So it turns out that versus the status quo, the just-passed Senate health bill saves $132 billion over the next 10 years according to the independent Congressional Budget Office (CBO). (You can read the report here.) It also covers 31 million more Americans than the status quo.

If true, the GOP deficit hawks—amazingly silent while Bush was in power—need a new reason to oppose health care coverage. How many so-call deficit hawks voted for Bush’s tax cuts for the rich or for the hideous Medicare Part D expansion? Luckily, it turns out that the Part D expansion has been significantly less expensive, only about a third the cost of the projected $634 billion price tag, but no one knew that at the time and GOPers voted for it en mass despite the deficits it created.

(An additional problem was that it barred Medicare from negotiating prices with the drug companies. The Veterans Administration, who has a formulary and can negotiate, pays an average of 58% less for the same drugs. Factoid helpful in understanding why: Bush Administration advocates joined the pharmaceutical lobby shortly after the bill passed.)

If you want a terrible healthcare bill that was one, the GOP loved it.

So the Bush years were very instructive politically about who really stands for what and today’s GOP is even worse in that respect, not better.

Remember the “death panels” back in August? Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, and Fox news wouldn’t shut up about them. So effectively hospice care came under attack and if I’m not mistaken had to ultimately be stripped from the House bill. That is today’s GOP, and they’re getting worse not better as the moderates continue to be purged from their ranks.

(I’m not the first one to make this point, but present day “death panels” are in the insurance industry who deny coverage for preexisting conditions, who disallow treatment on whatever grounds, and who cap coverage to save themselves money. If nothing else, the Democratic healthcare reforms are an attack on these practices but don’t expect GOP support.)

Even crappy legislation is palatable once you realize that the status quo is worse and will be much worse still. Similarly, even the Democrats are palatable once you realize that the GOP had no problem with any type of power—be it deficit spending, spying on Americans or literally torturing people—as long as they’re the ones at the levers. That alone makes reflexively opposed to whatever the GOP favors and favor whatever they oppose.

[You can review the current legislation, including criticisms of the legislation, at the Wikipedia page for the Affordable Healthcare for America Act.]