Daily Archives: March 13, 2004

The Truth Can Be Dangerous If You Work For the Bush Administration

Tony Pugh of Knight-Ridder reports that Richard Foster, the BA’s top expert on Medicare costs, was told he’d be fired if he revealed the actual price of the drug benefit.

When the House of Representatives passed the controversial benefit by five votes last November, the White House was embracing an estimate by the Congressional Budget Office that it would cost $395 billion in the first 10 years. But for months the administration’s own analysts in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had concluded repeatedly that the drug benefit could cost upward of $100 billion more than that.Withholding the higher cost projections was important because the White House was facing a revolt from 13 conservative House Republicans who’d vowed to vote against the Medicare drug bill if it cost more than $400 billion.

Rep. Sue Myrick of North Carolina, one of the 13 Republicans, said she was “very upset” when she learned of the higher estimate.

“I think a lot of people probably would have reconsidered (voting for the bill) because we said that $400 billion was our top of the line,” Myrick said.

Five months before the November House vote, the government’s chief Medicare actuary had estimated that a similar plan the Senate was considering would cost $551 billion over 10 years. Two months after Congress approved the new benefit, White House Budget Director Joshua Bolten disclosed that he expected it to cost $534 billion. (emphasis added)

So not only did the BA knowingly lie about the cost, they threatened to fire anyone who knew what the real cost was and said so publicly. This, campers, is what is known in legal parlance as a “cover-up”. It’s also intimidation. But here’s the horror: there’s nothing new about this. It’s SOP for the BA. The Center for American Progress has been keeping track of such cases, and the list is intriguing.

***Larry Lindsey, WH budget advisor, was fired when he said the Second Gulf War would cost $200B. After a year, and no end in sight, we are at over $100B and climbing.

***When Gen Anthony Zinni (see Kiatkowski’s Salon article; scroll down to “The New Pentagon Papers”), who was Junior’s Mid-East negotiator at the time, said the Second Gulf War would take longer and be harder to resolve than Rumsfeld’s rosy scenario would lead one to believe, he was dropped from the team.

***If you’re wondering where that anonymous soldier quoted in Intervention Magazine (scroll down to “American Soldiers Refused Thanksgiving Dinner…”) got the idea that military freedom of speech was only allowed to Bush supporters, here’s where: Gen John Abizaid, Bush-appointed commander of the forces in Iraq. Gen Abizaid declared, “None of us that wear this uniform are free to say anything disparaging about the secretary of defense, or the president of the United States. Whatever action may be taken, whether it’s a verbal reprimand or something more stringent, is up to the commanders on the scene.” (emphasis added) Here’s a guy who’s trying to shut the whole damn Army up. Free speech and turkey dinners for Bush supporters, reprimands or the brig for Bush opponents.

***When ABC News reporter Jeffrey Kofman put soldiers in Iraq on the air talking about how the equipment the BA had promised (boots, night-vison goggles, flak-jackets, etc) never arrived and that they had to buy their own and weren’t too thrilled about it, somebody from Rove’s WH Communications Dept tipped Matt Drudge that Kofman was gay.

***When Junior got nailed after the SOTU for claiming that the CIA told him that Saddam was trying to buy nukes when what they had actually said was that there wasn’t any evidence to support that supposition, Bush and Condi Rice promptly blamed CIA “intelligence failures” for their cooked conclusions, and off-the-record “administration sources” started talking about firing Tenet or forcing his resignation.

***And of course we all know what happened to Joe Wilson when he said he had told the Admin weeks before they used them to justify the war that the Niger documents were forgeries–and obvious forgeries at that: somebody in the BA (the investigation is centering on Scooter Libby and John Hannah in Veep Cheney’s office) outed his covert-op wife to Bob Novak, blowing her cover and causing her to be removed from her assignment–tracking WMD’s.

It’s an impressive list: a former ambassador, a couple of Generals, the entire CIA, the entire occupation Army in Iraq, and two top-level advisors. And these are just the ones we know about. The FBI investigation of the Plame leak is picking up stories about how frightened everyone in the WH was of Rove, some reporters who complained that WH restrictions in press conferences were leading to scripted sessions were reprimanded or removed from the Washington beat when Dan Bartlett denied their press credentials, CIA analysts said that Cheney’s frequent visits to berate them for not going along with the bogus information Chalabi was “supplying” (read: “inventing”) convinced them to keep their mouths shut, and so on.

There’s a pattern here. Recognize it? If you don’t, then you’ve likely never worked in a big corporation because it’s SOP for corporate execs. Disagree with the Boss and suddenly you’re posted to the Outer Aleutians. Point out an obvious fallacy or weakness in the Boss’ plan and shortly after that find you’re branded as “negative” and “not a team player” and all your assignments are going to somebody who said in that same meeting that he thought the Boss was a genius. Talk to the press without permission and the next day you’re shit-canned no matter how positive what you said was. I personally know of the case of a man who was ordered to talk to the press at a press party arranged by his company and still got fired because he talked to a reporter who wasn’t on the company’s list–a list he didn’t know existed because no one had ever shown it to him. And this despite the fact that everything he said to her was stuff he had been saying all day.

Get the picture? This is what comes of taking inexperienced corporate honchos who don’t believe that anything they say or do should ever be questioned by anyone and putting them in positions of power in govt where questionable policies need to be questioned: they just can’t stand it. They freak when they aren’t obeyed instantly. They want to exact the kind of revenge they’ve always been able to exact on subordinates at home. They throw hissy-fits and toss threats around like Christmas cookies.

Corporate executives don’t believe they should be accountable to anyone, least of all their subordinates or customers (you should hear what these guys say to each other in private about what stupid, annoying, pains-in-the-ass their customers are; it would be an education). So let this be a lesson to us:

NO MORE CORPORATE CEO’S IN GOVERNMENT. PERIOD. Really, they’re not worth the aggrevation they cause.

Teddy Steps Out

Sens Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd are the last Great Liberal Senators (capitalize and say it with Pride!) we’ve got. Up to now, Byrd has been the orator, Kennedy the workhorse, banging away at procedure and leading the charge to keep extremist right-wing wackos off the Federal bench. But on March 1, Kennedy crossed over into Byrd territory and delivered a passionate, watershed speech that puts the liberal/progressive scorecard right out there where everybody can see it. It’s about time somebody said we did OK.

For much of the past century, American policy has been driven by a broad-based national commitment to expanding economic opportunity and enlarging the circle of those who share in the country’s prosperity. There was a widely held understanding that government had an indispensable role in preventing abuses of private economic power and opening the door to economic progress for more Americans.It began in the Progressive Era, when the federal government first challenged the robber barons, setting limits on the concentration of economic power, and establishing minimum standards to protect industrial workers and consumers.

It came of age in the New Deal, fashioning a new social contract setting forth government’s responsibility for the economic well-being of its citizens – helping to create an economic climate in which they could prosper, and providing a safety net in times of adversity.

It flourished in the post-war era exemplified by the GI Bill. Government programs made it possible for millions of veterans to enter the middle class – helping them obtain an education and purchase a home.

It took on new dimensions in the New Frontier and Great Society, seeking to lift up those trapped in a harsh underclass by prejudice and intractable poverty. Civil rights laws removed legal obstacles, and the war on poverty sought to break down economic barriers.

This national commitment to expanding opportunity produced extraordinary results. It transformed America – moving generations of low-wage workers, immigrants, and subsistence farmers into the middle-class, where stable jobs enabled parents to build a better life for their children.

CUNY (the City University of New York) has the whole thing on its website. Go read it. It’ll make your day.

(Thanx to No Fear of Freedom)