In the Arena

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Matt Yglesias does good service by reminding us of the 2003 Senate vote on Medicare Part D, the budget-busting prescription drugs for seniors bill that passed the Senate 54-44, even though it wasn’t paid for (it adds trillions to the deficit over time). Here’s the vote: it is interesting to note that the two Gang of Six members who are the most prominent naysayers and budget hawks on the Senate Finance Committee now, Chuck Grassley and Mike Enzi, voted for the bill. As did assorted other noisy conservatives like Sam Brownback, John Cornyn and John Kyl. What irresponsible spendthrifts!

Republicans who actually are deficit hawks–John McCain (usually) and Lindsey Graham, for example–voted against it. Many Democrats–Ted Kennedy, Russ Feingold, Hillary Clinton–also voted against it, mostly because they didn’t think it provided sufficient coverage (and let the drug companies off the hook).

But the headline remain grousers like Grassley, who oppose the alleged expense of the Obama plan now (even though the President has vowed not to sign a bill that isn’t, more or less, paid for). It should be noted that Max Baucus–who has also made non-stop noises about fiscal responsibility–voted for it, too.

More on Grassley: Todd Gitlin reports that Grassley was silent when a town meeting nutter called the President a Nazi and said he wanted to kill him. The Senator from Iowa is making a first-class fool of himself these days.