Newt Gingrich has positioned himself as the “true conservative” in the Republican Presidential primary. And last night he trumpeted his support for the Medicare Part D drug benefit program, which was spearheaded by Republican majorities in Congress and signed by Republican President George W. Bush. Sorry, but supporting Part D and being a conservative don’t go together.
Gingrich said he supported the measure because it didn’t make sense to pay for kidney dialysis and open heart surgery but refuse to pay for insulin or heart medicine. That’s logical enough.
But Medicare Part D was and still is a fiscally reckless program. Unlike Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) which is 84% funded by a dedicated payroll tax, Medicare Part D has absolutely no dedicated revenue source at all, beyond the very modest premiums paid by beneficiaries! And when the prescription drug benefit was put in place there were no attempt to offset the added costs by cutting elsewhere.
In other words, the government’s Medicare Part D costs of about $50 billion per year go straight to expanding the federal deficit.
Worse yet, Medicare Part D is available to any Medicare eligible person regardless of income. That means many seniors who don’t need another handout from the government are getting one.
You can’t be a conservative and be in favor of Medicare Part D. So, which is it, Newt?January 24, 2012