Sarah Palin: Midnight Votes, Backroom Deals, and a Death Panel: The Continuing Constitutional Crisis
Posted by Gary P Jackson on December 23, 2009
More like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil with this bunch!
At what should be the happiest, most wonderfully magical time of the year, a great evil has gripped the nation. The most corrupt Congress in our nation’s history in lockstep with the most corrupt and evil man to ever step foot in the Oval Office are committing acts that amount to no less than treason.
As we wrote earlier, in a piece entitled Death of the Republic, some serious maneuvering by Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid slipped some language into the already grossly unconstitutional Obamacare fiasco that would prohibit future Congresses from making changes or repealing key measures of this legislation.
As you can imagine, the outrage over this is through the roof nationwide.
Ironically, and well…even laughably, this provision that Reid and the other communists want to make sure is never, ever modified, or repealed, is the very death panel that the communists and their lap dogs in the corrupt, Obamacentric media have been working night and day, with almost superhuman effort, to convince the public that it never existed!!
It was even deemed “lie of the year” by the radical left wing media!
Sarah has now weighed in on the subject:
Midnight Votes, Backroom Deals, and a Death Panel
Last weekend while you were preparing for the holidays with your family, Harry Reid’s Senate was making shady backroom deals to ram through the Democrat health care take-over. The Senate ended debate on this bill without even reading it. That and midnight weekend votes seem to be standard operating procedures in D.C. No one is certain of what’s in the bill, but Senator Jim DeMint spotted one shocking revelation regarding the section in the bill describing the Independent Medicare Advisory Board (now called the Independent Payment Advisory Board), which is a panel of bureaucrats charged with cutting health care costs on the backs of patients – also known as rationing. Apparently Reid and friends have changed the rules of the Senate so that the section of the bill dealing with this board can’t be repealed or amended without a 2/3 supermajority vote. Senator DeMint said:
“This is a rule change. It’s a pretty big deal. We will be passing a new law and at the same time creating a senate rule that makes it out of order to amend or even repeal the law. I’m not even sure that it’s constitutional, but if it is, it most certainly is a senate rule. I don’t see why the majority party wouldn’t put this in every bill. If you like your law, you most certainly would want it to have force for future senates. I mean, we want to bind future congresses. This goes to the fundamental purpose of senate rules: to prevent a tyrannical majority from trampling the rights of the minority or of future congresses.”
In other words, Democrats are protecting this rationing “death panel” from future change with a procedural hurdle. You have to ask why they’re so concerned about protecting this particular provision. Could it be because bureaucratic rationing is one important way Democrats want to “bend the cost curve” and keep health care spending down?
The Congressional Budget Office seems to think that such rationing has something to do with cost. In a letter to Harry Reid last week, CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf noted (with a number of caveats) that the bill’s calculations call for a reduction in Medicare’s spending rate by about 2 percent in the next two decades, but then he writes the kicker:
“It is unclear whether such a reduction in the growth rate could be achieved, and if so, whether it would be accomplished through greater efficiencies in the delivery of health care or would reduce access to care or diminish the quality of care.”
Though Nancy Pelosi and friends have tried to call “death panels” the “lie of the year,” this type of rationing – what the CBO calls “reduc[ed] access to care” and “diminish[ed] quality of care” – is precisely what I meant when I used that metaphor.
This health care bill is one of the most far-reaching and expensive expansions of the role of government into our lives. We’re talking about putting one-seventh of our economy under the government’s thumb. We’re also talking about something as intimate to our personal well-being as medical care.
This bill is so unpopular that people on the right and the left hate it. So why go through with it? The Senate is planning to vote on this on Christmas Eve. Why the rush? Though we will begin paying for this bill immediately, we will see no benefits for years. (That’s the trick that allowed the CBO to state that the bill won’t grow the deficit for the next ten years.)
The administration’s promises of transparency and bipartisanship have been broken one by one. This entire process has been defined by midnight votes on weekends, closed-door meetings with industry lobbyists, and payoffs to politicians willing to sell their principles for sweetheart deals. Is it any wonder that Americans are so disillusioned with their leaders in Washington?
This is about politics, not health care. Americans don’t want this bill. Americans don’t like this bill. Washington has stopped listening to us. But we’re paying attention, and 2010 is coming.
I love this woman! The radical communist scumbags in the media, Congress, and the White House keep saying she’s crazy with the death panel talk, trying to intimidate her, and she comes right back and shoves it up their @sses!
BOOM, taste my nightstick!
