Lying to Congress ought to get a person into a lot of trouble. Tom Scully, the former head of CMS, is poised to skate on the charge that he directed the head auditor of CMS to lie to Congress about the actual budget projections for last fall's Medicare reform proposal. Threatened with the loss of his job if he told Congress the truth, the auditor shaded his estimate by nearly 50% (or $150 billion), which kept the estimate under $400 billion, the previously announced upper limit for a key group of Republican Senators. (There are more details in previous posts to this blog: 7/7/04
.) Although the OIG says no laws were broken by Scully's efforts to affirmatively mislead the Congress, and no job action can be taken against an ex-exmployee, an editorial
in today's N.Y. Times
Regardless of the legal technicalities, it is a terrible policy to deprive legislators of information they need to make informed choices. Mr. Foster has said that he shared his estimates not only with Mr. Scully, but also with Doug Badger, President Bush's health policy adviser. Both Mr. Scully and Mr. Badger declined an invitation to appear before the House Ways and Means Committee in April. The committee should call both men again, under subpoena if necessary, to answer questions about what looks like a conspiracy to keep Congress in the dark.