WASHINGTON (PAI) — The same labor-backed coalition that last year helped successfully derail GOP President George W. Bush’s Social Security privatization scheme has launched a campaign to get lawmakers to postpone the May 15 deadline seniors face to sign up for Bush’s confusing, chaotic, costly prescription drug plan.

But this time they may face an uphill battle, as Bush says he can’t postpone the deadline and Bush’s health and human services secretary says he won’t do so.

The aim of the drive by the group, Americans United, is to give seniors more time to consider the bewildering array of choices — sometimes as many as 70 competing drug plans — they face when picking a prescription drug provider under Bush’s prescription drug scheme, called Medicare Part D. The group will start running ads telling people to call their lawmakers in 32 selected congressional districts.

The reason for the urgency is that seniors who don’t choose by May 15 — and some 13 million face the decision — would get hit with penalties that increase their drug insurance premiums under the plan by 7 percent for every month they delay, said one of the two lawmakers pushing for the postponement, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).

Bush’s drug scheme is so confusing, expensive and weighted towards drug company interests that Congress needs to go back to the drawing board and pass a real prescription drug benefit, said spokespersons for Americans United. But they admitted in a telephone press conference that a rewrite is impossible while the GOP runs Congress. Failing that, postponing the deadline is their goal.

“How they [HHS] can adequately describe 50 different plans to people in my congressional district, I don’t know,” Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), the bill’s other sponsor, said.

The Bush plan really was “a bill written by and for the pharmaceutical industry,” Stabenow stated.