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links for 2009-12-27

Well, Well, Well!! The Associated Press Has Eaten Its Wheaties This Morning!

It says that all Republican senators are hypocrites who if they wish to avoid eternal damnation should resign their posts, give all they have to the poor, and take up a life of anonymous service to others:

Health care: Republican senators attacking the cost of a Democratic health care bill showed far different concerns six years ago, when they approved a major Medicare expansion that has added tens of billions of dollars to federal deficits.... [W]hen Republicans controlled the House, Senate and White House in 2003, they overcame Democratic opposition to add a deficit-financed prescription drug benefit to Medicare. The program will cost a half-trillion dollars over 10 years, or more by some estimates.... All current GOP senators, including the 24 who voted for the 2003 Medicare expansion, oppose the health care bill.... 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."

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. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, said simply: "Dredging up history is not the way to move forward." She noted that she fought unsuccessfully to offset some of President George W. Bush's deep tax cuts at the time. But for now, she said, "it's a question of what's in this package," which the Senate passed Thursday in a party-line vote. The Senate bill still must be reconciled with a House version. The political situation is different now, Snowe said, because "we're in a tough climate and people are angry and frustrated."

Some conservatives have no patience for such explanations. "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% of the cost simply added to the federal budget deficit."...

Other lawmakers who voted for the 2003 Medicare expansion include the Senate's top three Republican leaders, all sharp critics of the Obama-backed health care plans: Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Jon Kyl of Arizona and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. Eleven Democratic senators voted with them back then....

Bill Clinton's administration was largely constrained by a pay-as-you-go law, requiring most tax cuts or program expansions to be offset elsewhere with tax increases and/or spending cuts. Clinton ended his presidency with a budget surplus. But it soon was wiped out by a sagging economy, the Iraq war, GOP tax cuts and the lapsing of the pay-as-you-go restrictions....

Judy Feder, an analyst with the Democratic-leaning Center for American Progress, said these Republicans had their chance and blew it. In the second Bush administration, she said, "there was a total elimination of any kind of pay-for responsibility." Those responsible should now show some humility, she said.

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