HIGHTOWER: Bush's Compassion for Drug Giants

"We must leave no one behind," is the compassionate-conservative mantra of George W. But in his first chance to put his compassionate-conservative rhetoric into action, Bush leaves more than 3 out of 4 Americans behind.

Since drug companies are grossly gouging American consumers with astronomical prescription prices, even Congress has felt the heat of public anger and is planning to put some sort of salve on the financial pain that the drug makers are inflicting on senior citizens. The major proposal being considered is to put prescription drugs under Medicare and let the federal government bargain with the companies to get the cheapest price. This would provide needed medicines for all seniors while also stopping some of the corporate rip-off. It's simple, effective, and fair.

But President Compassionate mostly feels the pain of the big drug makers, who also happen to have been big contributors to his campaign and don't want to stop the gouging. So, he has now presented his own prescription drug plan, which makes him appear to be filled with compassion for the 37 million seniors needing medicine ... but the Bush proposal completely excludes 25 million of them! Sixty percent of these people have no insurance coverage at all for their medicines -- so they're totally left out in the cold.

Worse, Bush leaves it to the states to bargain with the drug giants on prices. Even those states that have the will to undertake this face-off mostly don't have the clout, so there'll be little drop in prices and the companies will laugh all the way to the bank. Even the National Governor's Association knows that this is a flim flam, and it opposes George W's plan to shift this responsibility to them. Another cute trick Bush plays on us is to make the administration of his plan so befuddling, burdensome, and bureaucratic that even the few who qualify won't find their way through the swamp he throws them into.

This is Jim Hightower saying ... Compassion is as compassion does. Everything else is just political rhetoric.


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