Last week, Washington Post reporter Perry Bacon suggested GOP Sen. George Voinovich would vote against health care reform because he is a "strong fiscal conservative." As I noted at the time, that's an odd use of the label "fiscal conservative," given that health care reform would, according to the Congressional Budget Office, reduce the deficit.
Well, today, a Post reader asked Bacon about that:
I didn't understand you last week: Perry, in last week's chat there was a strange back-and-forth & wondered if you might clarify it for us today? Here goes:
"Arlington, VA: Of all the Senators, only Voinowich of Ohio, a Republican, did not vote. As he voted on other legislation that day, could the non-vote indicate that he might be supportive of the health care bill?
Perry Bacon Jr.: I'm pretty sure he will be a no, he's retiring, but known as a strong fiscal conservative."
But the CBO says the Senate health care bill would actually - reduce - the deficit, so why does being a "strong fiscal conservative" make Voinovich likely to vote - against - legislation that would reduce the deficit.
Do you really think a strong "fiscal conservative" has any business voting against deficit-reducing health care reform measures?
washingtonpost.com: Post Politics: Senate brings health-care bill to floor
Perry Bacon Jr.: I suspect Voinovich will say the bill costs almost $1 trillion a year* and shouldn't be passed. This is the GOP view of the bill. I will let everyone define fiscal conservative on their own.
Oh, come on. Perry Bacon introduced the phrase "fiscal conservative" to the discussion, offering it up as a reason why someone would vote against the bill. And now he says everyone can define it for themselves? What an absurd cop-out.
Bacon owns the phrase. He should tell us what he meant by it, and explain why fiscal conservatives oppose things that reduce the deficit (and, in doing so, consider what that says about fiscal conservatives' anti-deficit rhetoric), or he should simply say that he screwed up and shouldn't have used the phrase. But he can't use the label as an explanation for Voinovich's vote, then pretend it isn't his responsibility to define the label.
* As Bacon later acknowledged, "$1 trillion a year" is obviously false.