The Aberdeen American News has an editorial congratulating Senator Daschle for his position on the alleged threats directed at the Medicare bean counter:
Sen. Tom Daschle is right to call for an investigation into whether the top Medicare analyst was ordered - on threat of termination - to withhold cost estimates of the new Medicare prescription-drug bill.
Republicans should be joining our Democratic senator to sort out just what happened because, if what actuary Richard Foster says happened is true, this is scandalous.
And here's what Foster, who works at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, claims happened: In early June his then-boss, Thomas Scully, sent him a written note ordering him not to give members of Congress, then busy drafting the drug bill, any information. The written note - which, Foster said, came after at least three other verbal threats - "was a direct order not to respond to certain requests . . . and warned about the consequences of insubordination."
Foster clearly believes that politics were at play. According to a Knight Ridder story: "Estimates that were supportive of the legislation were generally released, and estimates that could be used to criticize the legislation were generally not released," he is quoted as saying.
An investigation into the truth behind these details is necessary. Manipulating figures for political purposes and keeping factual information from elected officials trying to craft complex laws is an outrage.
Senator Daschle and the Aberdeen American News are completely correct. Any time a political leader or his or her supporters intimidate or threaten to terminate people who don't agree with them it is a major public scandal. All such incidents should thoroughly investigated, as Daschle has said. Including these.