Conservatives debate Medicare

After narrowly passing earlier today in the House, some doubt an easy time for Bush’s new Medicare bill in the Senate. The vote came down to a difference of five, with some Republicans choosing not to support an expansion of the bloated government program.

So Bush took the issue into his own hands. He made calls to swing Republican voters in the House from Air Force One in an attempt to shift their support away from siding with the Democratic opposition.

Some Republicans, however, weren’t about to bend to the party line. Tom Feeney, a Republican from Florida, told President Bush that his opposition to the bill was more philosophical than political.

"I basically said it was a matter of principle, that I came to Washington not to ratify and to expand Great Society programs," said Representative Feeney. "He wasn't happy to hear that."

That point of view is right. For a party that has vowed to rid the American people of big government, big government clearly abounds--and it's growing under their watch. But, on the other hand, something needs to be done about Medicare. And if something's broke that can't be thrown away, it needs to be fixed.

Republicans who supported the bill are on the right track, even in the face of much demonization from the other side. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi went so far as to charge Republicans with attempting to destroy Medicare.

The Republican plan is a "Trojan horse deal," she said last Tuesday, "which purports to help America's seniors, but is really a cruel hoax that dismantles Medicare."

Obviously, she didn't see the irony in spreading such a mischaracterization of the plan on the same day the AARP endorsed it. House Speaker Dennis Hastert countered with reason all his own.

"They [the AARP] care deeply about the future of Medicare and they wouldn't endorse something that would lead to the end of that program, as some critics contend," he said last Tuesday.

Both conservative camps are right, to a certain extent. But if the program is bound to stick around, fixing it is in order, and Republicans supporting the program are, dare I say, more right. Conservatives in opposition to the bill do raise a good point, but their desires are not feasible, not now.

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