On August 7, 2009, during the debate over the health care bill, Sarah Palin, then the Republican’s vice-presidential candidate, used the phrase “death panel” for the first time to describe Obamacare’s health-care rationing boards. She wrote the words in this paragraph 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.
Her “death panel” phrase infuriated many of the bill’s supporters. Among the most vociferous was Paul Krugman, the influential New York Times columnist. “(Krugman wrote ) 19 columns mentioning ‘death panels,’ almost all of them in a mocking tone,” the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights reported. “He has spoken of the ‘death panel smear’ (and) the ‘death panel lie.’” Other Obamacare supporters joined in ridiculing Palin and those who agreed with her.
That’s why it’s notable that, in a discussion about the problem of health-care costs this November 14 on ABC’s “This Week,” Krugman said, “Some years down the pike we’re going to get the real solution, which is going to be a combination of death panels and sales taxes.”
“So it turns out that all along Krugman’s ridicule was just a smoke screen: he’s wanted death panels from the get-go,” the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights said.
Krugman later tried to walk back his comment, but Nat Hentoff, the venerable commentator whose views vary from liberal to conservative depending on the issue, was having none of that. He addressed Krugman in a syndicated November 24 column:
Fess up, Krugman, you owe Sarah Palin an apology for so often scandal-mongering her. Also, professor, aside from the abortion wars, don’t most Americans agree that the most fundamental of all our rights is the right to life? Not the government’s right to our lives. When you said “death panels” on that Sunday morning, you knew and meant what you were saying. As an economist dedicated to deficit-reduction you were not lamenting the coming of death panels. Clearly, you were affirming their inevitability under President Obama’s determination to prevent government subsidization of “extreme care.”
Death panels await all of us and our families unless we stop and repeal Obamacare.