Medicare Drug Benefit Not a Republican Campaign Issue
Republican campaign efforts have "shied away" from "claiming credit" for the Medicare prescription drug benefit, despite the Bush administration viewing the program "as one of the GOP majority's signature domestic-policy accomplishments," The Hill reports. Although President Bush and congressional leaders "have urged GOP incumbents to shift the electoral debate toward matters that they say demonstrate the effectiveness of Republican-controlled government, ... few candidates have actively highlighted their support" of the drug benefit, The Hill reports.
Some Republican candidates in close races have discussed the program during their campaigns, but the Republican party as a whole "has been mostly reactive to Democratic assaults rather than aggressive" in promoting the benefit, according to The Hill. The National Republican Congressional Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee or the Republican National Committee have not sponsored advertisements touting the program, according to spokespeople for those organizations.
Bush recently said, "My own view is our candidates and the people who voted for this ought to be out there traveling to senior centers all over their districts and their state, saying, 'Look what we did.'"
Former CMS Administrator Tom Scully -- a lobbyist at the law firm Alston and Bird and a partner at investment firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson and Stowe -- said Republicans are "crazy not to take credit for it. It's a huge positive in my opinion."
Several opinion polls show that most beneficiaries are satisfied with the drug benefit, according to The Hill.
However, Scully noted that low-income beneficiaries who stand to benefit most from the program traditionally have not supported Republican candidates. Republicans also are uncomfortable promoting their role in expanding entitlement programs, he said, adding, "Republicans traditionally are fearful of talking about Medicare," he said.
In addition, the cost of the drug benefit is unpopular with fiscal conservatives, The Hill reports.
Republican pollster Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies said the drug benefit has made a "very modest" impression on voters younger than age 65, and it is not expected to be an important issue for voters (Young, The Hill, 11/1).