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After Pushing for Big Drug Entitlement, Cost Now Upsets Networks --2/10/2005


1. After Pushing for Big Drug Entitlement, Cost Now Upsets Networks
After spending two years pushing for the creation of prescription drug entitlement programs by employing emotional anecdotes about the plight of seniors, and then complaining that the GOP/Bush plan didn't go far enough, the hypocritical networks on Wednesday night led by expressing shock and outrage over how the price tag for the entitlement has soared. "It's going to cost you, the taxpayers, a whole lot more than you were told" for "the controversial new Medicare prescription drug plan," Dan Rather scolded on CBS. ABC's Peter Jennings rued "a multibillion-dollar monkey wrench that the White House had not talked about publicly." Terry Moran relayed how "Democrats say those trillions for Social Security, plus the President's trillion-dollar demand that his tax cuts be made permanent, plus the skyrocketing Medicare cost, plus the war, all add up to fiscal insanity." On NBC, Brian Williams announced that "all of Washington is suffering from sticker shock" over the new estimate of the prescription cost.

2. NBC Highlights Conservatives Disturbed by Bush's Big Spending
NBC on Wednesday night actually took on the Bush administration from the right. Prompted by the prescription entitlement cost estimate (see item #1 above), NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams teased: "Is the size of government getting out of control?" Williams soon referred to "the burgeoning cost of government" and asked: "What does all of this say about the normally fiscally tight Republican Party?" David Gregory outlined how "many conservative Republicans, the champions of small, limited federal government, and the President's base, argue Mr. Bush is not following his own advice." Gregory recited some of Bush's "big spending" programs: "The creation of the Homeland Security Department, the farm bill of 2002 which conservatives considered a runaway train, more money for education..." Gregory also raised how "this White House has made government more involved in people's lives."

3. WashPost Sees Deep Cuts and Bigger Government in Bush's Budget
Which way is it? A front page story in Tuesday's Washington Post reported that while President Bush's proposed budget would pump "more money into the Pentagon and foreign aid programs," it "would slash funding for a broad array of other government services as part of the deepest domestic reductions proposed since the Reagan era." But on Wednesday, the Post ran a front page story headlined: "Blueprint Calls for Bigger, More Powerful Government." The Post warned: "President Bush's second-term agenda would expand not only the size of the federal government but also its influence over the lives of millions of Americans..."


After Pushing for Big Drug Entitlement,
Cost Now Upsets Networks

CBS Evening News: Double the Cost After spending two years pushing for the creation of prescription drug entitlement programs by employing emotional anecdotes about the plight of seniors, and then complaining that the GOP/Bush plan didn't go far enough, the hypocritical networks on Wednesday night led by expressing shock and outrage over how the price tag for the entitlement has soared. "It's going to cost you, the taxpayers, a whole lot more than you were told" for "the controversial new Medicare prescription drug plan," Dan Rather scolded on CBS. ABC's Peter Jennings rued "a multibillion-dollar monkey wrench that the White House had not talked about publicly." Terry Moran relayed how "Democrats say those trillions for Social Security, plus the President's trillion-dollar demand that his tax cuts be made permanent, plus the skyrocketing Medicare cost, plus the war, all add up to fiscal insanity." On NBC, Brian Williams announced that "all of Washington is suffering from sticker shock" over the new estimate of the prescription cost.

But NBC also showed some concern about the size of government as Brian Williams noted that the new estimate "has a lot of people worried about the galloping cost of governing America." Unlike ABC and CBS, NBC allowed an "I told you so" from conservatives as Chip Reid pointed out how "the latest estimate has conservative Republicans who opposed the drug bill as too expensive saying, 'I told you so.'" (In a second story, NBC's David Gregory looked at how conservatives are disappointed by the Bush administration's big government policies. See item #2 below for more about that.)

CBS's John Roberts used the burgeoning Medicare prescription entitlement cost estimate as an excuse to take a shot at Bush's Social Security reform plan: "Where this could hurt President Bush is in his bid to sell Social Security reform, raising new suspicions about what the real cost of private accounts will be."

The Wednesday night network obsession was spurred by front page Washington Post and New York Times headlines that morning. "Medicare Drug Benefit May Cost $1.2 Trillion: Estimate Dwarfs Bush's Original Price Tag," declared the Washington Post headline. The New York Times headline announced: "New White House Estimate Lifts Drug Benefit Cost to $720 Billion."

