Thursday, March 25, 2010

No wrong answer here

If you've been following the health care reform debate lately, you know that the House passed the Senate version of the bill Sunday night. Then it sent some amendments to the Senate that had to be passed in their entirety in order to avoid another House vote on those amendments.

So, the Republicans in the Senate offered all sorts of amendments. The one that seemed to get the most publicity was presented by Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who proposed the "No Erectile Dysfunction Drugs To Sex Offenders" amendment. It was described this way:

"This amendment would enact recommendations from the Government Accountability Office to stop fraudulent payments for prescription drugs prescribed by dead providers or, to dead patients. This amendment also prohibits coverage of Viagra and other ED medications to convicted child molesters, rapists, and sex offenders, and prohibits coverage of abortion drugs."

Naturally, if this had been brought up during the debate, it would have been passed easily -- since no representatives (no people, period, in fact) wants to pay for Viagra for child molesters. But it's obviously a procedural attempt to force a House vote -- since the alternative would be ads from the nut groups saying, "Senator Xxxx voted in favor of giving Viagra to sex offenders." It's rather ugly and transparent, not to mention a waste of time, and it didn't help the vote.

However, while briefly listening to Rush Limbaugh today (always good to check in on what all sides are saying in these times of explosive rhetoric, even if a few minutes is all I can stand), he said that Democrats really want to give such drugs to sex offenders, and he couldn't wait for the TV commercials. Limbaugh even criticized a Senator for labeling the amendment "a trap," which it clearly is.

The radio host is certainly sophisticated enough to know the background of the situation and thus is being deliberately provocative in order to generate strong emotions among the audience.

So which is worse: the Senator who would take the low road and give the extremists a weapon for further over-the-top rhetoric, or the talk show host who deliberately misinterprets it to fan those flames for his own benefit?

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