Proposed Medicare, Medicaid Commission ‘Due for a Rebirth’
A proposal by President Bush to establish a "bipartisan commission to examine the future of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other entitlement programs" is "due for a rebirth," with Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) scheduled next month to introduce legislation to establish such a commission, Washington Post columnist David Broder writes in an opinion piece. The proposal "seemed a safe fallback when Bush floated it in January" during his State of the Union address, but "his overtures to Democrats were not accepted," in part because Bush likely would "not allow his tax cuts to be weighed along with any savings on the benefits side -- at least not before November's midterm election," Broder writes.
According to Broder, Wolf, "unlike the president, ... is explicitly prepared to remove one giant roadblock by signaling that everything -- including taxes -- would be on the table." Under the legislation, a bipartisan commission would "hold hearings around the country and report back in six to nine months on steps to deal with the long-term budget crisis," Broder writes.
He adds that the legislation "meets most of the criteria" identified by U.S. Comptroller General David Walker, head of the Government Accountability Office, as "critical to a successful commission," although Walker also said that "presidential support and leadership are ... vital to success." Broder concludes that, "if the president is interested -- and if he is willing to put 'everything on the table' -- the Wolf initiative could become his action-forcing device" (Broder, Washington Post, 5/21).