Both newspaper stories, as well as the network ones, eventually got around to explaining that the larger estimate number was caused by a shift in the ten-year period being estimated -- from starting in 2004 to starting in 2006 when the prescription coverage payouts actually begin.

In 2002 and 2003, before the passage of the prescription entitlement program, the networks campaigned for the largest possible spending regime. Dan Rather at one point bemoaned "the badly fading chances that President Bush and Congress will deliver on their promises and give any kind of help to seniors." While each party blames the other, Bob Schieffer charged: Seniors "just get the shaft."

"No deal on drugs. The last hope for a Medicare prescription benefit goes down to defeat in the Senate," NBC's Tom Brokaw lamented one night. In the subsequent story an elderly women, who has given up bingo, charged: "This is an issue of life and death." ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas ominously warned: "Prescription drugs. The Senate kills a plan to help senior citizens afford them. Americans are putting their lives at risk to save money on medicine."

A rundown of some CyberAlert items recounting the media's big government agenda on this issue, with links to the full CyberAlert articles:

-- CBS Pushed Prescription Entitlement
After marking progress toward one liberal goal, with Senate passage of a bill creating the right to sue HMOs, the CBS Evening News moved on to another. Diana Olick used an anecdotal victim to promote the Democratic vision of a new entitlement program for prescription drugs: "President Bush backs a plan that would target only the poorest and that leaves out middle income patients like Eva Baer-Schenkein." www.mediaresearch.org

-- CBS: Seniors "Just Get the Shaft"
CBS and ABC lamented the failure of the Senate to pass a huge new entitlement program for prescription drugs. Dan Rather bemoaned "the badly fading chances that President Bush and Congress will deliver on their promises and give any kind of help to seniors." While each party blames the other, Schieffer charged: Seniors "just get the shaft." ABC's Charles Gibson pleaded: "Can they come up with a compromise before this coming election?" www.mediaresearch.org

-- No Prescription Drug Plan = Death for Seniors
A new prescription drug entitlement program or death. "No deal on drugs. The last hope for a Medicare prescription benefit goes down to defeat in the Senate," NBC's Tom Brokaw lamented. In the subsequent story an elderly women, who has given up bingo, charged: "This is an issue of life and death." ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas ominously warned: "Prescription drugs. The Senate kills a plan to help senior citizens afford them. Americans are putting their lives at risk to save money on medicine." www.mediaresearch.org

-- CNN's Kagan Scolded the Senate for Not Creating New Entitlement: "Shame on Them"
"Shame on all of them," CNN anchor Daryn Kagan declared Wednesday morning in scolding the Senate for not making taxpayers pay for prescription drugs. She kvetched: "I know we have a lot of viewers at home, a lot of older people who their simple, simple request is just to be able to afford the drugs that they need." And FNC identified "older Americans" as the "victim." www.mediaresearch.org

-- Ruing "Delay" in New Prescription Drug Entitlement
The media push for more and bigger government. Joie Chen wrapped up a January 29 CBS Evening News story by lamenting "yet another delay for seniors in need of prescription drug care." After recounting how President Bush's proposal is opposed by key Republicans, which Democrats don't like either, and the Bush administration has yet to even submit an actual plan for consideration, Chen concluded: "What happened is that members of Mr. Bush's own party, including the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, made it clear they couldn't back this plan. So now it's back to the drawing board and yet another delay for seniors in need of prescription drug care." www.mediaresearch.org

