The opponents of Obama's Health Insurance for All Americans have given him a gift. They so overplayed their hand that they provided a golden opportunity for the president to show the American people how irrational, irresponsible and false their criticisms are.
Former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey claims that the bill will "absolutely require" end-of-life counseling for seniors "that will tell them how to end their life sooner." Rush Limbaugh states that "People out of a certain age, with certain diseases, will be deemed not worth the investment and they will just -- as Obama said, they'd give them some pain pills and let them loop out till they die, and they don't even know it's happened." On his radio show, Sean Hannity stated: "You know, welcome to the brave new world of Obamacare. We're going to encourage, you know, inconvenient people to consider 'alternatives to living.'" Antiabortion leader Randall Terry calls it an attempt to "kill Granny."
The president could say something along the following lines: "Those who seek to prevent you from having health insurance -- whatever happens to your job, whatever preconditions you have -- are using some of the most underhanded, misleading arguments ever made, even in extreme cases of partisan politics. I realize that you are busy working or seeking work, taking care of your families, and discharging many other duties, and cannot examine the small print of complex legislation. Hence, it is often difficult for you to find out who is playing on your emotions, pulling the wool over your eyes, and lying outrageously.
"But here is your chance. If you just take but a few minutes, you can see the kind of falsehood those who oppose Health Insurance for All Americans use to scare you. The draft bill contains a small payment for doctors, so that if you wish, once in every five years, you may consult with your doctor, about what you wish he or she should do if you are dying. There is no requirement for you to do anything. There is no requirement for your doctor to do anything. There are a few dollars set aside for a consultation, to be paid by your insurer."
"Once you see how low the opponents of health insurance are willing to stoop, you will find it easier to see through their other misstatements -- and to let your Congress member know that you have not been fooled."
Amitai Etzioni is a University Professor at The George Washington University and the author of The New Golden Rule (Basic Books, 1998). For more, please visit http://www.gwu.edu/~ccps/securityfirst.html. Etzioni can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.