TPM News

RNC Chairman Michael Steel now seems to be fully embracing the death panel talk, with a new column in the Washington Post promoting a Republican proposal called a "Seniors' Health Care Bill of Rights," which will prevent the government from killing grandma:

Third, we need to outlaw any effort to ration health care based on age. Obama has promoted a program of "comparative effectiveness research" that he claims will be used only to study competing medical treatments. But this program could actually lead to government boards rationing treatments based on age. For example, if there are going to be only so many heart surgeries in a given year, the Democrats figure government will get more bang for its buck if more young and middle-aged people get them.

Fourth, we need to prevent government from dictating the terms of end-of-life care. Many of the most significant costs of care come in the last six months of a patient's life, and every American household must consider how to treat their loved ones. Obama's government-run health "reform" would pay for seniors' meetings with a doctor to discuss end-of-life care. While nonthreatening at first, something that is quite normal for a family to do becomes troublesome when the government gets involved. Seniors know that government programs that seem benign at first can become anything but. The government should simply butt out of conversations about end-of-life care and leave them to seniors, their families and their doctors.

Late Update: For more on the GOP's Seniors' Health Care Bill of Rights, click here for the RNC's official release.

After fruitlessly seeking a bipartisan compromise on health care reform for months, the White House seems to have finally realized that Republicans have no interest in compromising and that progressives are fed up with making nice. Now, the administration is preparing to go it alone, even if that means passing reform on a straight party-line vote.

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, and even President Obama himself have all suggested that they don't think the GOP is serious about reaching a bipartisan health care reform compromise--and with key Republicans suggesting that they'll vote against a bill that doesn't also have the support of a majority of their own party, it's only one logical step to the conclusion that the administration has accepted that health care reform will be the latest initiative to move forward along party lines.

Over the weekend an anonymous source told Bloomberg that the White House is "devising a strategy to pass a measure by relying only on the Democratic majority in each house of Congress."

Read More →

On Meet the Press yesterday, Sen. Chuck Schumer contradicted his colleague Kent Conrad (D-ND), saying he believes there are 60 Democratic votes to pass a health care bill with a public option. And he confirmed that, with a bipartisan solution seeming unlikely, Democratic party leaders are indeed prepared to use the filibuster-proof budget reconciliation bill to pass at least some parts of health care reform.

"I believe we could get a public option that could be passed with the 60 Democratic votes," Schumer said. Conrad has repeatedly said the opposite--that the public option doesn't have the votes. But he famously hasn't explained who in the party would support a health reform filibuster over the issue.

Schumer went on to address the possibility that Democrats might circumvent the filibuster altogether. "[W]e are considering alternatives," he said in an appearance with Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT).

Read More →

Roll Call: Hope For Bipartisanship Lingers, But Reconciliation Talk Increases Roll Call says that while Senators are holding out hope for a bipartisan deal on health care, the talk of using budget reconciliation to produce a Democrats-only bill is rising: "With bipartisan talks yielding no results, Democrats have urged President Barack Obama to abandon efforts to win Republican support and instead push a bill through on party-line votes."

Obama On Vacation President Obama and his family are spending the week at Martha's Vineyard, and do not have ay public events scheduled. Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton said Obama is hoping for a quiet time: "He wants you to relax and have a good time. Take some walks on the beaches. Nobody's looking to make any news."

Read More →

McCain Defends Palin, Also Says: "I Don't Think They Were, Quote, 'Death Panels'" Appearing on This Week, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) defended his former running mate Sarah Palin on her claim that President Obama's health care plan would create "death panels," though he did admit her wording was off. "Look, I don't think they were, quote, 'death panels,' don't get me wrong," said McCain. "I don't think - but on the best treatment procedures part of the bill, it does open it up to decisions being made as far - that should be left - those choices left to the patient and the individual."

Grassley: End-of-Life Provision "Just Scares The Devil Out of People" Appearing on Face The Nation, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) explained that he used the phrase "pull the plug on grandma" while trying to assuage fears that people have about the health care bill: "It won't do that, but I wanted to explain why my constituents are concerned about it, and I also want to say that there is an $8 billion cost with that issue, and if you're trying to save money and you put an $8 billion of doctors giving you some advice at the end of life, doctors are going to take advantage of earning that $8 billion and constituents see that as an opportunity to save some money. It just scares the devil out of people."

Read More →

Obama Takes On "Willful Misrepresentations" In Health Care Debate In this weekend's Youtube address, President Obama attacked and set out to rebut what he called the "willful misrepresentations and outright distortions" in the health care debate:

"This is an issue of vital concern to every American, and I'm glad that so many are engaged," said Obama. "But it also should be an honest debate, not one dominated by willful misrepresentations and outright distortions, spread by the very folks who would benefit the most by keeping things exactly as they are."

GOP Rep. Price: Obama "Plays Fast And Loose With The Facts" In this weekend's Republican address, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) said that it's President Obama who is the one saying things that aren't true in the health care debate, even as he says he's trying to fight disinformation:

"As opposition to the Democrats' government-run health plan is mounting," said Price, "the President has said he'd like to stamp out some of the disinformation floating around out there. The problem is the President, himself, plays fast and loose with the facts."

Read More →

Happily for reformers, the member of Congress with the most power to influence health care legislation is a man who a). has a higher approval rating on the issue in his state among Republicans than among Democrats, and b). is willing to ignore the stated preference of a plurality of his constituents.

According to a new Research 2000 poll commissioned by DailyKos, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) a minority--33 percent--of Montana Democrats approve of Baucus' actions on health care compared to 55 percent who disapprove. Compare that to Republicans, 49 percent of whom approve and 38 percent of whom disapprove. A clear plurality of Republicans think he's doing a bang-up job on health care.

Read More →

A new Mason-Dixon poll has some bad news for scandal-plagued Gov. Jim Gibbons (R-NV): If he runs for re-election he would likely lose the Republican nomination in a landslide.

U.S. District Court Judge Brian Sandoval, who recently announced that he is resigning from the bench and is expected to run for governor as a Republican, has 33% in the GOP primary to Gibbons' 17%.

Also, the poll shows that Clark County (Las Vegas) Commissioner Rory Reid, a son of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, is not the favorite for the Democratic nomination if he runs. Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman would be the favorite with 34%, followed by state Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley at 25%, and Reid the Younger with 13%. In a two-way primary of Buckley and Reid -- Goodman could potentially run as an independent -- Buckley has 43% to Reid's 22%.

Betsy McCaughey, possibly the first person to equate end-of-life counseling with government-enforced euthanasia, has resigned from the medical equipment company where she was a director.

McCaughey, a former lieutenant governor of New York, appeared on The Daily Show last night to talk about health care reform, and was repeatedly torn down by host Jon Stewart.

Cantrel Medical Corp., which creates specialized medical devices such as dialysis machines, announced today that McCaughey submitted her letter of resignation yesterday.