.

Fly said at July 24, 2004 11:46 AM:

ďOur immigration policy is unpopular with the majority.Ē

Yes, as one of your commentors pointed out it is even unpopular with many Hispanics. So when it becomes an important enough issue for enough people there will be political change.

Arnold did get elected in liberal California and won more Hispanic votes than his Latin opponent. One factor was the budget mess partially caused by massive illegal immigration. Another factor was the law allowing illegals to get California driverís licenses.

I believe in picking the low hanging fruit. Focus on getting rid of the cons and gangbanger illegals now. That builds a political constituency and will to take the next steps.

Randall Parker said at July 24, 2004 12:10 PM:


Representative democracy has some inherent flaws. People who vote have to vote on a candidate for too many separate reasons. Unless various issues are separately placed on ballots through an initiative process the rulers can defy the will of the people on many issues for a long time - at least as long as there is a consensus among the rulers across party lines to defy the populace.

John "Akatsukami" Braue said at July 25, 2004 10:57 AM:

I will agree whole-heartedly that our immigration policy is unpopular with the majority.

I would also note that the Electoral College is unpopular with the majority. However, no alternative for replacing it can itself command the necessary majority to do so; it stays in place because of that.

So, I suggest that a different policy on immigration must be one that can command the alligeance, or at the least the acquiescence, of a majority -- not merely the lip-service of voters at election time, but actual willingness to comply with it at all times. I further suggest that that majority be substantial enough that it can overcome the action or inaction of those who would thwart it, whether they think that the reasons for doing so are good or bad, or whether we find those people, their ideas, and their actions admirable or not.

I finally suggest that that policy does not exist.

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