Seniors to Bush: You Call This a Prescription Drug Benefit?
The GOP's plan is clear enough. Give seniors a prescription drug benefit and they'll move toward the Republicans as the party that can get things done for seniors.
But what if they don't like it? Then you get blame instead of credit and the whole political scheme just might fall apart. Recent Gallup data suggests this a real possibility.
By 69 percent to 24 percent, seniors oppose an effort to shift most Medicare recipients into managed care plans. And, by 63 percent to 20 percent, seniors believe the new Medicare bills being considered by Congress will not do enough to help pay the cost of prescription drugs. It seems unlikely that more widespread understanding of the actual provisions in a final bill will modify that negative judgement--indeed, based on what's likely to be in that bill, that negative judgement could well be accentuated.
That could set up a perverse situation where, the more attention seniors pay to the prescription drugs bill, the worse it will be for Bush and the Republicans (not exactly what Rove and Co. had in mind). Maybe that's already happening. Gallup data show Bush's approval rating dropping 12 points among seniors in the last half of June, precisely the period when coverage of the Medicare prescription drug bills was most intense.