Apr 23, 2004

Shameless

AP:

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson is refusing to make public or give congressional Democrats the Bush administration’s estimates of the cost of last year’s Medicare legislation.

In a letter to Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., a senior HHS official writing on Thompson’s behalf said Democrats have no right to review administration estimates that the Medicare overhaul would cost substantially more than what President Bush and Thompson disclosed last year. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter Friday.

Thompson’s decision seems certain to re-ignite Democratic complaints that the administration concealed its higher estimates of the bill’s cost at a time when several conservative Republicans were wavering in support of the Medicare overhaul because of concerns about its price tag. The administration has rejected the accusation.

[snip]

In the letter to Waxman, D-Calif., Dennis Smith, who had been the acting Medicare administrator, said Foster’s analyses and estimates of various versions of the legislation that were prepared last year were exempt from disclosure.

Instead, HHS provided four documents which already were made public. ``In the spirit of comity, we are releasing these documents to you,’’ Smith wrote.

HHS spokesman Bill Pierce said the agency also was responding similarly to requests for the information by journalists and the public.

Waxman has threatened a lawsuit to obtain the information.

``The response is completely inadequate,’’ Waxman said in a statement. ``The Administration is stonewalling our investigation. We are evaluating our next steps.’’

Wait.  Now listen to this.  Seriously.

``We have nothing to hide, so I want to make darn sure everything comes out,’’ Thompson said in March.

To quote Deroy Murdoch of NRO:

“As for the perpetrators of this colossal public fraud, the Justice Department should fit them for orange jumpsuits.”

This really isn’t funny any more.


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