Sarah, of course, is correct here. This is all about politics and nothing about health care. This is an evil, wicked thing that is being visited on the American people as we get ready to celebrate the birth of Christ, our Lord and Savior.
At the end of her note, Sarah references an opinion piece from the Wall Street Journal that must be read:
Change Nobody Believes In
A bill so reckless that it has to be rammed through on a partisan vote on Christmas eve.
And tidings of comfort and joy from Harry Reid too. The Senate Majority Leader has decided that the last few days before Christmas are the opportune moment for a narrow majority of Democrats to stuff ObamaCare through the Senate to meet an arbitrary White House deadline. Barring some extraordinary reversal, it now seems as if they have the 60 votes they need to jump off this cliff, with one-seventh of the economy in tow.
Mr. Obama promised a new era of transparent good government, yet on Saturday morning Mr. Reid threw out the 2,100-page bill that the world’s greatest deliberative body spent just 17 days debating and replaced it with a new “manager’s amendment” that was stapled together in covert partisan negotiations. Democrats are barely even bothering to pretend to care what’s in it, not that any Senator had the chance to digest it in the 38 hours before the first cloture vote at 1 a.m. this morning. After procedural motions that allow for no amendments, the final vote could come at 9 p.m. on December 24.
Even in World War I there was a Christmas truce.
The rushed, secretive way that a bill this destructive and unpopular is being forced on the country shows that “reform” has devolved into the raw exercise of political power for the single purpose of permanently expanding the American entitlement state. An increasing roll of leaders in health care and business are looking on aghast at a bill that is so large and convoluted that no one can truly understand it, as Finance Chairman Max Baucus admitted on the floor last week. The only goal is to ram it into law while the political window is still open, and clean up the mess later.
• Health costs. From the outset, the White House’s core claim was that reform would reduce health costs for individuals and businesses, and they’re sticking to that story. “Anyone who says otherwise simply hasn’t read the bills,” Mr. Obama said over the weekend. This is so utterly disingenuous that we doubt the President really believes it.
The best and most rigorous cost analysis was recently released by the insurer WellPoint, which mined its actuarial data in various regional markets to model the Senate bill. WellPoint found that a healthy 25-year-old in Milwaukee buying coverage on the individual market will see his costs rise by 178%. A small business based in Richmond with eight employees in average health will see a 23% increase. Insurance costs for a 40-year-old family with two kids living in Indianapolis will pay 106% more. And on and on.
These increases are solely the result of ObamaCare—above and far beyond the status quo—because its strict restrictions on underwriting and risk-pooling would distort insurance markets. All but a handful of states have rejected regulations like “community rating” because they encourage younger and healthier buyers to wait until they need expensive care, increasing costs for everyone. Benefits and pricing will now be determined by politics.
As for the White House’s line about cutting costs by eliminating supposed “waste,” even Victor Fuchs, an eminent economist generally supportive of ObamaCare, warned last week that these political theories are overly simplistic. “The oft-heard promise ‘we will find out what works and what does not’ scarcely does justice to the complexity of medical practice,” the Stanford professor wrote.
• Steep declines in choice and quality. This is all of a piece with the hubris of an Administration that thinks it can substitute government planning for market forces in determining where the $33 trillion the U.S. will spend on medicine over the next decade should go.
This centralized system means above all fewer choices; what works for the political class must work for everyone. With formerly private insurers converted into public utilities, for instance, they’ll inevitably be banned from selling products like health savings accounts that encourage more cost-conscious decisions.
Unnoticed by the press corps, the Congressional Budget Office argued recently that the Senate bill would so “substantially reduce flexibility in terms of the types, prices, and number of private sellers of health insurance” that companies like WellPoint might need to “be considered part of the federal budget.”
With so large a chunk of the economy and medical practice itself in Washington’s hands, quality will decline. Ultimately, “our capacity to innovate and develop new therapies would suffer most of all,” as Harvard Medical School Dean Jeffrey Flier recently wrote in our pages. Take the $2 billion annual tax—rising to $3 billion in 2018—that will be leveled against medical device makers, among the most innovative U.S. industries. Democrats believe that more advanced health technologies like MRI machines and drug-coated stents are driving costs too high, though patients and their physicians might disagree.
“The Senate isn’t hearing those of us who are closest to the patient and work in the system every day,” Brent Eastman, the chairman of the American College of Surgeons, said in a statement for his organization and 18 other speciality societies opposing ObamaCare. For no other reason than ideological animus, doctor-owned hospitals will face harsh new limits on their growth and who they’re allowed to treat. Physician Hospitals of America says that ObamaCare will “destroy over 200 of America’s best and safest hospitals.”
