It looks as though for better or worse, we got ourselves a health care bill for Christmas. Its provisions have been under attack from both left and right, led by ‘Pub conservatives issuing blood-curdling warnings about expanding government and destroying the economy.
The best “Oh, really?” response I’ve encountered so far is an article in Forbes by Bruce Bartlett, a former Treasury Department economist in the Reagan and Bush I administrations. Excerpts:
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.
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.”
Just to be clear, the Medicare drug benefit was a pure giveaway with a gross cost greater than either the House or Senate health reform bills how being considered. Together the new bills would cost roughly $900 billion over the next 10 years, while Medicare Part D will cost $1 trillion.
Moreover, there is a critical distinction–the drug benefit had no dedicated financing, no offsets and no revenue-raisers; 100% of the cost simply added to the federal budget deficit, whereas the health reform measures now being debated will be paid for with a combination of spending cuts and tax increases, adding nothing to the deficit over the next 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
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. Space prohibits listing all their names, but the final Senate vote can be found here and the House vote here.
Damn Reaganomics socialist!