Thursday, September 17, 2009

Collins Health Big Picture

Watching Sen. Collins talk about health care reform over the last several weeks, it's been hard to suppress a snarky, sarcastic response to her maneuverings. We've certainly been guilty of our share of snide comments.

But it's important not to get desensitized to the staggering hypocrisy of her behavior here.

Remember, the basic thrust of Collins' position on reform is that the legislation making its way through Congress is too expensive.

To drive that point home, she's repeatedly cited a $1.6 trillion ten-year price tag, even though it's long been clear that the package would be much smaller. And her worries about cost aren't easy to square with her position, during last year's campaign, that the Obama health care plan was "pretty good"--and that she was open to supporting it.

But obfuscation and bad faith are really the least of her sins here.

Rather, what's shocking and unforgivable about the junior senator's approach to health care--and what's gone totally unreported both in Maine and in the national media--isn't so much the substance of her critique as its context.

Because while the junior senator now wants us to believe that she's spooked about governmental red ink, her record doesn't just suggest otherwise. It screams otherwise.

Susan Collins, after all, voted for all three Bush tax cuts. She voted for Medicare Part D.

The combined ten-year cost of these four laws is more than three trillion dollars. ($2.1 trillion for tax cuts plus $1.0 trillion for Medicare Part D.)

Health care reform, by contrast, is expected to clock in at less than one-third as much.

What's more, while none of the Bush-era programs were paid for with cuts elsewhere in the budget, President Obama has publicly vowed, in a nationally-televised address, that if health care legislation increases the deficit he will not sign it.

In the context of these facts, the questions practically write themselves: If Collins is so worried about deficits and the debt, where were these worries when she and her GOP colleagues were doling out huge tax breaks to billionaires?

If red ink is such a big issue, why did she vote for a large, unfunded new health care entitlement program just a few years ago? Why does she oppose, on budgetary grounds, a reform package that pays for itself?

And why the fixation on fiscal prudence only after running up trillions of dollars in public debt?

There's simply no way to have a serious, candid discussion about what Collins has been up to lately without facing up to these questions.

Sure would be nice if someone would ask them.


Bruce Bourgoine said...

Maybe it's a different bit of fiscal security that she's concerned about as mentioned in this 7/17/09 piece.

"Sen. Susan Collins raised $1,559,446 from the health and insurance sectors over the course of her career. Her first day in office was January 7, 1997. In total, she has served 4,574 days as a United States Senator. This calculates out to her raising $341 every day from the health and insurance sectors."

Andre said...

That's pretty sickening. I wonder how many sick people were denied coverage by the insurance companies so they could afford to give the Senator her $ 341 dollars a day, times 4574 days for her 1.5 take. I would say that would buy a lot of chemotheraphy, and a few liver transplants. Why aren't the Maine media asking these questions?