-- Nets Celebrate Congress "Finally" Agreeing to Prescription Plan
Every time the tax cut debate arose over the past couple of years network anchors and reporters were most concerned about the high "cost" of any tax cut, who would most benefit and who would not -- see item #1 above for proof of the media's obsessive interest in who was supposedly left out of the latest tax cut. But with talk this week of a bi-partisan compromise agreement to create a new entitlement program in Medicare for prescription drugs, the networks have not displayed any interest in outlining who pays (those at lower incomes still working) and who benefits (the elderly, the wealthiest age group), and when they mention the cost it's not in the context of a big price tag, but in how it's not high enough, as network reporters campaign in favor of Congress "finally" creating the new service which will give "new hope" and "badly needed help" to struggling seniors.
ABC's Linda Douglass complained that "Senators voted earlier this year to limit the cost of any plan to $400 billion over 10 years. So the Senate plan has limits." Wednesday morning on Today, Campbell Brown also stressed how it's an inadequate amount: "The cost of the plan, $400 billion. But advocates for seniors, like the powerful American Association for Retired Persons, say it's still not enough."
Back on May 21, CBS's Dan Rather insisted upon referring to the compromise $350 billion over ten years tax cut as "President Bush's big tax cut plan," but on Tuesday night he didn't mention the cost of the prescription plan or refer to it as big, though at $400 billion over ten years it will cost more than the tax cut and, since it will not end in ten years, much more beyond that. Instead, Rather portrayed it as long overdue:
"In Washington today, for the umpteenth time, there's talk of a possible compromise deal to provide at least some prescription drug coverage for people on Medicare. CBS's Joie Chen reports what's different this time as millions of older Americans wait for action." www.mediaresearch.org

-- Prescription Drug Entitlement Spending Doesn't Go "Far Enough"
Though, as news reader Ann Curry conceded on Monday's Today, "the Senate begins debate today on what would be the biggest expansion of Medicare benefits in its history," it's still doesn't go far enough as she added: "Critics say the drug benefit isn't enough." In the media's world, there just isn't anyone who could possibly oppose creating a massive new government entitlement program. Over on ABC's Good Morning America, Tony Perkins had only one substantive complaint for HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson: "Some have said this bill doesn't go quite far enough." www.mediaresearch.org

-- Two Years Apart CBS & ABC Feature Same Woman as Drug Cost Victim
What a coincidence. Two years apart CBS News and ABC News featured the same elderly woman, in news stories about the need for a new prescription drug coverage program in Medicare and the shortcomings of Republican-pushed alternatives, as the poster victim of high prescription costs. But CBS and ABC didn't agree on her ailment. CBS's Diana Olick complained in 2001: "President Bush backs a plan that would target only the poorest and that leaves out middle income patients like Eva Baer-Schenkein." Baer-Schenkein asserted: "So now I'm not taking anything at all for my osteoporosis."
Two years later, ABC's Linda Douglass worried about how "71-year old Eva Baer-Schenkein suffers from hypertension and other health problems. She cannot afford the cost of her prescription drugs and is tired of waiting for Congress to help her." www.mediaresearch.org

-- CBS Wails: "With Only $400 Billion to Spend"; NBC Rues Tax Cut
"With only $400 billion to spend." Not even $400 billion is enough spending for CBS and NBC which on Monday and Tuesday night ran stories lamenting the inadequate level of spending proposed to create a prescription drug entitlement. Dan Rather warned: "The plan may wind up falling far short of what Medicare recipients were hoping for." Joie Chen found a victim of "the donut hole. That's the point at which there's no coverage." And why the donut hole? "Well, with only $400 billion to spend, there just isn't enough money to fix it..." NBC's Norah O'Donnell focused on how "the AARP argues the plan...will short-change seniors." She targeted the tax cut as the culprit: "Some Democrats charge the recent tax cuts killed off any hope of closing the benefit gap." www.mediaresearch.org

-- ABC, NBC, NY Times & Wash Post All Find Unsatisfied Seniors
ABC, NBC, the New York Times and Washington Post on Thursday delivered another round of complaints that the proposed new Medicare prescription benefit doesn't go far enough. ABC's Linda Douglass decided that "many will be disappointed" since "many seniors will be surprised to learn how much they will still have to pay out of pocket." On Today, Matt Lauer grilled Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist from the left, pressing him about "this donut hole in coverage." Lauer demanded: "If I'm a senior and I'm paying my, my monthly premium why should I have to then fork over all the money during that, that gap period?" Front page New York Times and Washington Post stories relayed whining from selfish and ungrateful seniors who want others to pay their expenses. www.mediaresearch.org

-- NBC's Drug Price Victim Really a Lobbying Group's Operative
More evidence that the supposedly typical victims of high prescription costs featured by the networks are hardly average seniors. They are really political activists who are part of a political lobbying campaign by a liberal group, the AARP, which consistently pushes for ever bigger government and more spending. NBC's Norah O'Donnell asserted: "The AARP argues the plan in Congress, backed by President Bush, will short-change seniors." O'Donnell highlighted this victim: "77-year-old Pat Roussos of Connecticut, who suffers from arthritis, diabetes and high blood pressure. Her out-of-pocket drug costs now, as much as $6,500 a year." But, Roussos is really a top dog in an AARP state chapter. www.mediaresearch.org

