NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Subverting Conservatism to Aid Business

February 11, 2004

The conservative and business positions are not always one and the same. In fact, sometimes, they are even at odds, says Bruce Bartlett.

The recently enacted Medicare drug benefit, which the Bush Administration rammed through Congress with unprecedented pressure, is the worst example of subverting conservatism to aid business, explains Bartlett.

  • This legislation will cost trillions of dollars because it applies to all elderly, including those who already have drug coverage from their employers or private insurance; it would have cost a fraction as much to aid only those without drug coverage.
  • The incredibly more expensive option was chosen exclusively to benefit big businesses; the universal option justified the inclusion of large business subsidies in the legislation to keep companies from simply dropping their retiree drug coverage and dumping it all on taxpayers.
  • A Feb. 3, 2004, report in the Wall Street Journal notes that Delphi, an auto parts manufacturer, expects to reduce its future retiree health care costs by $500 million due to the drug legislation, and it has only 14,000 retirees and dependents to cover.
  • Much bigger companies like General Motors and Lucent Technologies will save vastly more; the former has 440,000 retirees and dependents to cover and the latter has 240,000.

Bartlett believes that when the federal government starts mailing checks for tens of millions of dollars to big corporations to subsidize them for keeping health coverage they have already promised their retirees, it will spark a massive outcry.

Source: Bruce Bartlett, "Subverting Conservatism to Aid Business," National Center for Policy Analysis, February 11, 2004.


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