Monday, November 13, 2006

Open Thread - Monday

NPR related comments welcomed.


David Green said...

Two comments by Dean Baker:

NPR on the Democrats on Drugs

One of the items on the Democrats' "100 hours" agenda is reforming the Medicare prescription drug bill. The bill passed by the Republican Congress prohibited Medicare from offering its own plan. This denied seniors the benefits of Medicare's lower administrative costs (@ $5 billion annually, or $200 per enrollee, according to CBO) and it means that drugs cost almost twice as much as if Medicare bargained directly with the industry and secured the same prices as the Veterans Administration or the Canadian government. The Republicans also added a seemingly gratuitous clause that explicitly prohibited Medicare from negotiating prices with the industry.

During the campaign, the Democrats had promised that they would reform the drug bill to allow Medicare to offer its own drug plan. On NPR this morning, it was reported that the Democrats now are just planning to remove the gratuitous clause prohibiting Medicare from negotiating prices with the drug industry, while not allowing Medicare to offer its own plan.

Removing this prohibition by itself will mean nothing. What would Medicare negotiate over, if it doesn't offer its own plan? This could lead cynics to believe that the Democrats are trying to pull in some of the campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical and insurance industries which have disproportionately gone to Republicans in recent election cycles.

Fixing the prescription drug benefit to save seniors and taxpayers money was one of the main promises made by the Democratic Party during the campaign. If they instead pursue a purely symbolic measure, with no practical significance, millions of people who voted for them on Tuesday will rightfully feel betrayed.

The media have the obligation to be sufficiently educated on this issue so that they can at least inform the public if such a betrayal is taking place. NPR's reporter was not.

-- Dean Baker

Do Small Businesses Care About Profits? Not According to NPR

In a short piece on the Democrats' top agenda items, one of their reporters discussed their plan to raise the minimum wage. In noting the objections of small businesses, he said that they are worried that a higher minimum wage would raise costs and force them to lay off workers.

Well, maybe they are concerned about having to lay off workers (a large body of economic research shows little or no employment impact from modest increases in the minimum wage), but it is reasonable to believe that they are also concerned about the prospect of lower profits. Is it too radical on National Public Radio to say that small business owners care about profit?

--Dean Baker

Anonymous said...

david -

cool, thanks for the heads-up... I love Dean Baker, and I'm glad to see him popping up from time to time on AAR or even, gasp, on CNN. Nice to see him taking on NPR.

Anonymous said...

anyone know anything about reporter Eleanor Beardsley? She was interviewed today about France's Liberation paper and I found her perspective particularly grating.