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Republicans want to pull the plug on Granny

I have this theory that those people who protest loudly about some (usually social) issue are the people most guilty of it. Like staunch family-values politicians who turn out to be closeted homosexuals or are having wild affairs in Argentina.

Likewise, Jacob Weisberg has a fascinating editorial in Newsweek magazine that points that that it is the Republicans — the same people who are screaming about Obama’s mythical “death panels” — who have been enacting legislation right and left that effectively pulls the plug on old people.

For example, it was Chuck Grassley, who started the whole “pull the plug on Grandma” talking point, who created the “Throw Mama From the Train” provision of the GOP’s 2001 tax cut. Anyone who dies in 2009 will not have to pay any estate tax, but in 2010, the tax jumps to 55%. Talk about a huge incentive for old people to shuffle off this mortal coil (not to mention their children to turn off their respirators).

Indeed, a study done in 2001 by two prominent universities found that older benefactors die in greater numbers just before estate tax hikes and just after estate tax cuts in statistically significant numbers.

This is not the only example of Republicans trying to throw seniors from the train. Social Security, which has contributed to a reduction in the senior suicide rate of 56% since 1930, is a favorite target of the GOP. If Bush had succeeded in privatizing Social Security, allowing seniors to gamble their retirement on the stock market, we can only guess what would have happened when the stock market crashed. Not only would suicide rates go up, but millions of seniors would not have been able to afford the necessities of life, such as food, medicine, and heating.

And then there is the GOP opposition to stem-cell research, which is one of most promising ways to fight diseases that kill and disable seniors, including Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. And seniors disproportionately die from air pollution — the EPA estimates that 23,000 lives a year could have been saved by the clean air legislation that the Republicans defeated in 2002.

So the next time you hear a Republican screaming about “death panels”, even though there is no such thing in any of the health reform legislation being proposed — you can smile knowingly, or — if you are feeling brave — point out to that person that they are the ones who are killing grandma.



  1. BTW, “this moral coil” I suspect should be “this mortal coil”… though “moral coil” is an interesting concept. đŸ˜‰

    *hands Iron Knee a cup of coffee*

    Sunday, August 30, 2009 at 3:55 am | Permalink
  2. Iron Knee wrote:

    OMG, I’d love to take credit for that, but it really was a typo (or maybe a Freudian slip). I’ll fix it.

    Sunday, August 30, 2009 at 11:05 am | Permalink
  3. Daniel Habtemariam wrote:

    Nice theory.

    There’s a disconnect between conservatives and conservatism.

    The upside of small government is lower taxes; the downside is fewer social services–which eventually means an honest, fact-based, intelligent discussion on how to reign in future Medicare and Social Security spending.

    Republicans like Grassley (and Bush) seem to get away with presenting all the upside and none of the down. And worse yet, the moment Obama tries to address the downside, they attack him as though he has manufactured the problem on his own.

    Real Republicans do indeed want to pull the plug on Granny. Someone just needs to tell Chuck Grassley that.

    Monday, August 31, 2009 at 9:33 am | Permalink
  4. starluna wrote:

    I’m not convinced that those opposed to any type of health care reform are interested in an honest or fact-based discussion. I’m not sure they are interested in a discussion at all. If my observations of regular New England town hall meetings is any evidence, constraining resources does not change the tone of a debate about how to distribute resources, limited or not.

    I also don’t think this should be about “bigger” or “smaller” government. It should be about what role should the government play in ensuring equitable access to good health and well-being.

    Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 7:08 am | Permalink
  5. Daniel Habtemariam wrote:

    @starluna. The sad fact is that you’re right. In a rational conversation, it wouldn’t be about bigger or smaller government. I abhor those terms, but the Right has successfully engraved them onto the political landscape, and in a society where most people don’t know what the public option is, it’s hard to discuss this stuff without relying on small words that most people understand (relatively speaking).

    And though I’ve yet to attend a town hall meeting myself, I’m fairly certain that the core obstructionists to any type of healthcare reform are indeed playing petty horse-race politics. It’s hard, then, to imagine what we’re going to do about the honest, fact-based problems that healthcare inflation (via Medicare) will pose for the federal budget in the next 20 years (not to mention what it’s already doing to American families and small businesses). Sometimes, I’m prone to give the dissenters the benefit of the doubt and take them at their word…naturally, that conversation never gets very far. I’d recommend Bill Bradley’s op-ed piece in the New York Times last week for a glimpse of much more gentlemanly politics that used to be played out in the not-too-distant past.

    On a side note, I don’t know which Congressional district you’re in, but Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA-9th) is having a town-hall meeting this Thursday near Mattapan.

    Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 12:44 pm | Permalink
  6. starluna wrote:

    Daniel – You’re right that medical inflation is the elephant in the room. Although I can see merit in Bradley’s proposal, it still ignores this issue.

    Personally, I think we’ll have to accept cost containment measures if we want to reign in medical inflation. Rationing is the only way to combat medical inflation. The sooner we accept that, the sooner we can get on with real health care reform.

    Town hall meetings are very interesting; I highly recommend going to one. Not the kind that the congressional representatives have been doing. Go to some small town in New Hampshire when the town votes on the budget or, even better, a mildly controversial development project. Nothing on television comes close to the drama and entertainment at these meetings.

    One of the most interesting things I’ve noticed about them is that newer residents to these old towns tend to adopt a very confrontational style, which is not considered an acceptable form of interaction. Some communities have ways of reinforcing their particular social norms. Some communities are so shocked at the broach of social decorum that the town becomes paralyzed. I think the latter is part of the strategy of the obstructionists. Indeed, in some of the issues that I’ve studied, that is the expressed purpose of using confrontational methods.

    Wednesday, September 2, 2009 at 12:01 pm | Permalink
  7. James wrote:

    Liberalism is a mental disease. The air head responses here are proof.

    Bush evil, Obama the communist good. What will you do when there is a two million armed man/woman march on DC. Is that conrontational enough for you?

    Defend the constitution. Live Free of Die.

    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 5:12 pm | Permalink