-- More Whining About Prescription Plan Not Going Far Enough
On Saturday night ABC delivered another one-sided whine-fest of complaints, from the left, about how the massive new proposed prescription drug plan for seniors doesn't go far enough. ABC failed to utter a syllable from anyone opposed to creating the huge new entitlement program. "Many seniors doubt the help will be enough," anchor Dean Reynolds intoned on the June 28 World News Tonight/Saturday. Bob Jamieson proceeded to relay how seniors "expected more help" and that "there's also disappointment." Jamieson warned that at a senior center in Illinois, "there's the first stirring of anger toward the politicians." A woman ludicrously claimed: "When you reach a certain age, they just forget about you." www.mediaresearch.org

-- "Finally" a Prescription Drug Plan, But Rather Sees GOP in Way
Dan Rather on Thursday night painted awful Republicans and insurance company lobbyists as undermining the efforts of Congress to "finally" add prescription coverage to Medicare. Rather teased: "The long-awaited Medicare prescription drug benefit. Does Congress finally have a plan, or will insurance company lobbying and other politics kill it?" Rather set up the subsequent story by blaming only one side for any delay: "Millions of older Americans waiting for prescription drug coverage under Medicare may soon be in for either a pleasant surprise or a rude shock. While congressional negotiators have agreed on the outlines of a drug coverage plan, Democrats accuse Republicans of seeking to steer seniors out of Medicare and into private insurance company plans." www.mediaresearch.org

-- CBS Wails: "With Only $400 Billion to Spend"; NBC Rues Tax Cut
"With only $400 billion to spend." Not even $400 billion is enough spending for CBS and NBC which on Monday and Tuesday night ran stories lamenting the inadequate level of spending proposed to create a prescription drug entitlement. Dan Rather warned: "The plan may wind up falling far short of what Medicare recipients were hoping for." Joie Chen found a victim of "the donut hole. That's the point at which there's no coverage." And why the donut hole? "Well, with only $400 billion to spend, there just isn't enough money to fix it..." NBC's Norah O'Donnell focused on how "the AARP argues the plan...will short-change seniors." She targeted the tax cut as the culprit: "Some Democrats charge the recent tax cuts killed off any hope of closing the benefit gap." www.mediaresearch.org


Now, Wednesday night, February 9, coverage on the broadcast networks as corrected against the closed-captioning by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth:

-- Peter Jennings teased: "On World News Tonight, prescription drug coverage, the war in Iraq and the President's plan for Social Security. Where is the money coming from?"

Jennings opened his broadcast: "Good evening, everyone. We're going to begin tonight with the vast amounts of money now involved in the debate about the President's future policies. The political battle has just begun about the federal budget. And today, there is a multibillion-dollar monkey wrench that the White House had not talked about publicly. It comes in the form of a new estimate from the administration itself at what it will cost to provide prescription drug coverage for people on Medicare. When the bill was passed, the number was about $400 billion. Now, it seems to be $720 billion. It's a very large difference, especially in the context of all other things that Mr. Bush wants money for. So we go to our White House correspondent first, ABC's Terry Moran."

