We always thought the Senate was the place for civil discourse on the issues of the day. Maybe it still is. But when senators start arguing about health care and death panels on Twitter, all bets are off.
Death panel became the shorthand for claims by opponents of health overhaul that a provision in a House bill on end-of-life counseling would lead to government-ordered euthanasia.
Senator Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, is clearly ticked off at the recently ex-GOPer Arlen Specter, the senior senator from Pennsylvania. Just a little while ago Grassley fired this salvo Specter's way:
What did Arlen tweet, you ask? From his BlackBerry to you:
Called Senator Grassley to tell him to stop speading myths about health care reform and imaginary "death panels."
Followed quickly by:
Had to leave a message - for now. I will talk to him soon.
On Thursday, Grassley made a big deal about negotiators on the Senate Finance Committee dropping end-of-life counseling from consideration because, as his statement put it:
[T]here's a big difference between a simple educational campaign, as some advocates want, and the way the House committee-passed bill pays physicians to advise patients about end of life care and rates physician quality of care based on the creation of and adherence to orders for end-of-life care, while at the same time creating a government-run program that is likely to lead to the rationing of care for everyone.
Earlier in the week Grassley went a little further before a good-sized crowd in Winterset, Iowa, as reported by the Iowa Independent:
In the House bill, there is counseling for end of life.You have every right to fear. You shouldn't have counseling at the end of life, you should have done that 20 years before. Should not have a government run plan to decide when to pull the plug on grandma.
So maybe Grassley is right that he never said "death panels" or "death board." But was Specter so far off, given Grassley's "pull the plug on grandma" comment? You be the judge.