This “death panels” stupidity is killing me

Right-wing blogs have seized on comments OMB Director Peter Orszag made on April 8 at the Economic Club of Washington to claim that he admitted that there are “death panels” in the new health care law.

Will this ridiculousness ever stop?

The latest iteration is just a recycled version of a previous death panels claim that was debunked back in December.

Today, Gateway Pundit's Jim Hoft claimed that “Sarah Palin was right” and posted a video clip of Orszag's comments, complete with Breitbart TV's dubious title: “Obama's Budget Director: Powerful Rationing Panel (Not Doctors) Will Control Health Care Levels.”

The “powerful rationing panel” is the Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board. Here are Orszag's comments highlighted in the video being pushed by Breitbart and the right-wing blogs:

ORSZAG: Well, let me just first pause and point out that's exactly what we just created for Medicare. So this Independent Payment Advisory Board has the power and the responsibility to put forward proposals to hit a pretty aggressive set of targets over the long term. And furthermore, the proposals take effect automatically, unless Congress not only specifically votes them down but the President signs that bill. So the default is now switched in a very important way on the biggest driver over long-term cost, which is the Medicare program.

DAVID RUBENSTEIN [President, Economic Club of Washington]: Was that explained to Members of Congress very carefully?

ORSZAG: Yes, it was and that's why this was something that was very difficult to actually - this is why I think it was underappreciated, that this is a very substantial change. Again, a lot will depend on whether it realizes its potential, and how the culture develops, but it has statutory power to put forward proposals to reduce healthcare cost growth overtime and improve quality,and those proposals take effect automatically if Congress ignores them, or if Congress votes them down and the President vetoes that bill. So in other words, inertia now plays to the side of this independent board.

Palin herself tried in vain in December to push this claim that the Independent Payment Advisory Board amounted to a “death panel.” Dick Morris also pushed it on Fox News, falsely claiming that the board will say “you can't treat this person with colon cancer with the best drug available.”

In fact, the health care law specifically prohibits the Advisory Board from “any recommendations to ration health care ... or otherwise restrict benefits.”

Sarah Palin was not right, contrary to what Hoft claimed. She was very, very wrong -- no matter how many times her right-wing defenders push this debunked nonsense.