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10 of the Nuttiest Statements Elected Officials Have Made in the Health Care Battle

Wild, over-the-top rhetoric and bizarre conspiracy theories about health reform aren't just coming from the right-wing blogs and talk-radio loudmouths.

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7. Health Care Reform Spawns Tenthers! 

You heard of " birthers" and probably know the health care debate has completed the cycle of life by giving us "deathers" (discussed below). 

But it's also spawned a generation of "tenthers" -- self-anointed right-wing constitutional scholars who insist that the Founding Fathers, no-doubt shilling for the insurance industry, enshrined ironclad prohibitions against the government helping Americans get halfway decent health care in the country's charter. 

And they include elected officials! 

The gist of their "argument" is that the 10th Amendment says that powers that aren't expressly given to the feds remain in the hands of the states. That's true, of course, but the Constitution doesn't grant the feds the power to build interstate highways, either. According to Think Progress

Tenther claims are far from the mainstream. In their world, landmark federal programs such as Medicare, Social Security, the federal highway system and rules regulating airplane safety are unconstitutional. In fact, the South "justified both secession and the Civil War on the theory that the Constitution is nothing more than a pact between sovereigns that each state is free to leave at will." 

Real constitutional scholars, of course, dismiss the claim as nonsense. But that hasn't kept a gaggle of Republican officials from jumping on the bandwagon, including Minnesota's Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty -- a potential candidate for the White House in 2012; Texas Gov. Rick "the Hair" Perry, who toyed with the idea of secession before a crowd of "tea-party" activists earlier in the year; Sens. Jim Demint, R-S.C. and Tom Coburn, R-Okla.; and a handful of  GOP House members. (Pawlenty later backed away from his statement.) 

How thoughtful are the tenthers? The Wall Street Journal offered a report about befuddled Georgia State Sen. Judson Hill proclaiming at a gathering of like-minded lawmakers, "The 10th Amendment protects us from such federal mandates." But when asked whether "the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which grants Congress the right to regulate and enforce matters related to interstate commerce, would interfere with their plan," the Journal informs us "Hill could not say."

When asked if "Medicare, which is government-run health care for seniors, would also then be unconstitutional," Hill was unsure.

"That's a good question," he replied, "I don't know yet. We'll fight that battle when it comes before us."

Medicare was established by an act of Congress in 1965.

8. Astroturf Groups Are Just Like Revolutionary War Heroes … or Something

The whole summer of outrage -- with its "tea parties," its loud displays of "patriotism" and dark whispers of revolution -- was nothing short of bizarre. Perhaps swept up in the fervor, Iowa's Steve King (who is now, I suppose, the champion), took to the floor of the House to warn of a "great diminishment of American freedom" if health care reform were to pass.

"If the Founding Fathers could stand in here tonight," he said, "the tears would be running down their cheeks."

He then compared busloads of protesters sent to Washington by deep-pocketed corporate lobbyists to Paul Revere.

If King were a fictional character rather than an actual voting member of our legislature, he would be endlessly entertaining.

9. When You Can't Oppose Something Rationally, Just Tell People It'll Kill 'Em!

And when telling people that socialism is creeping up just over the horizon fails to stir up their ire, up the ante and promise them that reformers are bent on nothing short of killing off American citizens in order to control health costs . These are the "deathers."