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Posted by on Aug 13, 2009 in Economy, Health, Media, Politics, Society | 25 comments

Not Feeling Depressed Enough?

We can fix that problem. First, watch Katy Abram (the woman who told Arlen Specter that she didn’t want the U.S. turned into Russia) being interviewed by Lawrence O’Donnell. Abram appears very nervous, and rightfully so, because she reveals the cavernous depths of her ignorance every time she opens her mouth. And mind you, this is with an interviewer who, although he is asking good, substantive questions, is clearly holding himself back from demolishing her, since she is a private citizen and not a media pundit or a politician.

If this doesn’t make you want to crawl into bed and pull the covers over your head, read all about how Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) succeeded in getting Democrats on the House Finance Committee to agree to pull the fraudulently controversial end-of-life counseling provision from the “compromise” bill — after which, for good measure, he blamed Democrats for said fraudulent controversy:

A day after Patron Saint of Bipartisanship Chuck Grassley seemed to lend support to Sarah Palin’s “death panel” claims, the Senator confirmed that the end of life provision has been dropped from the Senate Finance compromise bill because, he said, it could be “misinterpreted and implemented incorrectly.”

Not only that, but he also directly attacked the House Dem proposal by floating the idea that it leaves end of life issues “open to interpretation.” Here’s Grassley’s statement:

“The bill passed by the House committees is so poorly cobbled together that it will have all kinds of unintended consequences, including making taxpayers fund health care subsidies for illegal immigrants. On the end-of-life issue, there’s a big difference between a simple educational campaign, as some advocates want, and the way the House committee-passed bill pays physicians to advise patients about end of life care and rates physician quality of care based on the creation of and adherence to orders for end-of-life care, while at the same time creating a government-run program that is likely to lead to the rationing of care for everyone.

“On the Finance Committee, we are working very hard to avoid unintended consequences by methodically working through the complexities of all of these issues and policy options. That methodical approach continues. We dropped end-of-life provisions from consideration entirely because of the way they could be misinterpreted and implemented incorrectly. Maybe others can defend a bill like the Pelosi bill that leaves major issues open to interpretation, but I can’t.”

This is how “bipartisanship” and “compromise” work on health care reform: Far right Republican lawmakers and media stars engage in hysterical tantrums about provisions that either don’t exist or don’t say what the screaming toddlers claim they do — encouraging (at times coming close to inciting) irrational anger and fear in large numbers of Americans who are profoundly, dangerously uninformed about politics, government, and current events — and then use the public uproar that they themselves have manufactured to kill the provisions:

WHEN IN DOUBT, GIVE THE MOB WHAT IT WANTS…. It’s easy to mock the insane rhetoric about “death panels,” but let’s not forget that right-wing activists, by screaming about an imaginary threat, are getting exactly what they want.

Tucked inside a sweeping House bill to overhaul the health system is a provision that would require Medicare to pay physicians to counsel patients once every five years. During those sessions, doctors could discuss how patients can plan for such end-of-life decisions as setting up a living will, obtaining hospice care or establishing a proxy to make their health decisions when they are unable to do so. […]

[G]rowing complaints over the provision are leading key lawmakers to conclude that the health overhaul should leave out any end-of-life counseling provisions. A group in the Senate Finance Committee that is attempting to craft Congress’s only bipartisan health bill has decided to exclude such a measure, Senate aides said this week. [emphasis added]

Up until very recently, this provision was a common-sense idea that enjoyed bipartisan support. It would help seniors and their families plan for end-of-life care; it would help guide physicians and doctors; it would help save taxpayers money; and it would help honor patients’ wishes. Even insurance companies are fine with it.

But after a right-wing temper tantrum, based on confusion and lies, lawmakers are prepared to dump the idea altogether.

Who wins? Unhinged activists, who are effectively being told that they’ll get their way if they scream loud enough. Who loses? Everyone else.