Central planning is not an economic policy.

Here’s an interesting but misguided study:

A new poll shows that the overwhelming majority of Americans favor allowing the government to negotiate prescription drug prices for the Medicare program, suggesting there will be considerable political pressure on the next Congress to do so.

Eight-five percent of the 1,867 adults polled in the Kaiser Family Foundation survey released yesterday said they favored such negotiations, including majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents.

So people presumably understand that negotiating in the marketplace makes sense. Why include government? Do people not pay attention to results?

Julie L. Goon, special assistant to Bush for economic policy, said that Medicare beneficiaries are saving an average of $1,200 a year on drugs and that the existing program is popular and efficient.

“The government doesn’t do a particularly good job of negotiation,” Goon said. “I think it would be a mistake to open up the political process to what particular prices are available for drugs.”

Success is measured by beneficiaries saving money without noting that the cost is that someone else pays that $1,200. Of course, we could look no further than the stunningly frank admission that government doesn’t do a particularly good job of negotiation. The trade-off for those savings-that-aren’t-really-savings is fewer choices. Well done.

Welcome to government meddling with healthcare. Anyone who wants more is crazy.