Tales from the Trail

Obama doesn’t want to pull plug on grandma

August 11, 2009

This just in: President Barack Obama opposes pulling the plug on your sick grandmother.

In a sign of how twisted the healthcare debate has become, the president of the United States was forced to stand up in public and say definitively that he did not favor killing off the elderly when their care became too expensive.

The dramatic declaration came in New Hampshire in response to one of the wilder accusations circulated by opponents of his efforts to overhaul healthcare.

“The rumor that’s been circulating a lot lately is this idea that somehow the House of Representatives voted for death panels that will basically pull the plug on grandma because we’ve decided that it’s too expensive to let her live anymore,” Obama said, taking the issue head-on. OBAMA/

It apparently arose from a provision intended to give people more information so they could handle end-of-life issues like setting up living wills and hospice care, he said.

“Somehow it’s gotten spun into this idea of death panels,” Obama said. “I am not in favor of that.”

He did not mention Sarah Palin, former Republican vice presidential candidate and ex-governor of Alaska, who got the ball rolling on ”death panels.”

The fact that the president had to take a public stand on a rumor that at another time might appear absurd (it would be political suicide for anyone to suggest the government promote euthanasia) shows that the opposition is making inroads in stoking fear about healthcare overhaul.

Obama used some scare tactics of his own, saying that unless things change, health insurance premiums would skyrocket and the deficit would grow because of rising costs of government health programs for the poor – Medicaid – and elderly  - Medicare.

One thing to watch is Obama’s increased reference to the healthcare plan as “health INSURANCE reform,” perhaps the White House believes that substituting insurance for care somehow makes it more palatable to the public.

Do you think Obama effectively addressed the criticism and put the rumors to rest? Did his comments in any way change your view on the healthcare debate?

Click here for more Reuters political coverage

Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young (Obama at healthcare reform townhall in New Hampshire)

Comments
14 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

The practical effect of Medicare cuts and rationing of care for the elderly (remember Obama reflecting hypothetically on whether or not his Grandmother should have gotten certain care)put the lie to his objections. BTW, a presidential denial does not necessarily a fact make, Tabassum Zakaria.

Posted by Mason Jahr, Jr. | Report as abusive
 

Calling both the spreading of outright lies (like this whole death squad rumor the article is about) and Obama claims that if we don’t change the system, costs will skyrocket (a well-founded and indisputable actuality with hard numbers to back it up)”Scare Tactics” is rather misleading. Acknowledging a real situation is not a scare tactic, its being honest.

Posted by justin siemaszko | Report as abusive
 

you say in article–Obama used some scare tactics of his own, saying that unless things change, health insurance premiums would skyrocket and the deficit would grow….But that’s not equivelent to the scare tactics about killing the elderly! How could you even call it a “scare tactic”??The rise over a decade in premiums are one of the main facts, that are in reality ruining our economy, and the well being of millions of people. That’s not a scare tactic at all. The reformers is trying to help people by educating the public. So stop this one hand other hand balancing of irrational extremism vs rational factual efforts to help our country in a dire time.

Posted by ellenb | Report as abusive
 

I would not believe Obama. He smoozes everyone and still does what he wants. There is no way that his town hall was balanced. I’ve watched many and for his to go as smoothly as it did without interuption proves he had all people screened and forwarned not to make a scene. He makes me sick and I pity his followers.

Posted by carolyn | Report as abusive
 

Now more lies from the liars at Fox:”Dick Morris Urges Viewers To Act Up At Town Hall Meetings And “Terrorize” Blue Dog Democrats”http://www.newshounds.us/2009/ 08/11/dick_morris_urges_viewers_to_act_u p_at_town_hall_meetings_and_terrorize_bl ue_dog_democrats.phpMy God, and I don’t use that word lightly, what is wrong with these people?And Dobbs at CNN can only be a few steps behind Beck in moving to Fox:”Dobbs suggests Howard Dean may be stopped with ‘a stake through his heart’”http://rawstory.com/blog/2009/08/ dobbs-suggests-howard-dean-may-be-stoppe d-with-a-stake-through-his-heart/The level of vitriol, misinformation and demagoguery is incredible.Still, I’ll put my money on Obama. He has proven that he gets it done. Against all odds. Against all negativity and hate. Yes we can!

Posted by John | Report as abusive
 

Hey, Sarah Palin, how about, in honor of the American soldier, you quit making things up?

