View Full Version : Lott: Scrap Medicare Drugs, Pay For Storm

09-21-2005, 09:48 PM
Lott: Scrap Medicare drugs, pay for storm


By Ellyn Ferguson
Gannett News Service

WASHINGTON — Congress could help pay for rebuilding efforts in Mississippi and other areas hit by Hurricane Katrina if it halted the $700 billion Medicare prescription drug program, former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said Tuesday.

Lott, R-Miss., told reporters his vote in November 2003 for the Medicare drug program, which has nearly doubled its projected cost, was one of two he most regretted in his 34 years on Capitol Hill.

The new Medicare drug benefit is scheduled to take effect in January. President Bush and House Majority leader Tom DeLay say the program is too far along to stop.

Lott was unconvinced by that argument.

"I never saw anything you couldn't stop if you made up your mind to," he said.

Lott made his comments before heading into a Senate Republican policy lunch, where the topic was how to pay for Katrina rebuilding efforts. Guests included DeLay, R-Texas, Vice President Dick Cheney and President Bush's budget chief Josh Bolten.

Earlier in the day, DeLay said rebuilding efforts in Mississippi, Alabama and New Orleans could be less than the $200 billion original estimate. He added that GOP leaders would still look for budget cuts to satisfy fiscal conservatives who want offsets for the Katrina spending.

Lott said lawmakers should reconsider extending some tax cuts because they would reduce federal revenues. However, he said Congress should extend expiring tax cuts that benefit families with children. He did not offer examples of those taxes.

"You have to be careful," he said, "because some of these tax cuts, if they are not extended, it means families with children will have taxes go up. That's the wrong thing to do at the wrong time."

The president made his fifth trip Tuesday to the Gulf Coast since Katrina struck the region.

Lott, who traveled with Bush to Mississippi last week, said he had advised the president to show "passion and compassion" in his public statements and actions.

The president's speech to the nation last Thursday "was a good start," Lott said. "One speech is not going to fix this," he said. "I don't mean that as a criticism. This is hard. It's going to be expensive and it's going to be long."

09-21-2005, 10:15 PM
Why should the rest of America have to pay for what happend in New Orleans? That's so unfair.