Those town hall protests

The nerve of those people!

They actually think members of Congress are interested in getting constituents’ input on legislation. Don’t they know that the purpose of a town hall meeting is to give a Congressman free publicity — to provide him a platform for giving another campaign speech and provide sound bites for the 11 o’clock news?

Constituents letting their Congressmen know what they think? Why, it’s…un-American! Or so say House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer in an op-ed in Monday’s USA Today.

Pelosi and Hoyer aren’t the only ones. Last week Paul Krugman, conjuring up a vision of white sheets and burning crosses, called the people showing up at the town hall meetings a “mob” and suggested that those protesting the various Obamacare plans working their way through Congress are “probably reacting less to what Mr. Obama is doing, or even to what they’ve heard about what he’s doing, than to who he is.”. And for good measure, he tied them in with the “birthers”, the folks who have been demanding that President Obama produce his birth certificate to prove he’s a natural-born American.

The racist charge was repeated on MSNBC’s Hardball by columnist Cynthia Tucker, who “guessed” that 45 to 65 percent of the anti-Obamacare attendees at the health care town halls just don’t like the idea of having a black President.

No doubt, “those” people are angry. But it’s not Obama’s race or doubt about where he was born that fuels their anger. And the protests aren’t organized by lobbyists for the insurance industry, either, as some Democratic operatives have suggested.. As Pat Buchanan pointed out, “most K Street lobbyists could not organize a two-car funeral.”.

Maryland Democratic Representative John P. Sarbanes, no doubt unwittingly, has shown us why people are angry. According to the Baltimore Sun, Sarbanes, in explaining why he will not hold any in-person town hall meetings on health care, said he wants to spend the August recess “trying to convince constituents of the merits of Democratic health care ideas”. In other words, he doesn’t want to know what his constituents think; he wants them to know what he thinks. Like most other Congressmen, he seems to have forgotten that he was elected to represent his constituents, not rule them.

When they’re not characterizing their opponents as brown shirts, the Democrat leadership and their mainstream media allies are accusing them of spreading misinformation. Since last Friday, MSM have been having a field day with an entry made by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on her Facebook page:

The Democrats promise that a government health care system will reduce the cost of health care, but as the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, 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. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

Ah hah! shout her critics. Another Palin lie! The words “death panel” appear nowhere in any of the Obamacare bills.

This is true. If any bill established something called a “death panel”, it would suffer its own unlamented death before the Government Printing Office could get a copy bound and distributed.

But that does not mean that nationalization of medical care would not result in such panels. Since the New Deal, Congress has been in the habit of enacting sweeping mandates that left the implementation details up to the Executive Branch. These “details” amount to de facto legislation. For example, none of the health care bills spells out exactly what coverage will be available to whom and under what circumstances. That will be determined by unelected panels established in the Executive Branch.

Based on President Obama’s promise to “cut costs” — especially his promise to cut some $500 billion from Medicare spending — and based on the kind of people who are presently advising the Obama administration on health care, we can make an educated guess about the kind of people who will be appointed to these panels.

Consider, for example, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, whose brother, Rahm Emanuel, is the White House Chief of Staff. Dr. Emanuel is currently a health policy adviser in the Office of Management and Budget and a member of the Federal Council of Comparative Effectiveness Research. It is likely he will play a major role in setting health care guidelines under any health care reform law that emerges.

Writing in the New York Post, former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey reports:

Savings, he [Emanuel] writes, will require changing how doctors think about their patients: Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath too seriously, “as an imperative to do everything for the patient regardless of the cost or effects on others” (Journal of the American Medical Association, June 18, 2008).

Yes, that’s what patients want their doctors to do. But Emanuel wants doctors to look beyond the needs of their patients and consider social justice, such as whether the money could be better spent on somebody else.

Many doctors are horrified by this notion; they’ll tell you that a doctor’s job is to achieve social justice one patient at a time.

Emanuel, however, believes that “communitarianism” should guide decisions on who gets care. He says medical care should be reserved for the non-disabled, not given to those “who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens…An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia” (Hastings Center Report, Nov.-Dec. ’96).

Translation: Don’t give much care to a grandmother with Parkinson’s or a child with cerebral palsy.

In an upcoming op-ed I wrote for a newspaper, I report on my own family’s experience with overtreatment and unnecessary procedures approved and financed, in part, by Medicare. But what Dr. Emanuel is talking about is something entirely different. He wants to deny necessary procedures to those he regards as undeserving: the old, the disabled, the socially useless.

This is pure, unadulterated collectivism. It is the assertion that a human life is to be valued only to the extent that it contributes to society. Sarah Palin is not exaggerating when she describes such a system as a downright evil.

Make no mistake about it. If expenditures on health care are to come down while it is being extended to still more people, rationing is inevitable. Some people are going to be denied access to necessary treatment.

Advocates of Obamacare will tell you that we already have rationing, but the decisions now are made by private insurers that put profits ahead of people. Maybe so, but there is something a private insurer can’t do: it can’t deny you a treatment or procedure it is contractually obligated to provide. A government health care panel is not subject to such a constraint: it can change the rules whenever it wants.

From Nolan Chart.