Posted by getplaning | Report as abusive
 

Carolyn, among rich countries only in America does political partisanship get blurred with religious fervor. Your comment that Obama supporters are his “followers” is exemplary of the perverse view that some Americans have of the role of president.In Europe leaders are regarded as managers more than leaders and held to similar standards as many Fortune 500 CEOs. As long as they don’t run us into an iceberg and keep us on a reasonable course that allows us to enjoy our lives they may get reelected. We’re not looking for a “leader”. In fact we would probably do without politicians if we could.All your comment proves is that you don’t like Obama and that he’s not your “leader”. Instead of looking for a leader to hold your hand why don’t you grow up and judge each issue on the facts that surround it like a real adult.Clearly the idea of “death panels” is not being considered. That the claim was used by a supposedly credible politician (Palin) is comical but that it needs to be justified with a response by our president is just sad.Why is it that the right wing (in every country) always resorts to arguing from extremes? Can this healthcare plan not be discussed on its tangible merits and weaknesses?

Posted by Alejandro | Report as abusive
 

Carolyn, were you upset when war protesters were routinely screened out and removed from Bush rallies? Were you upset when people were profiled at Bush’s election events and searched because they “looked like” Kerry supporters? Were you upset when any voice that differed from the Bush agenda was called un-American? Where was the outrage then? Hypocrite.

Posted by Eric H | Report as abusive
 

as a practising physician for > 20 years, i find the obama denial of rationing and “death panels” akin to holocaust and heliocentricity denial. it’s a matter of plain arithmetic – which studies have found to be more and more beyond the ken of the average american – and that no nation has ever taxed or inflated itself out of a recession: there is but so much money, an increasingly greying population, and technology able to prolong death as well as life. if john wants to put his money on obama, he may have at it – as long as he leaves my money alone.

Posted by jd | Report as abusive
 

The best part is comparing the proposed medical govt takeover to the US Postal System. I wonder if anyone has been to the PO lately and this model is such a great comparison.

 

The tone of this Reuter article is another biased propaganda piece by the liberal media championing the march to socialism. Fact is the bills in congress call for end of life counseling. Is it really a good idea or even ethical for federal agents to come in an old person’s home and advise them of medical care? Of course there will be rationing of health care as there is in Britain and Canada and Obama’s denials in his “town halls” will be long forgotten when the federal take over is complete and becomes the law of the land. With the private system we have, if you don’t like the diagnosis you can go to a different doctor or if you don’t like your insurance company you can buy a different plan. There will be absolutely no recourse when the feds have control. I guess you will be able to call your congressman to complain about your care (along with lillions of others) or you can file suit in the Supreme Court for federal malpractice (good luck). Today there are a number of pending lawsuits against the Canadian government health system for people who have died from delayed care or are in the process of suffering from deficient Canadian care. Wake up before it’s too late! Ther will be no recourse to socialism.

Posted by Richard | Report as abusive
 

Obama plan calls for states to assume more and more of the cost after the first few years of the program. Looks like states will have to raise sales tax or cut other state funded programs.

 

I heard the President speak at the town hall meeting, and I frankly don’t think he wants to address the concerns that many have about health care. Very few who are serious in this debate believe that our government is trying to euthanize anyone. Unfortunately the road to these decisions is always paved with good intentions. Of course we want to help people, the problem is we must view this help in light of our current fiscal reality. We cannot continue to print money and inflate the money supply to pay for more government programs. Large government programs (health care reform is one) have always cost more money than they originally intended that is just the nature of the beast, we are naive to think this will suddenly change now. When the money to run this massive program runs short and the political will to continue raising taxes fails due to reelection concerns, the government will have no choice but to limit care. It is only at that point that all the negatives of this plan will be realized, but by then it will be too late to return to the system we have now!

 

But “pulling the plug” is a strawman. In fact cutting Medicare in part by “bundling payments” to “trim waste” like “unnecessary” tests or specialist visits will of course kill some old people (just as will leaving those over 65 to last for swine flu vaccination). In war, this is “collateral damage”; in healthcare, it is in fact avoidable–by not cutting Medicare to pay for reform, but instead taxing the wealthy once more at the pre-Bush, or even the pre-Reagan rates that would be fair. Or by establishing a single-payer, single-tier national health insurance that removes the cost of private insurance profit-taking.

Posted by Paula | Report as abusive
 

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