Leading the charge against the Democrat's proposed health care reform are Senators Charles Grassley, Jon Kyl, John (Pretty Boy) Boehner and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin. Like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, they ride down from on high to warn the masses that Granny's plug is about to get pulled, that her medical treatment could be rationed, that she might be euthanized or at least have to go before the death panels.
This may sound as if it comes from a brutal German fairy tail but it doesn't. Or, it could come from a bleak drama about the Third Reich, but it doesn't do that either. Actually, it plays out more like a third rate Nazi propoganda film with the aforementioned as the stars.
Republicans are masters of voodoo. Using chicanery and delusional nonsense, the GOP high priests and priestesses cast spells over their rapt worshipers, bedazzling them first and scaring the life out of them next. If fear tactics fail to kill, these sorcerers procure their dirty tricks through other measures, such as legitimate legislation. In other words, they lie about Democratic intentions in order to deflect from their own history of death-to-you-old-gal-measures.
Newsweek's Jacob Weisberg writes, "It's not preposterous to imagine laws that would try to save money by encouraging the inconvenient elderly to make an early exit. After all, that's been the Republican policy for years."
It was Grassley himself who devised the "Throw Mama From the Train" provision of the GOP's 2001 tax cut. The estate-tax revision he championed will reduce the estate tax to zero next year. But when it expires at year's end, the tax will jump back up to its previous level of 55 percent. Grassley's exploding tax break has an entirely foreseeable, if unintended, consequence: it incentivizes ailing, elderly rich people to end their lives—paging Dr. Kevorkian—before midnight on Dec. 31, 2010. It also gives their children an incentive to sign DNR orders and switch off respirators in time for the deadline.
This is not merely hypothetical. Serious economists take the possibility seriously. In a 2001 paper entitled "Dying to Save Taxes," economists from the University of Michigan and the University of British Columbia examined 13 changes in U.S. tax law since 1917 and concluded that benefactors die in greater numbers just before tax hikes and just after tax cuts.
In a second example, Weisberg points out another GOP policy that promotes death for seniors with more modest incomes.
Take George W. Bush's failed plan to privatize Social Security—a program that has driven life expectancy up and death rates down since it was instituted. It has an especially pronounced impact on suicide rates for the elderly, which have declined 56 percent since 1930. Had Bush prevailed, those who gambled on the stock market and lost would be less able to afford medicine, food, and heating for their homes. In aggregate, they'd likely die younger and commit suicide more often.
Weisberg accuses Republicans of trying to "shorten and sadden the lives of the elderly in more oblique ways."
One of President Obama's first official acts was to reverse Bush's executive order limiting government funding for stem-cell research, which remains the most promising avenue for new treatments of diseases that afflict the aged, including Parkinson's and Alz-hei-mer's.
Weisberg wonders why Republicans even want to try to kill old people.
After all, senior citizens are more likely to vote for the GOP than for Democrats. They were the only substantial demographic segment John McCain won in 2008. You'd think conservatives would want them to hang on as long as possible. The problem is that because of the Democratic programs Social Security and Medicare, the aged are expensive for government to keep around.
Where's Gramps when we need him?