Political Notebook

Democrats have sharp reply to Palin’s talk of death panels

Sarah Palin revived talk about death panels in a Wall Street Journal oped piece yesterday. Sarah Palin revived talk about death panels in a Wall Street Journal oped piece yesterday. (Associated Press/ File)
Globe Staff / September 10, 2009

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The idea of “death panels’’ - hardhearted government bureaucrats who would decide when to pull the plug on terminally ill patients - has been rather thoroughly debunked.

But former Alaska governor Sarah Palin raised the specter again in an oped piece published in The Wall Street Journal yesterday, on the eve of President Obama’s much-anticipated health care speech.

“In an interview with The New York Times in April, the president suggested that such a group, working outside of ‘normal political channels,’ should guide decisions regarding that ‘huge driver of cost . . . the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives,’ ’’ Palin wrote.

“Given such statements, is it any wonder that many of the sick and elderly are concerned that the Democrats’ proposals will ultimately lead to rationing of their health care by - dare I say it - death panels? Establishment voices dismissed that phrase, but it rang true for many Americans. . . . [T]he fact remains that the Democrats’ proposals would still empower unelected bureaucrats to make decisions affecting life or death health care matters,’’ she added in the opinion piece, most of which repeats the Republican mantra that too much government would make health care worse, not better.

After the political firestorm, bipartisan negotiators on the Senate Finance Committee agreed to drop the end-of-life provision.

The Democratic National Committee hit back at Palin, last year’s Republican vice presidential nominee. “The way Sarah Palin is trying to scare Americans you’d think it’s Halloween already,’’ DNC spokesman Hari Sevugan said in a statement. “What the American people find truly scary is that insurance rates have doubled this decade . . . and what Sarah Palin should find truly scary is that her reputation as a serious leader can in fact sink even lower than it already has when she continues to stand by such outlandish claims.’’


Kerry’s new initiative links climate change, security
WASHINGTON - Senator John F. Kerry plans today to help launch an initiative to educate lawmakers and the public about the security threats posed by climate change.

Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will be the keynote speaker at a symposium cosponsored by the American Security Project, a bipartisan nonprofit established in Washington last year.

The organization will unveil a new report, the Climate Security Index, that spells out how famine, water shortages, and other predicted consequences of climate change could increase terrorism and spark new war if left unchecked.

The group is also launching a new television ad. “Scientists and military experts agree: The next global hot spot won’t be a spot at all,’’ the announcer warns over an image of the planet. “Global warming threatens our security.’’

Kerry, who is on the board of directors of the American Security Project, is helping to craft legislation to curb carbon emissions and has used his perch on the foreign relations panel to give voice to a growing number of national security specialists - including retired generals and admirals - who have warned that the instability created by global warming will draw the United States into more conflict in the coming decades.


Frank talks of Cabinet aspirations in new book
Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s posthumously published memoir got all the ink last week, but he’s not the only Massachusetts lawmaker profiled in a new book.

A biography of Representative Barney Frank is to be published this month by the University of Massachusetts Press.

In “Barney Frank: The Story of America’s Only Left-Handed, Gay, Jewish Congressman,’’ the Newton Democrat tells author Stuart Weisberg that a capstone to his political career would be to join President Obama’s Cabinet, USA Today reports on its political blog.

But he’s not quite ready to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development, where the secretary is now Shaun Donovan, a former New York City housing commissioner. “I want at least two years with President Obama and a solidly Democratic Senate so that we can get the federal government back in the housing business,’’ Frank says in the book.

The book is available for pre-order on, and according to the jacket blurb, Weisberg interviewed more than 150 people to capture Frank in “all his quirkiness, irreverence, and complexity.’’