15 December 2009

Say One Thing, Do Another

When you get down to brass tacks, the Republicans actually stand for nothing but their own hides. Here's a good example of how the Republicans can flip on an issue that is supposedly part of their principles:

Slate: Are Republicans Serious About Fixing Health Care?
No, and here's the proof.

One might credit the sincerity, if not the validity, of such concerns were it not for an inconvenient bit of history. Not so long ago, when Republicans controlled the Senate, Grassley was the chief architect of a bill that actually did most of the bad things he now accuses the Democrats of wanting. As chairman of the finance committee, Grassley championed the legislation that created a prescription-drug benefit under Medicare. The contrast between what he and his colleagues said during that debate in 2003 and what they're saying in 2009 exposes the disingenuousness of their current complaints.

The explanation for this vast collective flip-flop is—have you guessed?—politics. Medicare recipients are much more likely to vote Republican than the uninsured who would benefit most from the Democratic bills. In 2003, Karl Rove was pushing the traditional liberal tactic of solidifying senior support with a big new federal benefit, don't worry about how to pay for it. Today, GOP incumbents are more worried about fending off primary challenges from the right, like the one Grassley may face in 2010, or being called traitors by Rush Limbaugh. But what happened the last time they were in charge gives the lie to their claim that they object to expanding government. They only object to expanding government in a way that doesn't help them get re-elected.

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