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Sunday, May 15, 2005

Feeding the Monkey 

SpaceWar.com (sponsored by the Rev. Moon's UPI) has a regular section called "Miltech," which reports on the various deals awarded to defense contractors; think of it as Variety for ordnance-hounds. Since we subscribe to the daily SpaceWar newsletter, we thought you might be interested to see where the Pentagon spends its money in a typical week:
Did we say a typical week? Make that a typical three days; partway through Wednesday we began to feel a bit overwhelmed and decided to stop.

We thought the above headlines might be profitably juxtaposed with another item we saw last week:
Elderly people with low incomes may lose some of their food stamps if they sign up for the new Medicare prescription drug benefit, the Bush administration said Saturday.

When Medicare begins covering drugs in January, older Americans will spend less of their own money on drugs and will therefore have more to spend on food, reducing their need for food stamps, officials said . . . .

The guide gives this example of how the new law would affect a hypothetical Medicare beneficiary, Mrs. Smith, who receives $798 a month in Social Security. She does not receive Medicaid. She now pays $147 a month for medical expenses, including $51 for three prescription drugs. Her monthly rent is $421.

Under the Medicare drug plan, Mrs. Smith will not have to pay a monthly premium or a deductible. She will have a $3 co-payment on each drug, for $9 a month. Her medical spending will decline to $105 a month, from $147, for a saving of $42.

But Mrs. Smith's monthly food stamp allotment, $27, will be reduced to $10 a month, because her "out-of-pocket medical costs have gone down." The administration says she will come out ahead because "she still has $25 more cash in her pocket - $42 medical savings, less the $17 decrease in food stamps."
Last year, of course, the administration swore that Medicare law would prohibit any such scenario. "New benefits . . . cannot take away any existing federal benefits," Medicare chief Mark McClellan told Congress. But that was back in June of 2004, and now, unfortunately, we really need Mrs. Smith's $17.00 (note headlines above).

Yes, we know: we are not original thinkers. We have never claimed to be. But still.

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