More GOP Hypocrisies-Medicare and Clarence Thomas
Two short items to comment on today, both classified as GOP or Bush hypocrisies.
First, I have not commented at all on the ongoing debate about a Medicare drug benefit. I think people are underestimating Ted Kennedy when they express their anger that he is “selling out” on this issue by pushing a compromise that some feel takes the potent issue off the table for next year’s campaign. Kennedy knows exactly what he is doing. He has said repeatedly that this is only an incremental, first step solution. He rightfully so has said that Democrats need to learn from the 1994 Clinton health care reform debacle to seek victories in health care policy in incremental ways, and not overshoot. Kennedy is only following George Bush’s own strategy of getting what he can and call it a victory, while continually pushing the ball forward, like Bush does on tax cuts. Kennedy has told everyone who would listen that he plans to introduce a bill right after this year’s bill is signed to seek more coverage and close the gaps left behind by this year’s bill.
This is shrewd not only because it makes political sense, but also for what I think Kennedy’s unspoken approach is based on: an assumption that by stating he will come back for more right away it will drive the conservatives in the GOP to kill the bill outright in the House. In the end, the Democrats will still have their issue, but only with Tom DeLay’s fingerprints all over it, and with Bush’s inability or unwillingness to deliver out there for everyone to see. It destroys Bush’s opportunity to say he supported it when the Democrats can show he didn't care enough to get his party to go along. Again, Tom DeLay doesn't have to do any favors for Karl Rove here.
It will also help the Dems to make the case that GOP control of the Congress and presidency isn’t helping the average senior. The issue is being made as I write, in that the GOP’s conservatives in both houses are repudiating Bush and working (as Kennedy probably quietly suspected they would) to oppose the compromise bill, with the House GOP probably killing it when it gets over there.
Along these lines, the Democrats were shot down in several efforts yesterday to close the coverage gaps in the compromise bill. Why? Because the GOP said the country could not afford an additional $64 billion over ten years to close the gaps.
In other words, for $6.4 billion a year in a multi-trillion dollar annual federal budget, the GOP said we couldn’t afford it. Why is this a killer for the GOP next year? Because $6.4 billion is what we spend in Iraq for two months. So the choice the GOP has made is either effective Medicare drug coverage for seniors or two months of paying the Iraq bill while our troops are dodging bullets and bombs. Even I can shoot that TV commercial right now.
My second GOP hypocrisy is of course Clarence Thomas’s dissent in the Michigan Law School affirmative action case. A man who is where he is as a result of his skin color comes out against affirmative action for others. Maureen Dowd in the New Your Times today lit up Thomas for his “I got mine and forget yours” approach.