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GOP Hypocrisy on Health Care Spending?

Morgen on December 25, 2009 at 11:45 pm

Charles Babington with the Associated Press reports on an attempt by Democrats to call the GOP out for hypocrisy on health care spending (emphasis added) :

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.

The inconsistency—or hypocrisy, as some call it—has irked Democrats, who claim that their plan will pay for itself with higher taxes and spending cuts and cite the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office for support.

By contrast, when 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.

This is a nice bit of revisionism. Sure, the GOP is largely responsible for the passage of the Medicare prescription drug bill. In fact, it was a major legislative focus for President Bush during his first term. However, what Babington neglects to mention is that Democrats at the time were championing a far more costly prescription drug plan than Republicans.

According to CNN in 2003, the leading Democratic proposal was projected to cost from $700 to $900 billion over 10 years, while the plan signed into law by President Bush was initially projected to cost only $400 billion. Then House minority leader Nancy Pelosi condemned the GOP plan as providing only a “meager benefit” for seniors, and called for a much more generous entitlement plan.

What Babington also fails to point out is that the only reason the prescription drug plan passed was because 11 Democrats in the Senate voted for the bill, including Baucus, Conrad, Dorgan, Feinstein, and Wyden and several other more conservative Democrats who are still serving in the Senate. By today’s hyper-partisan standards this was a bi-partisan bill, especially when you consider the effort the current Administration has made to get only one or two Republicans to sign onto its healthcare reform agenda.

Genuine conservatives were just as opposed to the Medicare prescription drug entitlement as they are to ObamaCare. The GOP, however, deserves plenty of scorn for their lack of fiscal responsibility during the Bush years, and this bill was a prime example. However, claims of “hypocrisy” from Democrats ring hollow considering that if they had their way we would have wound up with a much more expensive bill.

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Category: Health & Education, Politics |

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