The Washington Post once again reported as fact the Bush administration's misleading claim that "29 million Americans have enrolled" in the Medicare prescription drug program. But while the Post suggested that the 29 million enrollees joined the program voluntarily, more than two-thirds were, in fact, enrolled automatically.
In reporting on President Bush's March 14 remarks on the Medicare prescription drug program, The Washington Post and the Associated Press both uncritically repeated Bush's claim that 26 million senior citizens have voluntarily enrolled in the program. In fact, the number of seniors who voluntarily enrolled is about 5 million, or one-fifth of the number touted by Bush and repeated by the Post and AP.
The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal reported on February 3 that the revised 10-year cost estimates of President Bush's Medicare prescription drug plan were less than earlier projected -- $678 billion, as opposed to $737 billion estimated in August 2005. In fact, while they were less than August 2005 projections, they were far more than the $400 billion estimate the administration provided Congress when trying to get the votes to approve the plan.
Major news outlets ignored President Bush's decision not to attend the once-a-decade White House Conference on Aging, where, according to the Palm Beach Post, he was the target of "a stinging rebuke" and where delegates refused to embrace "the Medicare drug law or Bush's call for private Social Security investment accounts." Outlets focused instead on Bush's speech at a Virginia event designed to promote the Medicare prescription drug benefit.