2009/08/16

Obama is losing me on health care

Okay, so first the former Republican Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, goes onto her Facebook page (Signing up to Facebook is free, but link not available to non-Facebook members) on 7 August and delivers a completely insane rant about "Death Panels" (PolitiFact examines the charge and finds it to be completely without merit). Something to do with bureaucrats sitting at desks deciding on the basis of spreadsheet projections or somesuch whether a loved relative, whether a new-born child or a great-grandparent, should live or die. This talking point is actually not brand new. It actually goes back a few months. Okay, fine.

Then Palin doubles down on that obviously dishonest and thoroughly inaccurate point. In the meantime, other Republican spokespeople, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly join her. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) made a very similar point about how the health care bill would set a "ceiling" (Set of maximum benefits) on health care when, actually, the bill would set a "floor" (Set of minimum benefits). He claimed that the bill would "lead" to rationing, ignoring the fact that private insurance already enforces rationing. The complete and utter hypocrisy Republicans bring to the health care issue is just astounding. Again, fine, okay. All this is to be expected. No biggie.

Then Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) decides that Palin's "death panel" nonsense is serious and opines that

"There is some fear because in the House bill, there is counseling for end-of-life," Grassley said. "And from that standpoint, you have every right to fear. You shouldn't have counseling at the end of life. You ought to have counseling 20 years before you're going to die. You ought to plan these things out. And I don't have any problem with things like living wills. But they ought to be done within the family. We should not have a government program that determines if you're going to pull the plug on grandma."

Of course, getting counseling for how to handle end-of-life decisions should be done as far in advance as possible. Is that always practical? Is that something that people are prepared to discuss years before it's necessary? Not in all cases, obviously. There's absolutely zero evidence that anybody has ever been plotting to "pull the plug on grandma." That's nothing more than zany, unhinged scare talk.

But okay, fine. Grassley's a Republican and everyone knows that Republicans hate the American citizen and that the Finance Committee is dominated by Blue Dog Democrats who don't like the American citizen much better.

...it was a rebellion by the largely rural "blue dog" Democrats on Waxman's committee that held up the bill. Their complaint: The bill was too expensive and there wasn't enough money in it for their districts. And so they held things up, long enough to prevent a vote before the start of the August recess, wrecking President Obama's timetable.

The real problem started with Obama's reaction to Grassley's lunatic statement. Press secretary Robert Gibbs said that

the White House remained committed to working with Republicans to get health care reform passed.

to which the blogger Digby replied:

It's an unusual strategy. I've rarely found it to be very effective to try to negotiate in good faith with lunatic demagogues, but maybe it can work.

I certainly hope so, because if it doesn't somebody is going to have a reputation for being a weak little chump. And it isn't going to be Grassley.

Unfortunately, it appears that Palin's insane demagoguery might be having an effect. Or, more likely, people who were never serious about health care reform in the first place are complaining that their arms are being twisted. Very unfortunately, it's now looking like the Obama Administration will drop the Public Option entirely. Sorry, but a public option is absolutely necessary. I completely agree that Single Payer would be better, but there's simply no way that a health plan without at least the Public Option will work.

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