It looks harmless enough: Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon has stuck an amendment into the health care reform bill that would let Medicare reimburse doctors for giving patients counseling about end-of-life care.
To hear Republicans in Congress tell it, though, the Blumenauer amendment means the black helicopters will soon be swooping down on the lawn to carry Granny off to the crematorium.
As quoted by Media Matters for America, Ohio Rep. John Boehner, the House minority leader (not to mention three-time winner of the Mr. Hawaiian Tropic title), warned that the Blumenauer amendment "may place seniors in situations where they feel pressured to sign end of life directives they would not otherwise sign. This provision may start us down a treacherous path toward government-encouraged euthanasia if enacted into law. ...
"With three states having legalized physician-assisted suicide, this provision could create a slippery slope for a more permissive environment for euthanasia, mercy-killing and physician-assisted suicide because it does not clearly exclude counseling about the supposed benefits of killing oneself."
On the Huffington Post site Blumenauer has compiled an amusing collection of other Republican loony-toon comments about his amendment, including a claim by Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina that it would "put seniors in the position of being put to death by their government!"
In contrast to these horrific GOP visions, "In fact, [Blumenauer's] bill is written to allow senior citizens access to a professional medical counselor who will provide them with any information they might need - regarding will preparation, medical power of attorney, and, yes, end of life decisions. These counseling sessions are not mandatory, they are simply made available to those who wish to use the service because they are unable to receive the information from another source," Media Matters explains.
Incidentally, as reported by Willamette Week, those disciples of death, the American Medical Association and the Oregon Medical Association, both support the Blumenauer amendment.
Of course, John Boehner (appearances to the contrary notwithstanding) is not a complete idiot (we reserve comment about Ms. Foxx) and he knows quite well that the Blumenauer amendment is not going to lead America down treacherous paths and slippery slopes to the Fourth Reich.
So why are he and other Republicans acting like their heads are about to explode? It's obvious, isn't it? Get Americans to oppose health care reform by confusing and frightening them - even it takes a string of bare-assed lies to accomplish it.
Fifty-five years ago, disgusted with the tactics of Joseph McCarthy, Army Counsel Joseph N. Welch famously asked the Wisconsin senator: "Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"
There seems no point in asking John Boehner the same question today. The answer already is clear.