From the AP:
WASHINGTON – President Bush’s new budget projects the Medicare overhaul he just signed will be one-third more costly than estimated and this year’s federal deficit will surge past a half trillion dollars for the first time, administration and congressional officials said Thursday.
The White House will estimate the cost of creating prescription drug benefits and revamping the mammoth health care program for the elderly and disabled at $534 billion for the decade that ends in 2013, the officials said. The number will be in the 2005 budget Bush proposes Monday.
While muscling the Medicare package through Congress in November, Bush and Republican leaders won pivotal votes by reassuring conservatives that the cost over that period would track the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of $395 billion. The measure passed both chambers narrowly, giving the president one of his top legislative triumphs since taking office.
The new figures represent the first time the White House has released its projections of the bill’s costs. They could deepen an election-year wedge between the White House and conservative Republicans upset over spending and budget deficits that they say have grown too high on Bush’s watch.
The numbers raise questions about whether administration officials revealed everything they knew before the vote on Medicare, some conservatives complained privately. Bush signed the bill Dec. 8.
What bothers me even more than the nation’s highest ever deficit is not that it comes only 2 years after the nation’s highest ever surplus. No, it’s that the increases in spending for prescription drugs and other items mean that Bush is shoveling all this tax money as fast as he can into the coffers of major drug companies. Isn’t it telling that his prescription drug plan uses our taxes to pay for drugs, and yet no one ever demanded that the drug companies lower their inflated prices? Think about it carefully and logically. Cut taxes on the wealthiest people, then put in place tax credits and subsidies so that poor Americans buy their drugs, thus funneling tax money to those wealthy people.