No Free Markets For Me, Thank You Very Much

NO FREE MARKETS FOR ME, THANK YOU VERY MUCH….In other news on the “egregiously bad legislation” front, Kicking Ass points us to this ABC News story about the prescription drug bill worming its way through Congress:

Two Republican senators are seeking to shelter their states from part of an emerging Medicare bill, fearing their constituents could face higher premiums because of competition between traditional coverage and new private health plans for seniors, officials said Friday.

….”I … strongly protest the possible use of my constituents as a testing ground for premium support,” Specter wrote top Republicans recently. He noted that Pittsburgh and Johnstown in his state meet the criteria for an experimental program under discussion, and added that those “who are negatively affected by this proposed demonstration must be indemnified.”

In much the same way that Republicans “support” vouchers but don’t want voucher programs tested in their states, they also “support” Medicare competition but want no part of it for their constituents.

And you have to love the call for “indemnification.” Translation: we already have to bribe the healthcare providers $12 billion because they don’t want to participate in this program, and even then the program sucks so bad that we need to bribe the participants too. Give me a break. If we’re going to pay the providers an extra $12 billion and Specter still thinks his constituents are likely to get crappier service than they do now, what does that tell you about Republican faith in the wonders of competition?

Republican Senators from Oregon and Arizona are also worried about the Medicare bill because they fear that Portland, Tucson, and Phoenix might be used as testing grounds. It kind of reminds me of Alaska congressman Don Young, who supported efforts to privatize air traffic control but insisted on exempting the airport next to his hotel.

Republicans seem to have a disturbing lack of faith in free enterprise whenever there’s a chance that it might actually affect them. Perhaps from now on they should simply make it a standard feature of their legislation that it never applies to states or districts that vote Republican. Unless it’s pork, of course, in which case it applies only to states and districts that vote Republican.