"The public must be put in its place, so that it may exercise its own powers, but no less and perhaps even more, so that each of us may live free of the trampling and the roar of a bewildered herd." ~ Walter Lippmann
Allegations Hound the Administration
Generally accepted wisdom tends to support the conclusion that if the words 'politician' and 'liar' aren't synonymous, then they sure are close cousins--etymologically speaking, of course. With that said, it still comes as a modest shock when a politician and his entourage try to perpetrate mass fraud. We saw it with Clinton and company. And now we're seeing it again with Bush and his band of appointed lackeys. By the way, if you were thinking tongue-across-the-terminals-of-a-9-volt-battery shock, you went way too far.
Mass fraud occurs when lying has been taken to a new level. Instead of lying merely about inconsequential matters like the reasons for unleashing the dogs of war, an activity that has been going on for years, this type of deceit goes much farther. It becomes the entrenched method of operation in all circumstances. It even extends into the realm of new welfare proposals!
It's true. Administration officials lied about how much looting would be required to provide a new Medicare prescription drug (so-called) benefit. But, like gas escaping from a prick in a hot air balloon, the truth is beginning to seep out.
The prick this time is Richard Foster. He is the chief actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, an agency that may have changed its name but still retains its lack of sympathy for those paying the bills, and he contends that the real prick is the agency's former administrator, a man who allegedly engaged in Scullyduggery.
Foster claims that his then boss, Thomas Scully, wanted only to release 'estimates that were supportive of the [drug] legislation.' In other words, he wanted Foster to be his lap dog. Scully even took it to the point of issuing commands that Foster 'not to respond to [Congressional] requests [for information],' sit in his office, stay away from the media, and fetch his morning paper when given the appropriate hand signal . . . or else the frisky Foster would be muzzled. This meant that the chief actuary's estimate, which came in at least $100 billion over the official $395 billion price tag, never saw the light of day.
Members of Congress, such as fiscal watchdog Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Tom Daschle (D-SD) were naturally flabbergasted to learn that unfavorable cost estimates could have been withheld from them. However, the plight of taxpayers must not have been too much of a concern because reports indicate the 'leaders in the House and Senate called for investigations into the alleged muzzling.'
Normally, one would expect howls of protest or a Wag the Dog terror warning from the White House. But thus far the allegations seem to have bred little more than contempt. Perhaps the crew residing at Pennsylvania Avenue is too spent from propping up WMD whoppers.
The casual threat giver has been incommunicado, too. Not a whimper has been heard directly from Scully since an interview in which he claimed Foster's accusations were false. He also stressed in the interview that the public must look beyond his lies and rest assured that the truth is out there.
Whether this bone has enough meat on it to pursue a criminal investigation is doubtful. It'd be lucky to fetch another vote on the drug giveaway. Nevertheless, it shows that more and more administration staffers and analysts are tired of being muzzled. They are tired of having their analytical assessments effectively neutered. And they are more than willing to participate in burning Bush. In other words, it will be a miracle if something doesn't tarnish that blue blood pedigree of his eventually.
Over and above the implicit coercion upon which all laws rest, how many other pieces of legislation have been supported by mass fraud? Most? We may never know. As for this instance, Sen. Daschle's motives may be crass, but he happens to be right. If this wasn't 'criminal, it was certainly unethical. And I think we need to know the facts.'