In 2003, when the Bush administration was already projecting a budget deficit of $475 billion in fiscal year 2004, the Republican-controlled Congress passed a Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit that raised the deficit by $395 billion between 2004 and 2013. Despite enacting a massive, unpaid for entitlement expansion while in power, Republicans have attacked the cost of health care reform sought by President Obama and Democrats in Congress — even though the bill with the best chance of passage would reduce the deficit by $132 billion over 10 years and by $1.3 trillion over 20 years.
On MSNBC today, Andrea Mitchell pressed Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) on the hypocrisy of Republicans all of a sudden getting religion “about paying for everything.” Hatch replied that it “wasn’t right” that they didn’t pay for the legislation, but it was understandable because they were “trying to solve a problem for millions of millions of Americans”:
HATCH: Well, in those days, a lot of things weren’t paid for and that wasn’t right. I have to admit that. On the other hand, we were trying to solve a problem for millions of millions of Americans who were unable to get their drugs.
MITCHELL: Well so are the supporters of expanding health care coverage.
HATCH: Yeah, but there’s a difference between trying to help senior citizens, who really can’t afford drugs and doing something that effects every American in the United States of America and many people who don’t belong in the United States of America. And do it in a way that even the, even the actuaries of the current administration admit would be not only costly, but put us into tremendous debt. So there’s a real difference between two.
Hatch said that he wished Republicans “hadn’t done that in the sense of not paying for it,” but he claimed that was because they didn’t have a “fiscal conservative majority in the Senate.” Hatch did admit that Democrats were “at least they’re trying to” pay for their legislation. Watch it:
This isn’t the first time Hatch has admitted the GOP’s politically convenient inconsistency on paying for proposals. In Dec. 2009, Hatch told the AP that “it was standard practice not to pay for things” six years ago. “It certainly added to the deficit, no question,” said Hatch, claiming that the fiscally irresponsible bill had been vindicated because it “has done a lot of good.”
It’s odd for Hatch to defend the prescription drug bill by saying it tried to “solve a problem for millions and millions of Americans” and did “a lot of good” in that direction while rejecting a paid for health care reform bill that will reduce the deficit, extend coverage to 31 million Americans who are currently uninsured, and lower premiums for the overall population by 8.4 percent.