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James Taranto: ‘Death Panels’ Revisited





Ever since Governor Palin coined the term "death panels" as a metaphor to describe the inevitable rationing which must occur under Obamacare, the Left has bent over backwards to insist that she was, at best, wrong and, at worst, lying. Today James Taranto has written a comprehensive refudiation of this false narrative which has been pushed by the Democrat Party, their allies in the media, and even a few ill-informed Republicans who should know better:

"At a time when there is virtually unanimous agreement that health care reform is needed in this country, it is hard to invalidate and strike down a statute titled ‘The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,’ " Judge Roger Vinson observed Monday in his ruling in Florida v. HHS, which did just that.

It would have been a lot harder had ObamaCare enjoyed wide political support. But it did not and does not. Americans never bought the bill of goods that Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and their supporters in the formerly mainstream media tried to sell. A good deal of the credit goes to Sarah Palin, for coining the phrase "death panel" in an August 2009 Facebook post.

Four months later PolitiFact.com, a project of the left-leaning St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, named the phrase "lie of the year":

Her assertion–that the government would set up boards to determine whether seniors and the disabled were worthy of care–spread through newscasts, talk shows, blogs and town hall meetings. Opponents of health care legislation said it revealed the real goals of the Democratic proposals. Advocates for health reform said it showed the depths to which their opponents would sink. Still others scratched their heads and said, "Death panels? Really?"

In truth, PolitiFact was more vulnerable to the charge of lying than Palin was, for its highly literal, out-of-context interpretation of her words was at best extremely tendentious. What she wrote was this:

The Democrats promise that a government health care system will reduce the cost of health care, but as the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost. And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. 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" so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their "level of productivity in society," whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

Palin put the term "death panel" in quotes to indicate that she was using it figuratively. She was not lying but doing just the opposite: conveying a fundamental truth about ObamaCare. Proponents were describing it as a sort of fiscal perpetual-motion machine: We’re going to give free insurance to tens of millions of people and reduce the deficit! As a matter of simple arithmetic, the only way to do that is by drastically curtailing medical benefits.

Read the entire piece here.



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