Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 27, 2009

THE RECORD SOME WOULD PREFER TO FORGET.... Just six years ago, congressional Republicans approved a major expansion of the government's role over health care, adding a massive amount of money to the national debt in its first decade.

The AP's Charles Babington reports that most GOP officials no longer want to talk about their own record.

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."

Seriously? Is that how we're going to play this game?

Snowe's quote is hard to take seriously -- as if her own record isn't relevant right now -- but it's Hatch's quote that's especially ridiculous. For Republicans, supporting huge new programs without figuring out how to pay for them "was standard practice." Six years later, this is justifiable, just so long as the huge new programs do "a lot of good."

Just so we're clear, according to the rules, Republicans don't have to pay for their programs, and Democrats do. Republicans can build up massive debts, and Democrats can't.

Let's cut the nonsense. Republicans supported Medicare Part D (Karl Rove saw it as a way of creating a "permanent" GOP majority). It was the biggest expansion of government into the health care industry since Medicare. By any reasonable measure, it was a huge giveaway to private industries, and came with a price tag of at least $1 trillion -- far more than this year's Democratic health care reform plan. It was "complicated as hell," and left a huge doughnut hole that screwed over millions of seniors. It included end-of-life counseling, which Republicans now consider "death panels." The Republican bill, which passed under almost comically corrupt circumstances, was financed entirely -- literally, 100% -- through deficit spending, leaving future generations to pick up the tab.

And what do these exact same Republican lawmakers say now? That the Democratic reform plan increases government's role in health care (check), costs too much (check), is too complicated (check), and passed under suspicious circumstances (check). Oh, and don't "dredge up history" that GOP finds embarrassing.

Republicans simply aren't serious about health care policy. Anyone who suggests the Democratic bill should have been "bipartisan" need only to be reminded of what transpired six short years ago.

Steve Benen 11:10 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (27)

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Good post, Steve. Too bad so many Dems (e.g., Dodd) think civility is more important than playing to win.

Posted by: Dems lose huge in 2010 on December 27, 2009 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

In this next election cycle, the Republicans got a lot of 'splaining to do! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on December 27, 2009 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

Apparently we are overthinking it. In the Republican mindset, Rep = good, Dem = bad. All other details are irrelevant.

Posted by: N.Wells on December 27, 2009 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Wow! Full of sh*t Republicans?! Who could've possibly guessed?

Posted by: jimmy on December 27, 2009 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

One lesson is that giving the health care industry a trillion dollar present didn't ensure Republican re-elections. I hope the Dems aren't counting on their bill ensuring their reelections either.

Posted by: Dale on December 27, 2009 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

The elegant Sen. Snowe was already a worthless fraud when Obama started kissing her fat ass eight months ago, and now she's just as worthless but twice as conceited.

Thanks, Barrack! You can expect Lieberman gratitude from that fine lady, I'm sure.

Posted by: John Emerson on December 27, 2009 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

Deficits don't matter; it's our due.

Posted by: km on December 27, 2009 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans simply aren't serious about policy.

There, fixed it for you.

Posted by: mrgumby2u on December 27, 2009 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

Why is Snowe's quote -- "Dredging up history is not the way to move forward." -- hard to take seriously? Obama says it all the time.


Posted by: alan in sf on December 27, 2009 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

This article says it all, many of the things I have been thinking. Why is it that the media does not point out these things. Another point - The republicans used the surplus left by Bill Clinton to try to give themselves some political capital!
Every time we have a republican administration it manages to destroy the budget savings made by democrats.

Posted by: JS on December 27, 2009 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Excellent Steve for bringing this up. And excellent for the AP to finally print something about ancient American history.

It's worth noting, it's not just with their voting record and their new found concern for fiscal matters has the GOP changed its tune. It's also with its rhetoric, which has turned extreme and as violent as ever in American history. Just think, less than 3 years ago it was un-patriotic to question a wartime president much less not vote for his legislation.

Posted by: Chris- The Fold on December 27, 2009 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Ahh the good old days when a man could rely on areas lower than his self regard .

Posted by: FRP on December 27, 2009 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

A lot of people seem to think the republicans are going to run in the next election on the fact that they are going to overturn health care reform. Let's hope this thing gets put into action and people begin to like it.

