Politicians and Hypocrisy

The news is out – some politicians are considered hypocrites by their fellow politicians.

Many Democrat senators are claiming that a number of Republican senators are behaving hypocritically by opposing the current health care legislation.  The argument is that because a Republican Congress and Republican President passed a bad piece of legislation that would give additional drug benefits to America’s seniors, then these same politicians are being hypocritical if they don’t support the current health care bills.

The Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit, passed in 2003, will cost American taxpayers between $500 billion and $1 trillion (depending on whom you believe) over ten years – money we don’t have.  No provisions in the bill pay for these costs, resulting in potentially a trillion dollars in increased deficit spending.  That’s a problem.

The current House and Senate health care bills are projected to cost somewhere around $1 trillion or so over ten years ($1.1 trillion for House, $871 billion for Senate), but with savings and taxes written into the legislation to cover at least a portion of those costs.  Most politicians don’t believe that much of the cost-cutting will actually take place (such as the nearly $500 billion in cuts to Medicare reimbursements in the Senate version), so in reality these bills could potentially cost us trillions of dollars while leading to higher taxes for many segments of the population.

But to the question of hypocrisy . . . you’re kidding me, right?  Conservatives railed against the liberal spending policies of President Bush and the Republican Congress that aided and abetted in this massive buying of senior votes with borrowed money.  It was wrong then, it’s wrong now. It is simply a program we cannot afford.

That being said, though, it certainly had more bipartisan support than the current health care reform package.  The Medicare Drug Benefit passed with support of 16 Democrats in the House and 11 in the Senate, while being opposed by 25 Republicans in the House and 9 in the Senate.

As for the current health care bill, in the House vote 219 Democrats supported it while 39 voted against it, with only one Republican vote of support.  As far as the Senate version is concerned, it was a 60-39 vote, without one single Republican supporting its passage and without one single Democrat opposing it.  Bipartisanship at its best?

President Bush has been accused of a complete unwillingness to reach across the aisle and work with Democrats.  The Medicare prescription bill was just one example of a greater willingness than most conservatives are comfortable with.  The current health care legislation is proof positive of a total lack of any interest among Democrats to compromise in any way with Republicans.  President Obama’s claim of attempted bipartisanship is flatly confounded based on his and his party’s actions.  Yeah, they’re willing to work with the other side if the other side renounces all its principles, just as they did when supporting the drug benefit bill of 2003.

The amazing thing about this is that because the Republicans compromised once, they’re considered hypocrites if they don’t compromise again, while Democrats have refused to compromise on the current legislation and are thus untouched by such claims.

The American people are outraged and for the most part want no part of the current legislation.  While 76% of Democrats favor the plan and 82% of Republicans are opposed, of the unaffiliated just 28% support it.  The Republicans have listened to their constituents in their opposition to the the current bills and voted accordingly.

Let’s be clear – politicians of all stripes will typically act in a way that they have calculated will most benefit themselves and their party.  Very few end up serving us, the American people, more than they serve themselves.  Many of those who were willing to buy a few votes with the Medicare prescription drug benefit obviously don’t see the same political advantage to supporting the current mess of legislation; they have made that political calculation.  What’s so hypocritical about that?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *