March 12, 2004 | Daily Mislead Archive
Bush Threatened to Fire Official for Telling Truth
During this time of record deficits, President Bush promised the country that his drug-industry backed Medicare bill would cost $395 billion.1 But just weeks after he signed the bill into law, his own budget office admitted that the bill would actually cost well over $500 billion.2 And today a new report shows that the President knew that the bill cost more than he had claimed, and yet he deliberately hid the information from the public until the legislation was already signed into law.
As revealed in an exclusive Knight-Ridder report, the White House threatened to fire its own top Medicare actuary "if he told lawmakers about a series of Bush administration cost estimates" that priced the bill at more than $500 billion.3 At the time, conservative Republicans had "vowed to vote against the Medicare drug bill if it cost more than $400 billion." This means that the president deliberately misled members of his own party on behalf of the pharmaceutical industry that pushed the bill and has been a top contributor to his campaign.4 As Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC) said, "I think a lot of people probably would have reconsidered" voting for the bill had they not been deliberately misled by the White House.
At Knight-Ridder's website you can see the full text of the 6/26/03 email that Medicare's top actuary Richard S. Foster sent to colleagues informing them of the White House threat.5
1. "Federal Deficit Hits Record $374B", CBS News, 10/20/2003.
2. "Medicare drug plan balloons", Washington Times, 01/29/2004.
3. "Bush administration ordered Medicare plan cost estimates withheld", Knight Ridder, 03/11/2004.
4. Open Secrets.Org.
5. "E-mail from Richard S. Foster, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services", Knight Ridder, 03/11/2004.
Posted on Thu, Mar. 11, 2004
Bush administration ordered Medicare plan cost estimates withheld
By Tony Pugh
Knight Ridder Newspapers
WASHINGTON - The government's top expert on Medicare costs was warned that he would be fired if he told key lawmakers about a series of Bush administration cost estimates that could have torpedoed congressional passage of the White House-backed Medicare prescription-drug plan.
When the House of Representatives passed the controversial benefit by five votes last November, the White House was embracing an estimate by the Congressional Budget Office that it would cost $395 billion in the first 10 years. But for months the administration's own analysts in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had concluded repeatedly that the drug benefit could cost upward of $100 billion more than that.
Withholding the higher cost projections was important because the White House was facing a revolt from 13 conservative House Republicans who'd vowed to vote against the Medicare drug bill if it cost more than $400 billion.
Rep. Sue Myrick of North Carolina, one of the 13 Republicans, said she was "very upset" when she learned of the higher estimate.
"I think a lot of people probably would have reconsidered (voting for the bill) because we said that $400 billion was our top of the line," Myrick said....
E-mail from Richard S. Foster, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Knight Ridder Newspapers
Text of June 26, 2003, E-Mail from Richard S. Foster, chief actuary, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
"This whole episode which has now gone on for three weeks has been pretty nightmarish. I'm perhaps no longer in grave danger of being fired, but there remains a strong likelihood that I will have to resign in protest of the withholding of important technical information from key policy makers for political reasons. Stay tuned."