It never ends

IT NEVER ENDS…. A month ago, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) became one of a very small number of GOP officials, and the only member of the House Republican leadership, to criticize right-wing activists’ tactics. She conceded that some conservatives were going too far.

That was mid-August. Now, McMorris-Rodgers is trying to get those same activists agitated again, lying to them with rhetoric about death-panels for special-needs children.

Surrounded by a group of parents clutching pictures of their special needs children, two Republican members of Congress stood in front of the Capitol on Tuesday and warned that President Obama’s proposed health care system will lead to a rationing of care for children with disabilities.

GOP Reps. Trent Franks of Arizona and Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington said at a news conference that government-run health care systems, wherever they exist in the world, inevitably force health providers to refuse care to people with chronically-ill family members in order to reduce costs. Both members of Congress said the issue hits close to home: McMorris-Rodgers has a son with Down Syndrome, and Franks was born with a cleft palate.

“Whenever there is pressure on government to cut costs, and that is ostensibly the purpose here, the reality is a lot of times the doctors take their hands off the situation,” Franks said. He also predicted that the president’s health care legislation will lead to “the largest expansion of abortion since Roe vs. Wade.”

Asked for proof that Democratic proposals would lead to this nightmare, McMorris-Rodgers said she didn’t have any, but said parents were worried about it anyway. They’re worried, of course, because truth-challenged lawmakers hold ridiculous press conferences like the one McMorris-Rodgers hosted yesterday. (Asked how she’d recommend helping parents with children with disabilities, McMorris-Rodgers recommended more tax breaks.)

I realize this has a dog-bites-man quality. “Republican lawmakers lie about health care reform” isn’t exactly a stop-the-presses headline.

But this was nevertheless striking to me. Sarah Palin brought up the notion of panels that would ration care for special-needs children six weeks ago, and it was immediately deemed hopelessly wrong and willfully dishonest. Six weeks later, we have Reps. Trent Franks and Cathy McMorris Rodgers are repeating the exact same lie, knowing that a) some worried families might believe this nonsense; b) the media is reluctant to call out those who tell these lies; and c) there will be no consequences for their dishonesty.

Why has the debate over health care reform been farcical? Why is the notion of “bipartisan compromise” a foolish daydream? This press conference is Exhibit A.