RNC chair Steele works to scare seniors about healthcare

The RNC chair pens a misleading Op-Ed for the Washington Post, pushing myths about healthcare reform

Topics: Michael Steele, Healthcare Reform, War Room,

In Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele’s defense, at least his Monday Op-Ed for the Washington Post didn’t explicitly mention the fictitious “death panels.” Unfortunately, that’s about the only thing that can be said in defense of the article – or of the Post’s decision to run it, for that matter.

In the piece, Steele outlines a Republican “Seniors’ Health Care Bill of Rights,” which will purportedly “ensure that our greatest generation will receive access to quality health care.” It’s, essentially, an attack on the elderly voters who form an important part of the Democratic Party’s base and who could be the key to passing – or defeating – healthcare reform. And so it follows some now-familiar paths, warning, for instance, of “government boards rationing treatments based on age.” (Read: “death panels.”)

Ironically, one of Steele’s first complaints – after he says that “President Obama’s plan for a government-run health-care system is the wrong prescription” – is of a potential cut in Medicare funding. As Time’s Joe Klein observes:

What makes Steele’s column especially hilarious is that it’s about health care for senior citizens – actually, it’s an attempt to scare senior citizens – but it never mentions that Medicare is “a government-run health-care system.” One would think that the Washington Post’s intrepid editors would have force Steele to cut or modify Steele’s lie about Obama’s “government-run” plan, and one would hope that the Post’s editors would ask Steele to point out the Medicare – the program he wants to “save” – is precisely such a plan.

This omission is made even more noticeable with Steele’s second point: “We need to prohibit government from getting between seniors and their doctors.”

There are numerous inaccuracies in the Op-Ed as well. In one of the more striking examples, Steele writes, “[I]f there are going to be only so many heart surgeries in a given year, the Democrats figure government will get more bang for its buck if more young and middle-aged people get them.”

At some point, that sentence may have had a loose relationship with reality. But by the time it was published, it didn’t even have much of a connection to the myths and misreadings from which it was drawn. What Steele was referring to was a popular falsehood that’s sprung up around Ezekiel Emanuel, a bioethicist and the brother of White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who’s advising the administration on reform. (My full debunking of the rumors surrounding Ezekiel Emanuel can be read here.) Emanuel and his coauthors have discussed, in an academic way, various principles for the distribution of certain scarce medical resources.

In that sense, Steele got within striking distance of the truth – that discussion applies to things like heart transplants, where there are a finite number of donor hearts available. But Steele wrote that the proposals Emanuel discussed applied to “heart surgeries,” which isn’t the case – indeed, Emanuel has specifically said that the system he’s pushing wouldn’t work for healthcare generally.

Steele also said that such the rationale for such a system is that “the Democrats figure government will get more bang for its buck if more young and middle-aged people get them.” That’s absurd, and the Post never should have allowed it to be printed. Ezekiel Emanuel and his coauthors aren’t accountants; they’re bioethicists working to come up with the best, most ethical solution to the problem of scarcity. In fact, the paper that’s cited on the right as evidence against Emanuel sums up their purpose and approach in its concluding sentence: “To achieve a just allocation of scarce medical interventions, society must embrace the challenge of implementing a coherent multiprinciple framework rather than relying on simple principles or retreating to the status quo.”

The RNC chair also alluded strongly to the claims that euthanasia is included in the current Democratic reform proposals, writing:

[W]e need to prevent government from dictating the terms of end-of-life care. Many of the most significant costs of care come in the last six months of a patient’s life, and every American household must consider how to treat their loved ones. Obama’s government-run health “reform” would pay for seniors’ meetings with a doctor to discuss end-of-life care. While nonthreatening at first, something that is quite normal for a family to do becomes troublesome when the government gets involved. Seniors know that government programs that seem benign at first can become anything but. The government should simply butt out of conversations about end-of-life care and leave them to seniors, their families and their doctors.

There are various problems with that whole thing as a factual assertion. But my former colleague Michael Scherer points out the most basic: Government wouldn’t be getting involved; it would simply provide Medicare coverage for the conversations between seniors and their doctors that Steele claims to support.

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 14
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

    One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

    In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

    Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

    We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

    On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

    Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

    The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

    Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

    While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

    As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

    Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

    Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

    There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>