MSNBC's Rachel Maddow believes she has found the smoking gun proving Republicans' hypocrisy on health care and the budget deficit: an admission by Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch that, during the Bush administration, "it was standard practice not to pay for things."
"Every single Republican opposed the health reform bill when it was voted on on Christmas Eve, and that includes the 24 Republicans who voted for George Bush's Medicare prescription-drug expansion in 2003," Maddow said on her show Monday night. "Now that expansion in 2003, unlike the reform bill that's being currently debated, added tens of billions of dollars to the deficit. And this makes for some awkward politics, because many Republicans are citing worries about the deficit as their reason for voting against health reform now."
The host of The Rachel Maddow Show then quoted Sen. Hatch, who told the Associated Press that, when the Medicare expansion was passed in 2003, "it was standard practice not to pay for things." The AP reported:
Some Republicans say they don't believe the CBO's projections that the health care overhaul will pay for itself. As for their newfound worries about big government health expansions, they essentially say: That was then, this is now.
Six years ago, "it was standard practice not to pay for things," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. "We were concerned about it, because it certainly added to the deficit, no question." His 2003 vote has been vindicated, Hatch said, because the prescription drug benefit "has done a lot of good."
The inconsistency — or hypocrisy, as some call it — has irked Democrats, who claim that their plan will pay for itself with higher taxes and spending cuts and cite the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office for support.
By contrast, when Republicans controlled the House, Senate and White House in 2003, they overcame Democratic opposition to add a deficit-financed prescription drug benefit to Medicare. The program will cost a half-trillion dollars over 10 years, or more by some estimates.
"This is going to make the 2010 campaign so much simpler," Maddow quipped.
This video is from MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Dec. 28, 2009.