• Blowing up the federal fisc. Even though Medicare’s unfunded liabilities are already about 2.6 times larger than the entire U.S. economy in 2008, Democrats are crowing that ObamaCare will cost “only” $871 billion over the next decade while fantastically reducing the deficit by $132 billion, according to CBO.
Yet some 98% of the total cost comes after 2014—remind us why there must absolutely be a vote this week—and most of the taxes start in 2010. That includes the payroll tax increase for individuals earning more than $200,000 that rose to 0.9 from 0.5 percentage points in Mr. Reid’s final machinations. Job creation, here we come.
Other deceptions include a new entitlement for long-term care that starts collecting premiums tomorrow but doesn’t start paying benefits until late in the decade. But the worst is not accounting for a formula that automatically slashes Medicare payments to doctors by 21.5% next year and deeper after that. Everyone knows the payment cuts won’t happen but they remain in the bill to make the cost look lower. The American Medical Association’s priority was eliminating this “sustainable growth rate” but all they got in return for their year of ObamaCare cheerleading was a two-month patch snuck into the defense bill that passed over the weekend.
The truth is that no one really knows how much ObamaCare will cost because its assumptions on paper are so unrealistic. To hide the cost increases created by other parts of the bill and transfer them onto the federal balance sheet, the Senate sets up government-run “exchanges” that will subsidize insurance for those earning up to 400% of the poverty level, or $96,000 for a family of four in 2016. Supposedly they would only be offered to those whose employers don’t provide insurance or work for small businesses.
As Eugene Steuerle of the left-leaning Urban Institute points out, this system would treat two workers with the same total compensation—whatever the mix of cash wages and benefits—very differently. Under the Senate bill, someone who earned $42,000 would get $5,749 from the current tax exclusion for employer-sponsored coverage but $12,750 in the exchange. A worker making $60,000 would get $8,310 in the exchanges but only $3,758 in the current system.
For this reason Mr. Steuerle concludes that the Senate bill is not just a new health system but also “a new welfare and tax system” that will warp the labor market. Given the incentives of these two-tier subsidies, employers with large numbers of lower-wage workers like Wal-Mart may well convert them into “contractors” or do more outsourcing. As more and more people flood into “free” health care, taxpayer costs will explode.
• Political intimidation. The experts who have pointed out such complications have been ignored or dismissed as “ideologues” by the White House. Those parts of the health-care industry that couldn’t be bribed outright, like Big Pharma, were coerced into acceding to this agenda. The White House was able to, er, persuade the likes of the AMA and the hospital lobbies because the federal government will control 55% of total U.S. health spending under ObamaCare, according to the Administration’s own Medicare actuaries.
Others got hush money, namely Nebraska’s Ben Nelson. Even liberal Governors have been howling for months about ObamaCare’s unfunded spending mandates: Other budget priorities like education will be crowded out when about 21% of the U.S. population is on Medicaid, the joint state-federal program intended for the poor. Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman calculates that ObamaCare will result in $2.5 billion in new costs for his state that “will be passed on to citizens through direct or indirect taxes and fees,” as he put it in a letter to his state’s junior Senator.
So in addition to abortion restrictions, Mr. Nelson won the concession that Congress will pay for 100% of Nebraska Medicaid expansions into perpetuity. His capitulation ought to cost him his political career, but more to the point, what about the other states that don’t have a Senator who’s the 60th vote for ObamaCare?
“After a nearly century-long struggle we are on the cusp of making health-care reform a reality in the United States of America,” Mr. Obama said on Saturday. He’s forced to claim the mandate of “history” because he can’t claim the mandate of voters. Some 51% of the public is now opposed, according to National Journal’s composite of all health polling. The more people know about ObamaCare, the more unpopular it becomes.
The tragedy is that Mr. Obama inherited a consensus that the health-care status quo needs serious reform, and a popular President might have crafted a durable compromise that blended the best ideas from both parties. A more honest and more thoughtful approach might have even done some good. But as Mr. Obama suggested, the Democratic old guard sees this plan as the culmination of 20th-century liberalism.
So instead we have this vast expansion of federal control. Never in our memory has so unpopular a bill been on the verge of passing Congress, never has social and economic legislation of this magnitude been forced through on a purely partisan vote, and never has a party exhibited more sheer political willfulness that is reckless even for Washington or had more warning about the consequences of its actions.
