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.
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.