TPMDC Sunday Roundup

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.”Schumer: We Can Get Public Option With 60 Democratic Votes
Appearing on Meet The Press, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that President Obama has not backed away from a public option: “And at the end of the day, we will have one. We will have one. Because I believe, even if every Republican says that they will not be for a public option, we can find a level playing field, modify–level playing field type public option where both insurance companies and this option compete, and we will get 60 Democratic votes for it.”

Hatch: Ted Kennedy Would Have Worked With Me On Health Care
Also on Meet The Press, Sen. Orrin Hatch was asked what the impact of Sen. Ted Kennedy’s (D-MA) absence has been on the health care negotiations. “Well, Senator Kennedy would–first thing he would have done would, would have been call me and say, ‘Let’s work this out,'” Hatch responded. “And we would have worked it out so that the best of both worlds would, would work.”

Dean Criticizes Co-Ops As “Political Compromise”
Appearing on Face The Nation, former DNC Chairman Howard Dean criticized the idea of health care co-ops, as opposed to a public option. “That proposal is a political compromise, not a policy compromise,” said Dean. “No one knows what it would look like and when it has been tried in the past it mostly hasn’t worked.”

Former Bush Official Keeps Up “Death Panel” Criticism
Appearing on Fox News Sunday, former Bush administration Director of Faith-Based Initiatives Jim Towey criticized the Obama administration for bringing back into availability an end-of-life pamphlet at the Department of Veterans Affairs: “Here you have the government that has a financial stake in the answers that they give, and I think a lot of people are afraid that somehow they’re going to be steered toward a denial of care… So whether there’s ‘death panel’ written in a law or not, the real issue is why would the V.A. be promoting a document written by an assisted suicide advocate that has such a — kind of an obsession with death and with pushing people, I think, in a direction to deny care.”

Duckworth’s Rebuttal: Administration Is Expanding Care For Veterans
Also on Fox News Sunday, Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs Tammy Duckworth made it clear that the manual referred to by Towey is not reinstated for official use, but is available on the department’s Web site among other materials. And she explained that the department is expanding services for veterans, not cutting costs: “We have the largest increase in our budget in over 30 years. We are going to be expanding access to veterans. We are working with the new G.I. bill for the 21st century … And I don’t think that there’s anybody that understands better the importance and value of life than those of us who have worn the uniform and faced combat.”

Lugar Criticizes Obama On Afghanistan, Lieberman Defends Obama
Appearing on State of the Union, Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) called on President Obama to provide more leadership regarding Afghanistan: “The president really has to face the fact that his own leadership here is critical. He really can’t just leave this to the Congress, to Gen. McChrystal and say ‘folks, discuss this’ after the report comes in.” Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) countered Lugar: “The president came in and basically recommitted to what he had said during the campaign last year – that his was a war of necessity, that we were struck from Afghanistan when the Taliban was in charge on September 11, 2001, and we can’t let the Taliban come back.”