A few months ago, Sarah Palin ended her formal political career to seek the greener pastures of the Facebook “Notes” application, from which she conjured one of the most offensive, distortionary, and downright malicious lies in recent American political history — the notion that an optional government health plan would somehow hunt down and murder her favorite prop special-needs child. Sunday, despite the disagreement of every analyst with even a semblance of honesty, Palin re-returned to the subject. On Facebook.
We had been told there were no “death panels” in the bill either. But look closely at the provision mandating bureaucratic panels that will be calling the shots regarding who will receive government health care.
Let’s take her challenge. Do look closely at the bill’s language. There, § 240, the section controlling funds for end-of-life planning, now contains a healthy subsection (d), making explicit a ban against assisted suicide. In previous versions of the bill, to get to Sarah’s “death panels,” one had to imagine language that wasn’t there; now, one has to imagine away language that pointedly is there.
If the argument is that a public option would create a government panel to “ration” care, one searches for the provision in vain (start at § 321): because the public option is modeled on Medicare, it will function largely through public/private partnerships, with the government acting only as an intermediary. Under this system, the government makes no health care decisions whatsoever, except setting a minimum for services that must be covered (start at § 221). Government decisions on minimum care, when they happen, will start at a higher initial value than is currently available in the private market.
Sarah’s failure to grasp this point means that she has neither read the bill, nor grasped even the contours of the deeper debate on health care. The length of legislation is no excuse: we pay politicians to read, write, and mark up bills. If she’s not willing to, then she made the right decision to get out of politics. Provided she stays out. Completely.
Remember, not six months ago, in the wake of her failed election, Governor Palin was the toast of the conservative “movement.” We ought not let them forget it. Rarely have so many been so wrong about so inconsequential an individual.