Looks like Medicare Part D just can't hear a kind word, even among those specifically chosen to say kind words about it:
Stephen Nohlgren writes in the St. Petersburg Times: "While President Bush was in Virginia touting his new Medicare drug plan Tuesday, delegates to the fifth White House Conference on Aging demanded it be overhauled.
"Their paths never crossed.
"Unlike his three predecessors, including his father, Bush will not attend the four-day conference. The administration is well represented there, a White House spokeswoman said.
" 'The purpose of the conference was to develop recommendations for research and action in the field of aging and present a report with their findings to the president,' said spokeswoman Jeanie Mamo. 'The president participated at an event in Springfield, Va., to educate seniors on Medicare prescription drugs and encourage them to sign up with the program.' . . .
"Bush, Republican governors and Republican members of Congress appointed most of this year's 1,200 delegates, which makes the resistance to [the drug plan] particularly striking."
Remarkably, it gets worse:
Larry Lipman and Ken Herman write in the Palm Beach Post: "Rather than embracing the Medicare drug law and Bush's call for private Social Security investment accounts, delegates at work sessions on those issues overwhelmingly rejected those positions.
"In nonbinding position statements developed at conference workshops, delegates called for scrapping the 2-year-old Medicare drug law -- which takes effect next month and relies on private insurance companies to provide benefits -- and replacing it with a government-run program similar to how Medicare covers doctor and hospital care.
"Delegates also vehemently rejected any proposal that would divert Social Security payroll taxes into private investment accounts. Such a proposal had been Bush's top domestic priority earlier this year, but has been largely abandoned since the summer."
When the White House can't rely on hand-picked conservatives to support their proposals, you know that the wheels have not only come off the train, but the resulting derailment crushed a lame duck. Don't get me wrong, Medicare Part D is a bad program, but the backlash it's engendered is really astonishing. Given the level of disgust, the electoral importance of seniors, and the paucity of congressional support for the bill, I'd be surprised to see the current conception of Part D last more than three years.