Friday, December 25, 2009

Republican Senators forced to defend 'back then it was standard practice not to pay for things'

Remember the 2003 medicare prescription drug benefit? The one which cost a trillion dollars and which was not paid for at all, just added to the deficit?

Today there are still 24 Republicans in the Senate who supported it, and some of their explanations for how they can be against the current health care overhaul sound strained, to say the least.

Six years ago, "it was standard practice not to pay for things," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. "We were concerned about it, because it certainly added to the deficit, no question." His 2003 vote has been vindicated, Hatch said, because the prescription drug benefit "has done a lot of good."

It has done a dubious amount of good (mainly to pharmaceutical companies' bottom line) but it's hard to suggest that a bill which clearly does much more good, extending coverage to the uninsured, is less worthy of Sen. Hatch's vote than the medicare prescription bill. And given that the CBO has projected that the current bill does in fact pay for itself and doesn't raise the deficit, how is it a defense to say that six years ago it was standard practice not to pay for things??? I mean, (pardon my French), WTF?!!?!?

Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, said those who see hypocrisy "can legitimately raise that issue." But he defended his positions in 2003 and now, saying the economy is in worse shape and Americans are more anxious.

No doubt, the economy is in worse shape. But that's largely because of the policies espoused by the same administration that brought us the prescription drug bill.

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, said simply: "Dredging up history is not the way to move forward."

The simple answer: those who have been proven wrong always say that.

At least some conservatives recognize how absurd this whole argument is:

"As far as I am concerned, any Republican who voted for the Medicare drug benefit has no right to criticize anything the Democrats have done in terms of adding to the national debt," said Bruce Bartlett, an official in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He made his comments in a Forbes article titled "Republican Deficit Hypocrisy."

Bartlett said the 2003 Medicare expansion was "a pure giveaway" that cost more than this year's Senate or House health bills will cost. More important, he said, "the drug benefit had no dedicated financing, no offsets and no revenue-raisers. One hundred percent of the cost simply added to the federal budget deficit."

The pending health care bills in Congress, he noted, are projected to add nothing to the deficit over 10 years.

This bill is responsible in that it does pay for itself and it benefits far more people than the prescription drug bill. So really (though they won't say it) the only reason they are opposing it is purely political. They want to inflict a defeat on the Obama agenda. End of story.


Jack Hampton said...

This just points out what hypocrites are in the GOP. They are vindictive, conniving and have the gall to attack Democrats for actually doing something that's going to help anyone besides corporate bigwigs.


sandyh said...

The GOP doesn't want others to have success when they didn't even try to adhere to their own stated fiscal philosophy.

Snowe's preoccupation with a trigger is now shown to be just another stalling tactic by the Republicans. When presented with a bill that the CPO said would automatically save money, she won't vote for it.

It's obvious that she never cared about saving money in the past any more than she cares about it now.

I find Snowe's behavior this summer and fall to be worse than the worst of the rest of the Republicans. She's a liar and a master manipulator... not just your garden variety conservative hypocrite.

Let's target her for extinction in the next re-election cycle. She's vulnerable if we challenge her with a good progressive alternative who takes pride in how they conduct themselves in matters of public trust.

Senator Snowe has acted as a fraud. Her actions prove it.

Healthcare is too important to play games with when so many middle class families tetter on the brink of bankruptcy from a major medical emergency.

Eli Blake said...


All I have to say about that is too bad Orrin Hatch is from Utah. Otherwise he'd be at the top of the target list after this boneheaded comment.