Moran began: "President Bush acknowledged the looming fiscal problems in the two biggest government problems."
George W. Bush in Oval Office: "The same issue that deals with, creates a problem for Social Security, creates a problem for Medicare. In other words, baby boomers are retiring and with fewer payers going into the system. I look forward to working with-"
Moran countered: "But the funding problems in Medicare dwarf Social Security's problems, and the prescription drug benefit deepens the red ink. The new $723 billion price tag for prescription drugs stems from the administration's new projection of the cost through 2015, as the program starts to really kick in."
Mark McClellan, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services: "We're now looking further into the future. And further into the future, we're expecting more Medicare beneficiaries to use the drug benefit to get more savings on their drug costs."
Moran: "On Capitol Hill, among Democrats and Republicans, there was sticker shock."
Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME): "Clearly, those are the estimates we did not receive. I mean, we received $400 billion estimates."
Moran: "Democrats went further, accusing the President of deliberately hiding the true costs of the program. And they suggested the administration was doing the same thing with Mr. Bush's plan for Social Security."
Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND), at hearing: "Because there's a pattern here. There's a pattern of concealing, I think, the true fiscal condition of the country, from Congress and from the American people."
Moran: "But last weekend, in a moment of fiscal candor, Vice President Cheney put a price tag on the Social Security plan."
Dick Cheney on Fox News Sunday: "We're going to borrow $758 million over the next ten years to set up the personal retirement accounts. We think that's a manageable amount."
Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace: "And trillions more after."
Cheney: "That's right. Trillions more after that."
Bush Budget: Democrats Claim Moran, over a matching graphic: "Democrats say those trillions for Social Security, plus the President's trillion-dollar demand that his tax cuts be made permanent, plus the skyrocketing Medicare cost, plus the war, all add up to fiscal insanity."
Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX), at hearing: "I think their promise that this Social Security privatization plan is going to help seniors, unfortunately, will be about as realistic as their promise that we can fight a war on terrorism, pass massive tax cuts and balance the budget."
Moran concluded: "Well, the White House still insists the President will keep his promise to cut the deficit in half by the end of his term. Mr. Bush ran for office in 2000 as a fiscal conservative. But now, most experts say he is presiding over an era of huge structural deficits. And, Peter, they are increasing on his watch."
Jennings: "Indeed, Terry. Many thanks. Terry Moran at the White House."

Jennings then turned to Linda Douglass on Capitol Hill: "It is a little hard for people to keep up with the numbers, but the new estimate from the White House on the cost of a Medicare prescription drug benefit has Democrats and some Republicans in Congress asking whether perhaps they should take another look at the law which created the benefit. ABC's Linda Douglass is on Capitol Hill. Linda, break this down for us, if you would, into three categories -- Democrats, their reaction; liberal Republicans; and conservative Republicans."
Douglass: "Well, the Democrats are saying, and as they've been saying all along, is they want to open up the Medicare bill and try to drive down the price of drugs, try to bring it to the drug companies, the pharmaceutical companies, and negotiate to get lower prices. They'll push for that. They don't run things around here, though. Liberal Republicans, as you mentioned, there aren't very many of those. But they do, moderate Republicans, also say it's time to actually go after the drug companies, drive the prices down. It's the conservatives where the President may have his problem because they are talking about scaling back benefits, maybe not giving the benefit to everybody. Many of them feel they were deceived in the first place. And they'd like to go back and revisit this. The leaders, though, Peter, say that's not going to happen."
Jennings: "Let me ask you this very quickly. Is this debate about prescription drugs going to have an overall impact to the President's benefit or not, on the overall budget debate?"
Douglass: "Well, it will. I mean, remember, this budget doesn't even touch Medicare. Democrats are going to accuse the President of fuzzy math, and conservatives are going to say he didn't cut the budget enough, Peter."


-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather teased: "Tonight: Medicare drug coverage. It's not even in full effect yet, and now the price tag has nearly doubled. What's going on?"

Rather led his newscast: "Good evening. It's going to cost you, the taxpayers, a whole lot more than you were told, the controversial new Medicare prescription drug plan. At a time when the government is in ever-deepening debt, President Bush is again raising the estimated price tag for this new benefit by hundreds of billions of dollars. This brought new criticism in Congress from Democrats and Republicans, but the President insists his Medicare drug plan will still save money by treating illnesses early. CBS's John Roberts has the Medicare prognosis."

Roberts: "It was another huge case of sticker shock today when the White House disclosed the President's prescription drug plan would cost $723 billion in its first ten years, nearly double the $400 billion price tag Congress bought into. President Bush today was standing by his plan."
George W. Bush, in Oval Office: "And I look forward to watching those reforms take effect. I'm convinced they'll have cost savings for our society, and I know it will make the life of our seniors better."
Roberts: "But how did the price tag rise so much? For starters, the original $400 billion projection was an intentional lowball. In fact, at that time, Medicare's chief actuary was warned of 'extremely severe' consequences if he divulged the real cost to Congress. The White House later upped the figure to $534 billion, but in the first two years of that estimate, the program wouldn't actually be paying for drugs. This new projection, $723 billion, reflects ten years of full coverage when baby boomer retirement may push drug costs to $100 billion a year. The White House today insisted there was no attempt to mislead Congress."
Dr. Mark McClellan, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services: "Our estimates of the cost of the Medicare prescription drug benefit are the same as they were before. Now we're into 2005, and so we're looking further into the future."
Roberts: "But Democrats today called it a classic bait and switch. They want to reopen the bill and change it to allow Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices. Even some Republicans who'd worried about the financial burden of an enormous new entitlement were stunned."
Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME): "We received $400 billion estimates. So now what is driving these issues we have to know."
Roberts concluded with a shot at Bush's Social Security plan: "It would be politically perilous for Republicans to try to roll back the prescription drug plan, but where this could hurt President Bush is in his bid to sell Social Security reform, raising new suspicions about what the real cost of private accounts will be."


