Before they were Palinized — and turned into those nasty death panels ready to pounce on Grandma (that “goofy stuff,” as he now calls it), Congressman Earl Blumenauer had a good idea: help people prepare for the end of life.
As he wrote in The New York Times last weekend, the proposition was simple: “I found it perverse that Medicare would pay for almost any medical procedure, yet not reimburse doctors for having a thoughtful conversation to prepare patients and families for the delicate, complex and emotionally demanding decisions surrounding the end of life.”
So, when he began work on health care reform, he included a provision that would allow Medicare to cover a voluntary doctor-patient discussion (only once every five years) about things like living wills, power of attorney and end-of-life treatment.
Oh, the horror.
Congressman Blumenauer and his subversive transportation
Talk radio quickly got wind of the proposal when ex-New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey excoriated the measure as a depraved idea that would somehow counsel people to just go ahead and die faster. The absurd notion metastasized. And since Congress is the great lagging indicator, the bizarre interpretation predictably headed toward the floor of the two Houses. Republican leaders were unwilling to balk at a juicy opportunity to fan the flames — even though the fire was fake. They courageously took on this great cause.
Soon after, the resulting Sarah Palin Facebook post was heard ’round the world: “The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel.’ … Such a system is downright evil.”
And none other than the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, Chuck Grassley, was seen on YouTube telling angry constituents, “We should not have a government program that determines if you’re going to pull the plug on Grandma.”
Rep. Blumenauer may be a liberal — he calls himself “progressive” — but that doesn’t mean he looks like a guy out to hurt your grandparents. He rides his bike to work and back to promote his environmental agenda; he’s joined with Republicans to fight wasteful government spending.
But his health care story has become a profoundly cautionary tale about our political discourse — and how it has grown increasingly degraded and infected by a combination of combustive politics, a needy media food chain and a hopelessly partisan Congress. “It’s beyond depressing,” he says. “… I am disappointed in ways that are hard to describe.”
RTFA. The Dems may generally be spineless; but, the Republican Party – as presently constituted – relies on lies and deceit, corrupt ideology more than it did over the recent eight years of incompetence.
If I wasn’t cynical about America’s high watermark for ignorance I guess I wouldn’t worry. But, between the bible-belt brigadistas, reborn tinhorn militias and this year’s teabag version of the white citizens’ councils – the amount of noise spewing from the Right might count for something among the dull-normals who think they’re “independents” because they’re too lazy to register for partisan primaries.