The GOP is trying to get voters to forget their fiscal recklessness over the last eight years. And the conservative media - which is sadly far too often just a partisan mouthpiece - is helping the amnesia along. One of the few principled fiscal conservatives in the Bush-Cheney years. Bruce Bartlett, is refusing to forget. He tells a classic tale of one Republican, Trent Franks of Arizona. Here is what Franks is now saying about the health insurance reform in the Congress:

"I would remind my Democratic colleagues that their children, and every generation thereafter, will bear the burden caused by this bill. They will be the ones asked to pay off the incredible debt," Franks declared on Nov. 7.

So what was Franks' position on Medicare D? He voted for it, after some of the most egregious Congressional arm-twisting in memory (so egregious Rove et al extended debate for three hours and turned off the C-Span cameras). What is the difference between Medicare D and the current health insurance proposal? You guessed it:

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.

Moreover, there is a critical distinction--the drug benefit had no dedicated financing, no offsets and no revenue-raisers; 100% of the cost simply added to the federal budget deficit, whereas the health reform measures now being debated will be paid for with a combination of spending cuts and tax increases, adding nothing to the deficit over the next 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. (See here for the Senate bill estimate and here for the House bill.)

The fantastic hypocrisy of today's Republicans - their refusal to come to terms with their own responsibility for the current fiscal crisis, their attempt to project their own profligacy onto a new administration struggling with one of the toughest economic legacies of any White House since Reagan - makes me ill. And how a man like Karl Rove can go on television complaining about the debt boggles the mind.

Well: it doesn't boggle the mind as long as you accept that he is a principle-free, ends-over-means tool.

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