-- NBC Nightly News. Brian Williams teased: "Expensive prescription: New budget figures show the Medicare prescription drug benefit will cost far more than the Bush administration suggested."

Williams led: "Good evening. It was big news for a lot of America's seniors back when Congress approved and the President then signed into law the new Medicare prescription drug benefit. And while it's common sense that if it saves consumers money, that money has to come from somewhere, we didn't know until today just how much it would all cost. Well, tonight, all of Washington is suffering from sticker shock as the Bush administration has now come out with that cost. It is way up from first estimates and still growing. And it has a lot of people worried about the galloping cost of governing America. We will begin here tonight on Capitol Hill with NBC's Chip Reid."

Reid: "The full Medicare prescription drug benefit kicks in next year, and when seniors start cashing in, no one doubts it will be expensive. But the Bush administration's new estimate, $720 billion over the first 10 years, had jaws dropping today in Washington."
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), on the Senate floor: "The costs of this program go up almost daily. It started at $400 billion and then it went to $500 billion, now we're at $720 billion, and we're still counting."
Reid: "As Senator Wyden suggests, this is not the first time the cost of the prescription drug bill has caused a furor. In late 2003, when the House passed it on a close vote, many Republicans voted yes only after being assured it would cost no more than $400 billion in the first 10 years. Just two months later, the Bush administration announced a new estimate, $534 billion. The story became a minor scandal when a Medicare official testified that his job had been threatened if he told Congress the true cost before it voted. Now the latest estimate has conservative Republicans who opposed the drug bill as too expensive saying, 'I told you so.'"
Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ): "I think those who ought to be disgusted about this are our kids and our grandkids because they're the ones that are really going to shoulder this burden, trillions of dollars in unfunded liabilities. They ought to be disgusted."
Reid: "But Bush administration officials insist their cost estimates have not changed. The smaller estimate was for a 10-year period that included 2004 and 2005, years when the program was just getting off the ground. The new, larger estimate is for a different ten-year period, when the drug benefit is in full operation and growing every year, and includes two big spending years not previously counted. [2014 and 2015]"
Mark McClellan, Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator: "The only thing that's changed is we're looking out farther into the future when more people are going to be using more prescription drugs."
Reid concluded: "Some Republicans here are now calling for cuts in the prescription drug bill. As one senator put it, the drug benefit hasn't even started yet, and it's already out of control. Chip Reid, NBC News, the Capitol."

NBC Highlights Conservatives Disturbed
by Bush's Big Spending

NBC's Brian Williams NBC on Wednesday night actually took on the Bush administration from the right. Prompted by the prescription entitlement cost estimate (see item #1 above), NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams teased: "Is the size of government getting out of control?" Williams soon referred to "the burgeoning cost of government" and asked: "What does all of this say about the normally fiscally tight Republican Party?" David Gregory outlined how "many conservative Republicans, the champions of small, limited federal government, and the President's base, argue Mr. Bush is not following his own advice." Gregory recited some of Bush's "big spending" programs: "The creation of the Homeland Security Department, the farm bill of 2002 which conservatives considered a runaway train, more money for education..." Gregory also raised how "this White House has made government more involved in people's lives."

NBC Nightly News Williams set up the second story on the February 9 NBC Nightly News: "Now to the burgeoning cost of government. What does all of this say about the normally fiscally tight Republican Party? From the White House tonight, here is NBC's David Gregory."