These 60 Democrats are creating a future of epic increases in spending, taxes and command-and-control regulation, in which bureaucracy trumps innovation and transfer payments are more important than private investment and individual decisions. In short, the Obama Democrats have chosen change nobody believes in—outside of themselves—and when it passes America will be paying for it for decades to come.
This health care bill is a complete and total disaster for the nation. It destroys the Republic forever. In this writer’s opinion, anyone who puts their name to this legislation is guilty of treason and deserves the harshest penalties allowed by law.
One last thing, as both Sarah and myself mentioned death panels here, I just got an e-mail linking to a nice piece from the CATO Institute, a libertarian think tank, that backs up what we’ve been writing about here, and Sarah has been saying from the start:
Death Panels? Sarah Palin Was Right
Posted by Alan Reynolds
PolitiFact.com gave Sarah Palin their “Lie of the Year” award for warning on August 7 that the Democrat’s idea of “cost containment” implied rationing by “death panels.”
The self-described fact-checking web site of the St. Petersburg Times claimed Palin was criticizing a provision in the House bill under which “Medicare would pay for doctors’ appointments for patients to discuss living wills, health care directives and other end-of-life issues.”
The claim that Governor Palin confused one-on-one counseling between doctors and patients with any sort of “panel” was always ridiculous on its face. Indeed, that claim should itself have been a leading candidate for “Lie of the Year.” Yet Palin’s critics kept on equating death panels with counseling throughout the year, as though they could not even begin to understand plain English.
In a column called “Reporting the Lies,” Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein wrote, “Before Sarah Palin talked about death panels, no one knew about Sen. Johnny Isakson’s quiet crusade to persuade Medicare beneficiaries to adopt living wills.”
Adopting a living will requires a lawyer, not a doctor, so there must have been more to the crusade than just that. There is some reason to wonder if the crusaders intended to promote penny-pinching advice like President Obama’s famous suggestion that perhaps grandma should skip the expensive operation and take a cheap pain pill instead (generic, of course).
In any case, no single physician’s advice involves any panel, deathly or otherwise. Palin was clearly worried about rationing by some government-appointed group, panel or board of experts — such the (currently) powerless panel that recently suggested fewer and later breast exams, or the Senate bill’s potentially more lethal Independent Payment Advisory Board
The shameless hoax that Palin had confused individual consulting with rationing by a panel was repeated endlessly. By November, the Washington Post was treating this obvious canard as an established fact: “Proposed health-care reform legislation includes a provision that allows Medicare to pay for “end-of-life” counseling for seniors and their families who request it. The provision — which Sarah Palin erroneously described as “death panels” for seniors — nearly derailed President Obama’s health-care initiative.”
What Palin wrote about death panels clearly had nothing to do with counseling or with any other specifics in seminal House bill. What she wrote was: “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.”
How could anyone believe Palin’s sensible comment about rationing was, in reality, a senseless fear of counseling? To say so was no mistake; it was an oft-repeated big lie.
Rather than even mentioning the House bill, Palin linked to an interesting speech by “Rep. Michele Bachmann [which] highlighted the Orwellian thinking of the president’s health care advisor, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of the White House chief of staff.”
Dr. Emmanuel’s varied and murky remarks about using panels of experts (like himself) to ration health care are less clear or less candid than those of another bioethicist, Peter Singer of Princeton. Singer’s article, “Why We Must Ration Health Care,” was a cover feature in The New York Times Magazine on July 15 — shortly before Palin took the opposing side of this issue.
Singer’s argument (about an expensive anti-cancer drug) is that, “If there is any point at which you say, ‘No, an extra six months [of life] isn’t worth that much,’ then you think that health care should be rationed.” But the question itself is rhetorical trickery, sophistry. Even if there was certain knowledge about life expectancy with or without some treatment (which is never true), Singer has no right to any opinion about how much an extra six months of my life is worth (and vice-versa) unless he’s paying the bills.
But that, of course, is what makes the proposed expansion of insurance subsidies and Medicaid so ominous. Just as federal politicians imagine that a small minority stake in some bank entitles them to override all other stockholders when it comes to executive pay, federal politicians would surely claim that even small subsidies for anyone’s health insurance entitle them to, as Singer put it, set “limits on which treatments should be paid for.” And those politicians would surely appoint panels of experts as cover when some life-saving procedure, device or drug was ruled-out for those with insufficient quality-adjusted years left to live.
