Bruce Bartlett made that argument a few weeks ago in Forbes, and he has a point.
President Bush was elected in 2000 on a platform of “compassionate conservatism.” In practice, this meant conservative tax cuts and big-spending “compassion.” When you put tax cuts and massive spending increases together, you greatly increase the size of the deficit and, eventually, the national debt (though it must be said that the Bush-era deficits look tiny in comparison to the monstrous deficits in the era of hope and change).
The worst element of that spending binge came in 2003, when the GOP-controlled Congress passed a massive expansion of Medicare — a new prescription drug benefit that created an entitlement out of thin air and vastly expanded the size of the welfare state.
Now, Medicare is, by itself, a truly repulsive program. The federal government taxes me and other young people and gives the money to the elderly. Institutionalized age discrimination by robbing the young to give to the old is terrible policy, but the prescription drug bill made it much worse by effectively taxing my grandchildren.
Among the many Republicans voting for this budget-buster were Louisiana Congressmen Rodney Alexander and David Vitter. As Bartlett points out,
Just to be clear, the Medicare drug benefit was a pure giveaway with a gross cost greater than either the House or Senate health reform bills how being considered. Together the new bills would cost roughly $900 billion over the next 10 years, while Medicare Part D will cost $1 trillion.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I support Rep. Alexander and Sen. Vitter, and I’ve contributed to Sen. Vitter’s reelection campaign this year because I think he’s done a great job. But I wonder if they would defend those votes today as they rightly attack Obamacare. I would hope they could say, “I made a mistake.”