Twitter posts by Sen. David Vitter, the Louisiana Republican who crossed party lines to help Dem Sen. Barbara Milkulski make the Senate health bill more palatable, tell this sad story:

Earlier on Dec. 3

Passed my amdt that will block recent government recommendations of restrictive mammograms from going into effect

Later on Dec. 3

Senate…bill cuts almost half a TRILLION $$ from Medicare for seniors.I just voted for a McCain amdt to remove Medicare cuts.

See? When you try to help out the Democrats, no good deed goes unpunished.

Sadly, Vitter’s a great guy on all the issues that the libertarian/conservative base of the Republican Party supports: lower taxes, no money-wasting “stimulus” programs, domestic oil-drilling, gun rights, you name it.

And his successful move to beef up Mikulski’s amendment by adding a mandate for insurance coverage of early and frequent breast-cancer screening sprang from family experience with breast cancer’s devastation:

Vitter said he didn’t think Mikulski’s amendment was specific enough to ensure that women can get their insurance providers to cover tests for breast cancer. He described the issue in very personal terms, noting that his wife, Wendy, lost her mother, Bea Baldwin, to breast cancer in 1967. Baldwin was 39 and her daughter was only 6.

As a breast-cancer survivor myself who credits a routine annual mammogram (annual! get that?) with detecting and facilitating the successful (so far) removal of some early-stage carcinomas in 2006, I can sympathize deeply, not only with Wendy Vitter’s tragedy but with David Vitter’s concerns. I also have nothing but contempt for Barbara Ehrenreich’s declaration that American women’s outrage over possible screening cutbacks amounts to nothing more than “pink-ribbon” hysteria–as well as her bewilderment that most women aren’t as fired up as she is about the Stupak amendment’s assurance that taxpayers won’t have to subsidize her favorite surgical procedure, abortion.

I understand the fears of Vitter and others that the cost-based rationing of treatment that is inevitable if the government takes over healthcare delivery will result in less frequent breast screenings, as has happened in Britain, whose National Health Service pays for mammograms only every three years and whose breast-cancer survival rates are far lower than in the U.S.

But Sen. Vitter, all you gained by putting your name on yet another expensive insurance mandate in a Democratic-backed bill that’s already going to cost either $1 trillion or $5 trillion, depending on how you look at it, was….yet another expensive mandate. Along with the usual nastiness from liberals who think you’re a male chauvinist pig anyway.  You and your fellow Senate Republicans got scarcely any Dem backing for your efforts to prevent America’s old folks (mostly women, by the way) from having to pay the price for that bill to the tune of half a trillion dollars’ worth of discomfort, pain, and earlier deaths.

It wasn’t worth it, Senator. Don’t compound your family’s personal tragedy by helping to inflict a far worse tragedy on all Americans by burdening them with a monstrous piece of legislation that they, their children, and their grandchildren will be paying for with higher taxes and worse medical care for generations to come.