Posted by: js on December 27, 2009 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP is a joke. They had 8 years to fix healthcare but they were too busy spending us blind (trillions just gone!) with two wars and tax breaks/giveaways to oil companies. They are the reason we are now broke, and then the want to lecture the Democrats who try to do something for the American people? Blow me. The Republicans would rather send billions to Israel so they can have universal healthcare (yes, they have it) than give anything to the middle class.

Posted by: randy on December 27, 2009 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

@Randy: A nice little touch of anti-semitism to lighten up any rant is always a great way to get people on your side!

Posted by: Kenneth G. Cavness on December 27, 2009 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

@American Hawk: This is why we say you partisan wingnuts are completely unserious about health care. The medical decisions are NEVER "between doctors and patients" -- they're between doctors, patients, insurance companies, and your employer. Not to mention hospital and doctors boards, insurance organizations...

Posted by: Kenneth G. Cavness on December 27, 2009 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

Abusers of one's trust at whatever level it happens from the personal to the societal, always want to "forget history."

Posted by: TCinLA on December 27, 2009 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

getting the government out of the healthcare business and leaving medical decisions as a conversation between doctors and patients.

Nice to see that "American Hawk," one of the single dumbest dumbass wingnuts to ever troll at this site, is back - long time no see, drooler.

How many ways are the convulsions passing for mental processes inside your granite skull wrong this time? We'll just leave it with the fact that with reform that prevents private insurance companies from having a clerk get a bonus for second-guessing a doctor's decisions whenever it might cost the company money, we are "leaving medical decisions as a conversation between doctors and patients,"

But it's really nice to have your fatheaded moron stupidity back, asswipe. We need more wingnuts here proving that there are indeed two species of hairless biped on the planet: homo sapiens - us - and homo sap - you.

Posted by: TCinLA on December 27, 2009 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

So I was quickly channel surfing this am - looking for a football game, and came across one of the Sum am yak shows, in which the host was asking Mitch McConnell about all of his votes to cube medicare spending in the 90's and early 00's, and how this seems "inconsistent" with the current stance. I cannot listen to that clown, so I don't know what his answer was. I also don't watch the MSM much - but why are these questions being asked now - and not in Aug-Nov, when instead we heard about "death panels" ... oh, silly me.

Posted by: bigwisc on December 27, 2009 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

Both parties run up deficits, because they've gotten elected by being Santa Claus promising payouts to constituents and interest groups but they don't want the political fallout of having to raise taxes.

The only way to fix it is to hold politicians of both parties to their Oath of Office to uphold the Constitution so that we have a scope of government that is not only Constitutional but moral and affordable.

Posted by: Spencer Morgan on December 27, 2009 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

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

Here's what she muttered under her breath:

"Neither is speaking, thinking, education, or science - all we want is a bunch of mouth breather idiots to do our bidding..."

Posted by: Glen on December 27, 2009 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

Why is Snowe's quote -- "Dredging up history is not the way to move forward." -- hard to take seriously? Obama says it all the time.

As far as I can tell, no one likes it when Obama says that, either. He does it because he needs the support of the Beltway establishment and is delaying the punishment of criminals in order to get the vital elements of his agenda through. Snowe is simply a coward, ashamed of her party's record, unwilling to tell the same lies as the rest of them, but too beholden to them to tell the truth.

Posted by: Midland on December 27, 2009 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

You don't understand. The GOP strongly supports government spending, as long as it is essentially a transfer of government funds to large corporatate friends with little asked in return. The problem they have with the Democrats' plan is that it actually wants the corporations to have to do something in exchange for all those bucks. That they see as unamerican, since they believe the American Way is to get something for nothing, just as they do.

Posted by: biggerbox on December 27, 2009 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

@Kenneth G. Cavness

sorry, objecting to $$ for Israel is not anti-semitism

and indeed it is a point - we give $$ to Israel for defense so they don't have to spend all their health care dollars instead - but it's out of the question for USians to get health care. got it.

Posted by: Shell Goddamnit on December 27, 2009 at 9:04 PM | PERMALINK

Wait - isn't this one of the reasons we voted Republicans OUT of office? And now we're saying it's OK for Democrats to do it?

Posted by: Arnold Buckner on December 27, 2009 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK

and would it be "unfair" to point out that the Bush admin threatened to fire the actuary who tried to say how much the Medicare prescription benefit would cost us? IOW they deliberately lied about the cost and tried to cover it up? Am I the only one who remembers that?

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