Thursday, June 19, 2003

Rights & Reason: The New York, er Washington Times

The Washington Times continues their intellectual dishonesty on prescription drugs with yet another editorial telling us why there's nothing to worry about. I'm beginning to wonder if Tony Blankley is still running the editorial page over there, or whether he's yielded control to the former Iraqi information minister. Consider this poorly-reasoned paragraph:
Another reason why a Republican-driven prescription-drug law is beneficial to U.S. drug companies is that it will protect their patent rights. Foreign outfits ripping off U.S. patents pose one of the largest economic threats to the American pharmaceutical industry. Currently, there is measurable political support among liberals to bring in pirated drugs from Canada and Europe because they are cheaper. (Forgers avoid the high research and development costs of legitimate firms that actually create new medicines.) Take away the prohibitive pricing problem that exists now, as the developing legislation would do, and the pressure to import cheaper drugs disappears and U.S. patents are safe, at least in this country.
Drugs are cheaper in Canada and Europe because the government runs the healthcare system in those countries. The Times, in essence, is suggesting we join the fray by partially socializing our system with respect to prescription drugs. At the same time, the Times wants you to believe that by taking step one, we won't take steps two and three into actually socializing our system like Canada. But by surrendering the moral and tactical advantage on the drug issue, it will be substantially harder to resist calls for greater government intervention in the healthcare market in the future. The Times refuses to accept this reality.

Also note the Times said the "Republican-driven prescription drug law." If Democrats had proposed the exact same bill, the Times would likely look at the facts and oppose the measure. This is partisan editorializing at its New York Times-like worst. Indeed, the Times once again concludes an op-ed on this issue by making this utterly ridiculous claim:
Add these policy benefits to the political windfall passage of a prescription-drug law would bring, and Republicans have win-win legislation on their hands. With one less issue to demagogue, Democrats are worried — and should be.
Once again, I say: The Republicans have won the White House in four of the last six elections, and retained the House for five consecutive elections. They did that without having enacted a prescription drug benefit. Why exactly is it imperative to do so now? Nobody believes that passing the current bill will end Democratic demagoguery on this or any other issue. Does the Times think Ted Kennedy and Tom Daschle will be satisfied with anything less than full government control over healthcare? They'll continue to demagogue this issue until Republicans surrender unconditionally. And this prescription drug bill is a great place to start. Republicans—with the Times cheering them on—are preparing to surrender their basic political principles to score some cheap, quick political points.

In 1995, Bill Clinton famously claimed "the era of big government is over." Democrats obviously abandoned that mantra the minute Clinton was out of the electoral picture. But who would have thought Republicans would abandon it at a time when they were politically at their strongest.

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