Singer wrote, quite correctly, that in “Medicare, Medicaid and hospital emergency rooms, health care is rationed by long waits. . . [and] low payments to doctors that discourage some from serving public patients.” [emphasis added]
Pending health care bills would make such government-mandated scarcity of health care much worse. There would be massive shifting of money away from Medicare toward Medicaid. But the extra Medicaid money would be spread around more thinly. States would cut benefits to the poor in order to accommodate millions of new, less-poor people lured into Medicaid, at least half of whom (7 or 8 million by my estimate) currently have employer-provided health insurance.
The Senate health bill supposedly intends to slash Medicare payment rates for physicians by 21% next year and more in future years, with permanent reductions in payments to other medical services too. It would also establish an Independent Payment Advisory Board which would be empowered to make deeper cuts which Congress could reject only with considerable difficulty. If that’s not quite a “death panel” it would surely not be pro-life in its impact.
The Congressional Budget Office says, “It is unclear whether such a reduction in the growth rate could be achieved, and if so, whether it would . . . reduce access to care or diminish the quality of care.”
Actually, it’s clear enough that the proposed Medicare cuts won’t be achieved, but that efforts in that direction will nonetheless reduce access to care and diminish its quality. The government can’t boost demand and cut prices without creating excess demand. And that, in turn, means rationing by longer waiting lines and by panels (rationing boards) making life-or death decisions for other people.
As Sarah Palin predicted, “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.“
As the CATO Institute points out so well, Sarah is right, as usual. The chronically ill, old folks, and, of course, the disabled are royally screwed here. Evil men like Dr Ezekiel Emanuel have already written the book on these death panels, and it’s all based on who is deemed “productive to society.” This is as evil as it gets. This is a few psychopaths playing God with Americans’ lives.
Below is the original poster the modified one above came from. In Nazi Germany, the government worked overtime to convince it’s people that some lives just weren’t worth living and should be extinguished. They even went so far as to point out how much keeping what they termed “useless eaters” alive cost each and every German. They got this thinking from the American “progressive” movement, by the way.
Sarah Palin brings this home to me, through her beautiful son Trig. Thanks to the American “progressive” (liberal) movement and immoral groups like Planned Parenthood, a group started by Klu Klux Klanner Margaret Sanger, as a way of Negro population control…she called blacks “human weeds“…,we now abort fully 90 percent of all Downs Syndrome babies.
As our friend Adrienne Ross points out: “Trig is a testimony to the beauty and value of all God’s children.” There is simply no way you can look at this beautiful boy and not see that he is a blessing and a true gift. He brings much joy to his family, and inspiration to other families with Downs Syndrome children.
It breaks one’s heart that so many children like Trig never are allowed to experience life because the “progressives” are carrying out a jihad against all children with disabilities. They are attempting to desensitize and dehumanize all of mankind.
Kim Priestap has a very revealing piece on Dr Death, entitled Ezekiel Emanuel: Deny Coverage to Elderly and Disabled for the Greater Good that is a must read.
Sorry to be so long winded here, but lets face it, this is the most sweeping, and the most dangerous legislation ever proposed by Congress and a President. This is pure and absolute evil. Nothing less. The men and women who have signed on to this destruction of America, and her peoples need to be dealt with in the harshest manner humanly possible. They are all traitors.
There was one bit of sanity in Congress though as freshman Alabama Congressman Parker Griffith did something very rare, he switched parties. From Ed Morrissey over at Hot Air:
Usually one does not see Congressmen or Senators flipping parties to join the minority. However, Politico’s Josh Kraushaar has a scoop that Blue Dog Democrat Parker Griffith of Alabama, a freshman in Congress, has seen enough of Nancy Pelosi’s leadership. He will join Republicans in a move that has far more symbolic than substantive impact — for now.
This is a fascinating story. It is rare to see folks switch parties, and switching to the minority party is virtually unheard of. This is a very strong statement about the state of the democrat/communist party.
Congressman Griffith is a doctor BTW. I imagine that had a lot to do with his switching parties and fighting so hard against all of this. I know from speaking with my doctors and their staff, that this pending evil is not wanted in any way, shape, or form.
Sarah was quick to welcome Congressman Griffith aboard via Twitter:
Congratulations Alabama!And all Americans concerned about Capitol Hill’s current agenda;Rep Parker Griffith just did the right thing.Welcome
We are proud to welcome him to the fight as well.
I want to leave everyone with this reminder from the Great Ronald Reagan on the dangers of allowing government to take over health care and what their real end game is: