I’m trying very hard to think optimistically about this, but I’m having a lot of trouble.
At first glance, it seems like a disaster. And things like this worry me a great deal. It seems like the best Republicans, those who take the rhetoric about limited government seriously, are being punished by the unprincipled politicians (including Bush) who are more concerned about their next election than the general welfare.
Ok, here’s my most optimistic theory about what the Republicans are thinking, but not saying:
It’s vital to the national interest (security, economy, judiciary, etc.) for Republicans to maintain power for the next four years. Passing this bill, while bad, is necessary to help make that happen because it takes the issue away from the Democrats. And, if the Democrats do manage to gain power, they would surely pass a much worse bill. So, of the only two feasible possibilities this is the better one.
Does that make any sense?
I guess another possibile consideration is that they delayed the benefits until 2006 so that they might have time to declare that it turns out to just be too expensive and repeal it before that becomes nearly impossible. But, I think I’m really dreaming with that one.