"Drop dead" isn't what it used to be

John Taylor: February 13, 20080 Comments

In 1975, a whiz-bang headline writer for the New York Daily News captured the essence of what then-President Gerald Ford did (at least as most New Yorkers viewed it) when he refused to provide federal aid to spare the city from financial insolvency.

"Ford to City: Drop Dead." 

And now again, as a lame-duck president proposes $200 billion in Medicare and Medicaid cuts, a New York hospital association and a labor union have purchased a full-page ad in the New York Times.

"Bush to NY Hospitals: Drop Dead."

Maybe if you weren't a news hound or a New Yorker -- I was both -- in 1975, you might have missed the original headline. But the new one lacks punch -- though, to be sure, Community Medical Centers and many other hospitals would be savaged if the budget goes through unmodified. Lots of lobbying is under way.

But maybe with the wars, the imbecility/sadness of Spears-Lohan-Hilton et al, home foreclosures -- telling someone to "drop dead" seems devoid of thought.

Or maybe I just need to forget that while wars continue, the economy sags and all these potentially horrendous cuts are waiting for lawmakers to act, the talk on the Hill is about steroids, growth hormones and which Solomon will decide which athlete/athletic-supporter is a liar.