This Senate vote on the 2006 fiscal budget is not interesting only because of the Republican breaking of ranks on the Medicaid cutbacks but also because some Republicans really are Democrats and some Democrats are Republicans.
Take Olympia Snowe, for example. She would be considered as an extreme lefty in places such as Louisiana. Mary Landrieu would probably be regarded a wingnut in New England. It's funny to note how some of these misplaced politicians vote:
The income tax break for Social Security benefits was a Republican initiative sponsored by Jim Bunning of Kentucky.
Five Democrats — Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, Bill Nelson of Florida, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Ken Salazar of Colorado — voted for the tax rollback, and a like number of Republicans — Chafee, Snowe, Pete V. Domenici of New Mexico, Ted Stevens of Alaska and George V. Voinovich of Ohio — voted against it.
All politics is local, perhaps, but this does cause some weird coalitions on the national level. Of course, the extremist wingnuts are trying to get rid of all moderate Republicans. If they are successful such odd couplings will probably end.
The Senate vote on the budget caused a lot of havoc for any attempts to control the budget deficit, mostly by gettting rid of the cuts that were planned in the Medicaid program. This program funds some of the health care for the poorest families in the country, and cutting it in order to accommodate the tax cuts for the wealty looked a little...un-Christian. But not to worry, the final reconciliation bill could still include the Medicaid cuts. Like a sleight of hand.