Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Amy's latest -- Can you say "predictable"?

Posted by Craig Westover | 1:21 PM |  

Well, Republicans don’t listen to me, so I had little hope that Democrats might. I’m not surprised that Amy Klobuchar’s latest campaign email tries to make hay out of the Medicare Part D program -- a program any good Democrat has to love.

On Monday, the deadline passed.

Because of Medicare Part D, our seniors spent hours untangling needlessly complicated bureaucracy and 63 different plans just to get the care they need. They should have been spending time with their grandchildren instead. And on Monday, my opponent Mark Kennedy and the leadership in Washington, D.C. penalized 286,000 Minnesotans for not being able to navigate it in time. That's just wrong.

Over the course of my campaign, I've heard hundreds of stories from you of how the influence of special interests in Washington has had negative consequences for working Minnesota families. Nowhere is this more prominent than the policy of Medicare Part D.

As my mom, a retired teacher has said, Medicare Part D got the grade it deserved from the beginning.

Last week, I called on Congress to extend the Part D enrollment deadline. What did my opponent do? Nothing.

We can't afford this kind of "leadership" any longer. We need to bring change to Washington, change that I am committed to bring when I'm elected Minnesota's next U.S. Senator. I will fight for a system that provides everyone access to quality, affordable health care -- without having to swim a sea of red tape to get it.

Help send me to Washington by doing three things today:

Okay -- while Amy pitches for campaign funds, let’s take a look at her rhetoric above. Can I sympathize with seniors trying to unravel the program? You bet. Went through it with my Mom. But also have been through Medicare and Medicaid unraveling and just today was told by the IRS that the mailroom in the IRS Center in Ogden, Utah, made a mistake in accounting for an amended return check I sent and should not have sent it back and would I please void it and mail it back and (I am not kidding) enclose instructions to the mail room on how it should be accounted for.

Point is, nothing the government does is going to be simple. Medicare Part D has to accommodate the needs of millions of seniors. One size doesn’t fit all, that’s why it’s so complicated. That’s why government is so bad at distributing money. That’s an argument for why the concept of the government paying for prescription drugs, which Klobuchar has got to love, is wrong. That’s why Republicans should have fought this bill, not promoted it. Democrats aren’t going to implement it any better and, in fact, did the country a service for many years by being too incompetent to pass it. Amy’s done emailing for dollars. What else does she have to say?

While people in this country are being forced to choose between daily necessities or paying inflated prices for health care, the big drug companies are making huge profits. In fact, the most common medicines now cost on average 48.2% more under Medicare Part D than they do under the VA program.

It's no wonder this program helps the profits of big drug companies instead of average people. It was written by and for the pharmaceutical companies, then made law by rubber-stamp Congressmen like Mark Kennedy. Their campaign contributions paid for this law, and consequently, Medicare Part D's protection of prescription drug companies from negotiating prices with the government, costs taxpayers as much as $90 billion a year. In fact, more than 1/4 of the money my opponent has raised after voting for this bill comes from the special interests.

Meanwhile, my campaign is built by the support from individuals just like you.
Amy’s pitching again, so let’s take another shot at her rhetoric. In the first paragraph she throws out a statistic worthy of Bob Moffitt of the American Lung Association -- it has absolutely no reference and no meaning. It’s also misleading.

Under the VA program the government purchases prescription drugs and uses it’s huge volume to dictate low prices, just one of the reasons the rest of us pay high drug prices. Thus far, that isn’t the case under Medicare. That has nothing to do with the Part D program.

I assume Klobuchar’s argument is that the government should use its purchasing power to reduce prices of all prescription drugs and save that $90 billion she talks about in the next paragraph. Understand, there is a lot wrong with the way big pharmaceutical companies operate, but crippling the industry with what essentially amounts to government setting prices is not the answer. One need look no further than the Vaccine for Children program to see the harmful ramifications of letting government negotiate drug prices for Medicare.

And what about that part of Americans choosing between health care and other necessities? If one wants to make the case that the very poor and the very sick in this country do not have adequate health care, I'm willing to listen. But don't use that relatively small segment of the overall population to justify big government solutions like Medicare Part D, which proposes a solution that greatly exceeds the extent of the problem. More Amy --
Minnesota and the country are ready for change. Whether you are concerned about Medicare, energy independence, or our troops in Iraq -- we deserve better. Minnesota is a critical part of the national effort to take back the U.S. Senate from the special interest groups and the candidates they fund. But we can only do it with your help.
Sure. It’s about time a new set of special interest groups get their hands on federal power.

So far, the Senate campaign, one of the most important in the country, is shaping up as the ignorance of Amy Klobuchar vs the gimmickry of Mark Kennedy. Not exactly the stuff of Lincoln v Douglas-- now that would have been a blog.

Update: Went back and reread some of the Lincoln-Douglas debate. They even insulted each other with flair.
Lincoln: Henry Clay, my beau ideal of a statesman, the man for whom I fought all my humble life-Henry Clay once said of a class of men who would repress all tendencies to liberty and ultimate emancipation, that they must, if they would do this, go back to the era of our Independence, and muzzle the cannon which thunders its annual joyous return; they must blow out the moral lights around us; they must penetrate the human soul, and eradicate there the love of liberty; and then, and not till then, could they perpetuate slavery in this country! [Loud cheers.] To my thinking, Judge Douglas is, by his example and vast influence, doing that very thing in this community, [cheers,] when he says that the negro has nothing in the Declaration of Independence. Henry Clay plainly understood the contrary. Judge Douglas is going back to the era of our Revolution, and to the extent of his ability, muzzling the cannon which thunders its annual joyous return. When he invites any people, willing to have slavery, to establish it, he is blowing out the moral lights around us.
I might bet on a million monkeys typing "Hamlet" before this level of discurse was reached in the argument of fundamental differences between Klobuchar and Kennedy.

I don't fault either for not rising to the level of eloquence of Lincoln and Douglas; I fault them both for not trying.