As ThinkProgress noted earlier today, Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC) denounced the “demagoguery” that has taken hold of the conservative movement and the Republican Party. “There were no death panels in” the health care reform bill “and to encourage that kind of fear is just the lowest form of political leadership. It’s not leadership,” said Inglis.
Unfortunately for Inglis, there are no signs that his fellow conservatives are planning to reform their political approach. In fact, President Obama’s recess appointment of Donald Berwick to head the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services has revived the very demagogic lie that Inglis decried, the phony “death panel” claim. And it’s not just Fox News and radio talkers. On Chris Baker’s radio show yesterday, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) agreed with Baker’s reference to Berwick as “the chairman of the Obamacare death panel”:
BACHMANN: He’s the one now who will be in charge of implementing full-scale Obamacare and he’ll be in charge of Medicare and Medicaid.
BAKER: Oh boy. That’s why I’m now referring to him as the chairman of the Obamacare death panel.
BACHMANN: That’s right.
BAKER: That’s my title.
BACHMANN: That’s right because this is his quote, and I have it right in front of me. He said, “the decision is not, whether or not we will ration health care. The decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.” Well, it’s with his eyes open. Because he’s going to be the one who is denying people care.
Bachmann’s distorted use of Berwick’s quote acknowledging that rationing inevitably happens in any health care system is ridiculous. As the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein commented, “Only in our highly charged political discourse is” Berwick’s comment “anything but a bland statement of fact.” Klein noted that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has said essentially the same exact thing as Berwick: “Rationing happens today! The question is who will do it?”