Hey, guess what? That godawful Medicare bill is gonna cost more than the President promised it would, and in doing so will push the deficit to over half a trillion dollars.
The White House will estimate the cost of creating prescription drug benefits and revamping the mammoth health-care program for the elderly and disabled at $534 billion for the decade that ends in 2013, the officials said. The number will be in the 2005 budget Bush proposes Monday.
While muscling the Medicare package through Congress in November, Bush and Republican leaders won pivotal votes by reassuring conservatives that the cost over that period would track the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office's estimate of $395 billion. The measure passed both chambers narrowly, giving the president one of his top legislative triumphs since taking office.
The new figures represent the first time the White House has released its projections of the bill's costs.
"No one vote has caused me more angst in my short political career,'' said Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas. "I hope this will embolden conservatives and others'' to control spending.
Hensarling was among several conservatives who voted for the measure after being told by Bush, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and others that the costs should fall within the Congressional Budget Office estimate.
Rep. John Shadegg, R-Ariz., a conservative who voted against the bill, said he never believed the $395 billion cost estimate because such long-term forecasts are "meaningless.''
[C]ongressional officials said Bush's budget will project a federal deficit this year of about $520 billion. That would easily exceed the $375 billion total for 2003, a record in dollar terms.