The Note: The Boy Looking for the Pony

"Large personal retirement accounts are the only economically sound, permanent solution to Social Security's solvency problem, and they don't have to be paid for by cutting future benefits, increasing taxes or raising the retirement age. So-called 'transition costs' (which seem to have spooked the Administration into preemptive concessions on the size of accounts, benefit cuts, giving consideration to tax increases and hiking the retirement age) are a chimera, today's version of the deficit ogre that Democrats and austere Republicans tried to terrify the American public with before Reagan proved them wrong."

Democratic Senators are hitting the road to make their own Social Security arguments, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid's office announced yesterday. As we reported in yesterday's Note, the first event is a 10:00 am ET barnburner on Friday, with Sens. Clinton, Schumer, Reid, Durbin, Dorgan, and Kerry at Pace University in New York City. At 2:00 pm ET that day, Sens. Reid, Durbin, and Dorgan join Gov. Ed Rendell and Reps. Chaka Fattah, Bob Brady, and Allyson Schwartz at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia.

On Saturday, Reid, Durbin, and Dorgan head for Phoenix, where they join Rep. Ed Pastor and Raul Grijalva at 1:00 pm ET. Then the Senators Three hit the bright lights of Vegas for a 5:00 pm ET event at UNLV.


The NGA meetings concluded Tuesday with no agreement on Medicaid and lots of promises to work toward one and lots of hints about shared "principles," the Washington Post's CCC and Dan Balz report. LINK

We are honestly not sure just what "principles" the governors and the Administration have agreed to, especially since the sticking points -- more Medicaid versus less, the appropriateness of certain state Medicaid decisions which trigger federal money -- seem rooted in a fundamental disagreement about the nature of the program.

Writes Robert Pear in the New York Times: LINK

"After conversations with most governors, Mr. Leavitt said he saw agreement emerging on these points: Medicaid is 'overpaying for prescription drugs.' Parents should not be able to obtain Medicaid coverage for nursing home care by voluntarily impoverishing themselves and transferring assets to their children. 'Governors should be able to charge co-payments to Medicaid recipients, based on their income, and should be able to manage care and costs by using the tools available to private insurers.' State officials should have more freedom to decide which benefits will be provided. Medicaid should recognize home and community-based care as 'a preferred alternative' to nursing homes.

"However, interviews with numerous governors suggest that the consensus described by Mr. Leavitt does not exist."

Sarah Lueck's Wall Street Journal Medicaid story is wire-y and it puts Bill Richardson in the third graph, as the voice of the party.

The Manchester Union Leader's Garry Rayno writes that Gov. John Lynch (D-NH) reported back from the governors' meeting that the federal help some in the Granite State were hoping for on Medicaid won't be forthcoming. LINK

A guy who founded the Center for Health Transformation named "Newt Gingrich" opines in the Washington Post on Medicaid: "America's Medicaid program isn't working. A 'money only' debate would be an exercise in futility and -- more tragically -- would trap the most vulnerable people in our society in a hopelessly broken system. Transforming Medicaid is a moral imperative." LINK

Bush agenda:

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