Gregory began: "Unexpected from a Democrat, but it was Bill Clinton who said it."
Bill Clinton in a State of the Union address: "The era of big government is over."
Gregory: "That was before George W. Bush came to town."
Prof. James Thurber, American University: "The Republicans are centralizing power. They're growing the bureaucracy, they're growing the budget, and they're taking rights away from the states."
Gregory: "You wouldn't have any idea the deficit is over $400 billion the way the President talks."
George W. Bush: "America's prosperity requires restraining the spending appetite of the federal government."
Gregory, over a graphic listing Bush's new high spending programs: "Many conservative Republicans, the champions of small, limited federal government, and the President's base, argue Mr. Bush is not following his own advice. And it's not just the soaring price of Medicare under this President, but other big spending -- the creation of the Homeland Security Department, the farm bill of 2002 which conservatives considered a runaway train, more money for education, and this budget's call to boost the amount of foreign aid. Conservative activists like Stephen Moore are agitated."
Stephen Moore, Club for Growth: "Well, unfortunately, even under a Republican Congress and a Republican president in George W. Bush, the federal government has expanded at a faster pace than any President since Lyndon Johnson."
Gregory: "Beyond the growth of government, this White House has made government more involved in people's lives -- intrusive, conservatives would say, something they consider taboo. The President wants a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Many conservatives support that, too, but in the process say the White House is interfering with states' rights. Or take education. The federal government now wants to extend accountability standards on local districts through high school. Again, normally the states' turf. Some argue that by making government bigger and more activist, the President has attracted new supporters, but at what cost?"
Thurber: "I think what's going to happen is the President's going to have difficulty putting his agenda through Congress if the conservatives have a rebellion, and it looks like they're going to have a rebellion."
Gregory concluded: "There is still room for redemption, some conservatives insist. The President could succeed in restructuring the tax code and Social Security, and he could veto any spending bill that gets out of hand. David Gregory, NBC News, the White House."

WashPost Sees Deep Cuts and Bigger Government in Bush's Budget

Which way is it? A front page story in Tuesday's Washington Post reported that while President Bush's proposed budget would pump "more money into the Pentagon and foreign aid programs," it "would slash funding for a broad array of other government services as part of the deepest domestic reductions proposed since the Reagan era." But on Wednesday, the Post ran a front page story headlined: "Blueprint Calls for Bigger, More Powerful Government." The Post warned: "President Bush's second-term agenda would expand not only the size of the federal government but also its influence over the lives of millions of Americans..."

The MRC's Ken Shepherd alerted me to the seeming contrast.

"President Sends '06 Budget to Congress: Programs Are Cut, But War Costs Are Not Included," read the front page February 8 article. An excerpt from the top of the story written by Peter Baker:

President Bush sent Congress a $2.57 trillion federal budget yesterday that is designed to project U.S. power and priorities overseas while squeezing government programs at home but would not make a sizable dent in the nation's record deficit next year, despite politically painful cuts.

While pumping more money into the Pentagon and foreign aid programs, the budget for the 2006 fiscal year would slash funding for a broad array of other government services as part of the deepest domestic reductions proposed since the Reagan era. In the long term, the fiscal plan envisions holding non-security discretionary spending flat for the next five years to fulfill Bush's promise to cut the deficit in half by 2009....

END of Excerpt

For the February 8 Post story in full: www.washingtonpost.com

On Wednesday, February 9, the Washington Post's front page announced: "Blueprint Calls for Bigger, More Powerful Government: Some Conservatives Express Concern at Agenda." An excerpt from the top of the piece by Jim VandeHei:

President Bush's second-term agenda would expand not only the size of the federal government but also its influence over the lives of millions of Americans by imposing new national restrictions on high schools, court cases and marriages.

In a clear break from Republican campaigns of the 1990s to downsize government and devolve power to the states, Bush is fostering what amounts to an era of new federalism in which the national government shapes, not shrinks, programs and institutions to comport with various conservative ideals, according to Republicans inside and outside the White House.

Bush is calling for new federal accountability and testing requirements for all public high schools, after imposing similar mandates on grades three through eight during his first term. To limit lawsuits against businesses and professionals, he is proposing to put a federal cap on damage awards for medical malpractice, to force class-action cases into federal courts and to help create a national settlement of outstanding asbestos-related cases.

On social policy, the president is pushing a constitutional amendment to outlaw same-sex marriage in the states and continuing to define and expand the federal government's role in encouraging religious groups to help administer social programs such as community drug-rehabilitation efforts....

END of Excerpt

For the February 9 Post story in full: www.washingtonpost.com

You'll see that the NBC News story (in item #2 above) very closely followed the Post story.


-- Brent Baker