Monday, December 27, 2010

Told You So Moment 2 (Maybe)

I'm mostly elsewhere this week (come visit me over at Greg Sargent's Plum Line), but I couldn't let this one pass, and I think it's more appropriate here than elsewhere...

Way back when I had only been around here for about three weeks or so, I made a prediction:
[H]ere's what's going to happen. They're going to avoid taking votes on this thing while the crazy is going on. Then, later in the game, perhaps in conference, they'll stick it back in. They'll do it quietly, and they'll be prepared with a story about how the new language prevents the stuff that, of course, was never in the old language to begin with. Worst case: they leave the damn thing out of the bill, and then go back next year and either pass it as a stand-alone or stick it in some other bill.
Now, I've already claimed "told you so" on this once, when it was in the House bill, and that didn't work out, so I'm awfully hesitant to claim "told you so" again without heavy qualification: I have no way of knowing whether it's going to happen now or not.  And, to be fair, I didn't say anything originally about it being done by regulation, not legislation, which is (as the NYT reports) what may be about to happen.  Still...

The original item wasn't so much about the substance of end-of-life counseling, but about despair from liberals about American institutions at the prospect of a provision failing not because of serious, substantive opposition, but because of a Sarah Palin tweet.  At the time, my reaction was: don't worry; if this is really as uncontroversial as everyone seems to think, then it'll probably get enacted sooner rather than later.  Well, I was wrong about 2009, and wrong about 2010, but it's looking more likely for 2011.  I don't know if that's good enough to convince skeptics that the American political system isn't completely dysfunctional, but, well, it's something, right?  If it happens, that is.

6 comments:

  1. It's a pet peeve of mine that most people seem to misunderstand the history of this. When Sarah Palin first used the 'death panels' phrase, she wasn't talking about end-of-life counseling. (Look it up.)

    Before that moment, other Republican critics of the legislation had raised issues about EOLC. It seems some critics of Palin, or maybe just some journalists, conflated EOLC with 'death panels'. When Palin was asked about it, she responded by defending the arguments of her fellow Republicans. This cemented the association.

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  2. But Boehner did take up the chant, calling it "government-endorsed euthanasia."

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  3. David:
    What exactly was Palin attacking with her "death panel" post then?

    I tried the google, but "death panel = EOLC" is just about all the top hits.

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  4. Palin's "death panel" claim, as I understand it, was that the bill's attempts at cost reduction would lead to rationing, with bureaucrats choosing to sacrifice those they regarded as less valued, the elderly and the disabled.

    The end-of-life counseling claim actually was started earlier, by Betsy McCaughey. It is closely related to Palin's claim, but slightly milder. Both claims conjure up a group of bureaucrats holding the lives of the elderly in their hands, but McCaughey merely claimed they would put pressure on old people to end their lives sooner.

    McCaughey had to resign from her position at a medical supplies company due to the controversy. Some people attribute her resignation to an appearance on Jon Stewart in which she was unable to substantiate her claims about the bill after Stewart challenged her to.

    Go here for Wikipedia's description of the controversy. Here is Wikipedia's article on McCaughey. Politifact awarded Palin's "death panels" claim "Lie of the Year" at the end of 2009, and here is their debunking of McCaughey's earlier claim. For her two-part appearance on Stewart (it's long), go here and here.

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  5. @Matt Jarvis

    I googled 'Palin death panels', and the fifth hit was a Huffpo piece that led, through a couple of links, to the full text of Palin's Facebook 'Statement on the Current Health Care Debate' of August 7, 2009.

    (I just discovered my spellchecker doesn't know 'Facebook' is a word.)

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  6. I just glanced at Bernstein's post and noticed that he attributes 'death panels' to 'a Sarah Palin tweet'. It was actually a five paragraph Facebook post. Was Palin even using Twitter in August of 2009?

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