What Susan Collins's explanations don't explain
It's telling, I think, that in an op-ed explaining why she doesn't support the Senate health bill, Susan Collins cherrypicks numbers from CMS, which make the bill seem like it costs a lot of money, rather than using the more traditional numbers from the CBO, which imply that the bill saves money. It's also a hard rationale to believe, given that Collins supported the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit, which not only increased spending by more than $400 billion, but paid for it by adding to the deficit.
One of the difficulties in trying to understand a politician's motives is that anyone can come up with plausible reasons to support this bill or oppose that legislation. Those reasons are probably even honest, at least to the person offering them. But for all that, you'd come up with a much better model for predicting Collins's votes by asking whether a Democrat or a Republican was behind the health-care bill than you would by asking whether the bill in question was fiscally responsible. And that's true for most legislators. Policy matters, but not nearly as much as party does.
February 2, 2010; 2:05 PM ET
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