Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Wrong Rx - Again

The Times half apologized the other day for having endorsed the Bush bill on Medicare last fall. It said it figured Congress would mend some of its shortcomings by now --  and it looks like that ain’t gonna happen. That’s a mistake the Times has made often before -- pushing dangerous legislation with predictions that it would be fixed. You’d think it would have learned by now - but no, this editorial repeated one of the crudest sins in my book -- My Times: A Memoir of Dissent.

It has to do with the catastrophic Medicare bill, which Congress passed by an overwhelming vote during in the Reagan administration. A catastrophe indeed, it zapped the elderly alone to pay for catastrophic illness, and included a stiff surtax on people over 65. The newspaper of record got it all bass ackwards, and the rest of the media followed. But when the new program took its first bite into social security, millions of people learned that they’d be worse off than before. There was a grass roots rebellion, and the law was repealed.

But history as misreported by the Times is often stronger than the truth. This new editorial repeats a myth from that disgraceful year A bunch of rich ladies were supposed to have tried to tip over the car of Rusty Rostenkowski, the Democratic boss of the House. Rusty was the only witness, but the story sure had legs. The editorial did not mention that Rusty later went to jail as a crook. He was a hero to the Times in those days, and in this tale he still is.

I remember calling for corrections at the time, and at least once I got one. I now repeat that. But I’m not holding my breath.