Steve Bene at The Washington Monthly has a post up on the fiscal hypocrisy of a number of Republicans, a theme I touch on in the post below.
The record is strikingly clear. When Bush/Cheney slashed taxes by well over $1 trillion, Republicans said there was no reason to worry about paying for it. When Bush/Cheney started the war in Afghanistan, Republicans said there was no reason to worry about paying for it. When Bush/Cheney started the war in Iraq, Republicans said there was no reason to worry about paying for it. When Bush/Cheney added Medicare Part D, Republicans said there was no reason to worry about paying for it.
It’s not that their efforts at paying for it came up short, it’s that they didn’t even try. The notion of fiscal responsibility was simply deemed irrelevant — an inconvenient detail for unnamed people in the future to worry about.
I really think you can take this one step further, as Matt Yglesias hints at here.
The question of whether or not the push for health care reform will succeeds depends, as it did in 1993-94 and it always has, on the fairly simple question “do moderate Democrats want universal health care?”
In the context of the two posts, “moderate Democrats” and “Republicans” are for all intents and purposes; the same group of people who have been bleating about the deficit and some such event though Barack Obama has repeatedly pledged health reform will be deficit neutral. But to get back to the point, it seems fairly obvious that this is almost certainly the state of play: Mitch McConnell, and I’m sure to a certain degree, Ben Nelson really don’t want to pass comprehensive health reform. For some legislators it might be pressure from a health insurance company that covers a majority of their state and for others it might be a visceral reaction to “big government” and for still others it might simply be about scoring a political vicotry. Nevertheless, you can see this clearly from the arguments employed. That is, opponents of reform — and “uncooperatives” like Ben Nelson — don’t engage the case for reform on the merits. They respond to argument A with concern B, and concern B with argument A.
Imagine you asked two different friends to go see a movie with you. Friend Number One says, “Yes, I’d like to see a movie, but I’m really concerned about saving money. Why don’t we go out to dinner?” At this point, you might reasonably conclude that given Friend Number One’s willingness to pay for another, non-movie activity, Friend Number One was being disingenuous and about their reasoning and move on. But no, you really want to include Friend Number One — the more the merrier! — and even better you also are concerned about saving money, so you propose selling some cookies to pay for the tickets. Well, as it turns out, Friend Number One really hates cookies. They are nutritionally hollow, contribute to heart disease, and will eventually kill everyone in the country. That said, he’d still love to go to dinner. Zut alors! At this point, you’re finding dealing with Friend Number One to be quite exasperating, and though you’d still like Friend Number One to come, you turn to Friend Number Two. Maybe she won’t be so difficult.
Good news! Friend Number Two says she’d love to go to a movie and what’s more, is totally down with the plan of paying for the tickets. But still, she has some concerns about hurting Friend Number One’s feelings, even though Friend Number One is saying one thing and doing another. You explain to Friend Number Two that yes, of course it would be great to have Friend Number One come along (you even tried hard yourself!), but Friend Number One is really being difficult, and furthermore, you’re beginning to doubt whether or not Friend Numbe One even likes you guys. Well, being that as it may, Friend Number Two is still committed to involving Friend Number One, and what’s more, wants to instead bake a fruit cake owing to her roommate’s allergy to chocolate chips. Well, fine you say. Fruit cake it is, as long as we go see a fucking movie. Uh oh! Well Friend Number Two really doesn’t like your tone, and in light of that fact, now thinks it’s more important than ever that Friend Number One is a-ok with you guys going to see a movie — why don’t we just wait it out, take a deep breath, and talk about it. She’ll call you in a few hours.
If you were in this situation, you might want to stop and ask Friend Number Two, “Hey, do you even want to see the fucking movie? And are you just using Friend Number One as an excuse to avoid personal responsibility here?” And you’d be asking pretty good questions.