Posted by LibbyShaw
The Associated Press, Houston’s Channel 2 News and The Houston Chronicle reminded readers and viewers that the very same Republicans who oppose current health care reform had, in 2003, supported an expansion of Medicare. Unlike the Democrats today with HCR, Republicans in 2003 had no plan to pay for the Medicare expansion just like they had no plan to pay for the war in Iraq and tax cuts for the wealthy. All were charged to our, our childrens’, our grandchildrens’ and our great grandchildrens’ credit cards.
This is certainly a new twist with the mainstream media given its tactic sympathy and support of the GOP over the years. As we know, since at least 9/11, the media has given pass after pass to George W. Bush and his irresponsible and devastating crusade in Iraq, his Administration’s culture of corruption in Washington and the failure of the Department of Justice to meet some of its judicial responsibilities. The media failed to disclose that non-partisan federal agencies had been invaded by partisan hacks and had been turned into political arms for the RNC.
It is nice to see that the media has, hopefully, returned to the task of real reporting.
Democrats are troubled by the inconsistency of Republican lawmakers who approved a major Medicare expansion six years ago that has added tens of billions of dollars to federal deficits, but oppose current health overhaul plans.
All current GOP senators, including the 24 who voted for the 2003 Medicare expansion, oppose the health care bill that’s backed by President Barack Obama and most congressional Democrats.
The Democrats claim that their plan moving through Congress now will pay for itself with higher taxes and spending cuts and they 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.
With no new taxes or spending offsets accompanying the Medicare drug program, the cost has been added to the federal debt.
That’s right you so-called fiscal conservatives. Just shove more debt on the backs of middle class taxpayers.
The irresponsible Republicans rationalize their behavior in 2003 as DOH! We didn’t know we would bust the nation’s piggy bank so quickly. And, Vice President Dick Cheney assured us deficits don’t matter because Ronald Reagan had said it was so.
Some Republicans say they don’t believe the CBO’s projections that the health care overhaul will pay for itself. As for their newfound worries about big government health expansions, they essentially say: That was then, this is now.
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.
Apparently only Democratic deficits matter now.
Some Republicans and conservatives are not buying the Republican lawmaker’s lame excuses above.
From Bruce Bartlett of Forbes:
The human capacity for self-delusion never ceases to amaze me, so it shouldn’t surprise me that so many Republicans seem to genuinely believe that they are the party of fiscal responsibility. Perhaps at one time they were, but those days are long gone.
Republican fiscal irresponsibility according to a fiscal conservative:
This fact became blindingly obvious to me six years ago this month when a Republican president and a Republican Congress enacted the Medicare drug benefit, which former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker has called “the most fiscally irresponsible piece of legislation since the 1960s.”
Recall the situation in 2003. The Bush administration was already projecting the largest deficit in American history–$475 billion in fiscal year 2004, according to the July 2003 mid-session budget review. But a big election was coming up that Bush and his party were desperately fearful of losing. So they decided to win it by buying the votes of America’s seniors by giving them an expensive new program to pay for their prescription drugs.
Recall, too, that Medicare was already broke in every meaningful sense of the term. According to the 2003 Medicare trustees report, spending for Medicare was projected to rise much more rapidly than the payroll tax as the baby boomers retired. Consequently, the rational thing for Congress to do would have been to find ways of cutting its costs. Instead, Republicans voted to vastly increase them–and the federal deficit–by $395 billion between 2004 and 2013.
There is more. Check out this piece on the Hall of GOP Lying, Hypocrisy and Shame.
Today the Medicare prescription-drug debate is remembered mainly for the political shenanigans Republicans used to get their bill through. Bush officials lied about the numbers and threatened to fire Medicare’s chief actuary if he shared honest cost estimates with Congress. House Republicans cut off C-SPAN and kept the roll call open for three hours-as opposed to the requisite 15 minutes-while cajoling the last few votes they needed for passage. Former Majority Leader Tom DeLay was admonished by the House ethics committee for winning the eleventh-hour support of Nick Smith, a Michigan Republican, by threatening to vaporize Smith’s son in an upcoming election. It’s worth remembering these moments when Republicans criticize Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid for his hardball tactics.
The real significance of that episode, however, is not their bad manners, but what Republicans ordered the last time health care was on the menu. Their bill, which stands as the biggest expansion of government’s role in health care since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965, created an entitlement for seniors to purchase low-cost drug coverage. Grassleycare, also known as Medicare Part D, employs a complicated structure of deductibles, co-pays, and coverage limits. Thanks to something called the “doughnut hole,” drug coverage disappears when out-of-pocket costs reach $2,400, returning only when they hit $3,850. Simply stated, the bill cost a fortune, wasn’t paid for, is complicated as hell, and doesn’t do all that much-though it does include coverage for end-of life-counseling, or what Grassley now calls “pulling the plug on grandma.”
In their 2009 report to Congress, the Medicare trustees estimate the 10-year cost of Medicare D as high as $1.2 trillion. That figure-just for prescription-drug coverage that people over 65 still have to pay a lot of money for-dwarfs the $848 billion cost of the Senate bill. The Medicare D price tag continues to escalate because the bill explicitly bars the government from using its market power to negotiate drug prices with manufacturers or establishing a formulary with approved medications.
And unlike the Democratic bills, which won’t add to the deficit, the bill George W. Bush signed was financed entirely through deficit spending. While Grassley and his colleagues accuse Democrats of harming Medicare through cost cuts, it is their bill that has done the most to hasten Medicare’s coming insolvency. Between now and 2083, Medicare D’s unfunded obligations amount to $7.2 trillion according to the trustees. Numbers like these prompted former Comptroller General David M. Walker to call it “… probably the most fiscally irresponsible piece of legislation since the 1960s.”
Grassley is not alone in his incoherence. Of 28 current Republican senators who were in the Senate back in 2003, 24 voted for the Medicare prescription-drug benefit. Of 122 Republicans still in the House, 108 voted for it. There is not space here to fully review this hall of shame, which includes Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, and Orrin Hatch of Utah, among many others. Here is Kansas Republican Sam Brownback in 2003: “The passage of the Medicare bill fulfills a promise that we made to my parents’ generation and keeps a promise to my kids’ generation.” Here is Brownback in 2009: “This hugely expensive bill will not lower costs and will not cover all uninsured.” Here is Jon Kyl of Arizona: “As a member of the bipartisan team that crafted the Part D legislation, I am committed to ensuring its successful implementation. I will fight attempts to erode Part D coverage.“* Kyl now calls Harry Reid’s legislation: “a trillion-dollar bill that raises premiums, increases taxes, and raids Medicare.” (Bold is mine)
As we can see the Republican lawmakers’ opposition to health care reform legislation is as usual, a boatload of garbage loaded down by lies, hypocrisy and self-serving agendas.