Doughnut Holes and Clever Smirks

The “doughnut hole” of Medicare’s vaunted Part D has arrived, swallowing up an estimated 3 million older Americans who have to survive the rest of the year on drugs they have to pay for out of pocket. At least they should have known about it, because it was written into law and advertised.

Other health and social programs run by the government are in actual disarray.

— The Institute of Medicine reports that the FDA’s drug approval and safety mechanisms are broken.

— Hundreds of thousand of elderly were asked to send benefits back to the government due to a payment error caused by the inability – or refusal – of the Social Security Administration to cooperate with Medicare.

— Although the administration and Congress cannot yet get away with privatizing Medicare,they are trying to do so piece by piece by subsidizing private insurance plans that offer the same benefits at lower cost.

— The “Reading First” program of the Education Department broke regulations and ethical standards to give money to political friends.

The folks in Washington, unable to win political support for dismantling government, seem intent on creating a regime of such incompetence and dishonesty that they hope people will conclude programs must be destroyed in order to save them.

What clever smirks they are wearing.

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