Palin rewrites history on "death panels"

The former governor is still at one of her favorite subjects, and she's added a new untruth


Alex Koppelman
December 24, 2009 2:18AM (UTC)

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin just can't let go of her "death panels" myth. After getting back on the subject -- which Politifact recently named "Lie of the Year" -- on Twitter, on Wednesday Palin's Facebook page played host to yet another missive about it. This time, she sought to rewrite her own history, rather incredibly asserting that what she was referring to when she first mentioned "death panels" was an advisory board she claims would lead to healthcare rationing.

"Democrats are protecting this rationing 'death panel' from future change with a procedural hurdle. You have to ask why they’re so concerned about protecting this particular provision. Could it be because bureaucratic rationing is one important way Democrats want to 'bend the cost curve' and keep health care spending down?" Palin's post reads.

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"Though Nancy Pelosi and friends have tried to call 'death panels' the 'lie of the year,' this type of rationing – what the CBO calls 'reduc[ed] access to care' and 'diminish[ed] quality of care' – is precisely what I meant when I used that metaphor."

Even for Palin, this is pretty brazen. It wasn't "Nancy Pelosi and friends" who gave that title to the "death panels" myth; it was an independent, non-partisan organization devoted to fact-checking. And her claim that she was referring to rationing when she first used that term is easily proven false, just with a cursory examination of the record.

In the post in which she coined the term, Palin wrote:

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.

That's a whole lot different than a panel making broader judgments about care in the country at large -- even if it were engaged in "rationing," as Palin claims, it would still be different. Moreover, after that original post Palin and her people made it clear that she was referring to a provision (since stricken from the legislation) that would have ensured coverage for seniors who wanted advice on end-of-life planning.

In fact, Palin's statement on Facebook isn't even consistent with what she said on Twitter Tuesday, "[M]erged bill may b unrecognizable from what assumed was a done deal:R death panels back in?" The board referred to in her Facebook post couldn't be put "back in" the bill, because -- as she herself noted Wednesday -- it's in there now.


Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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