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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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Even by the standards of our typically debased public discourse, one has to step back and marvel for a moment at the sheer, unmitigated craziness the debate over health care reform has elicited from the right wing.

It hasn't been the usual conservative boilerplate -- blather about "tort reform" or dubious "analyses" predicting the latest proposal would break the budget and blow up the national debt. We've been treated to some truly extreme, and sometimes bizarre, arguments about American health care and even lied to about what the proposed health reform bills contained.

We're accustomed to that kind of hyperbole from hate-radio and the conservative bloggers, but this summer it hasn't been limited to Rush Limbaugh fulminating about socialism or Glenn Beck weepily warning that the Dems' health care legislation are stealthy reparations for slavery.

What makes the ocean of crazy surrounding this debate truly remarkable is that the overheated, ill-informed spew is also coming from the mouths of actual public officials, people tasked with creating legislation. National office holders -- not loopy local GOP party chairs, but people who supposedly represent the interests of entire congressional districts and earn a public salary -- have offered up months of bizarre tales about our health care system and the effort to reform it that are every bit as outlandish as anything scribbled on an overheated right-wing blog.

The most charitable view is that some of the lawmakers who oppose reform most vehemently just have no clue what they're talking about. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., whom some have dubbed "the dumbest senator of them all," suggested as much when asked what he didn't like about the reform bill.

"I don't have to read it or know what's in it. I'm going to oppose it anyways," he told Grady County Express Star . According to the report, "information provided by news media have helped [Inhofe] become a staunch non-supporter of the bill." In other words, his opposition is firmly grounded in whatever he's picked up from the fair-and-balanced conservative media.

Whether examples of dumb-as-a-box-of-rocks ignorance or intentional obfuscation, here are some of the craziest things that have been said about health care this summer by real-live elected officials.

It's by no means comprehensive!

1. Policy Terminated!

The thing that makes the rhetoric against health care reform so outlandish is how divorced it is from reality.

The Democrats' health care proposals, as any critic on the left can tell you, are rather compromised, incremental reforms that won't directly impact the vast majority of Americans who have decent health care already. It has a public insurance option, but only 1 in 50 Americans would be covered by it in 2019. According to the Congressional Budget Office, it wouldn't add to the deficit. It's moderate.

Although the legislation is obviously significant, it's tough to portray as a radical and frightening shift in our health care system. So opponents in Congress have taken the novel approach of arguing against a bill that doesn't exist.

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, warned that the House reform bill "cancels every [health insurance] policy" in America. "[House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi's agenda takes every [policy] away," King told MSNBC.

Not to be outdone, Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann -- always a favorite of lazy left-wing bloggers on the hunt for a gem -- told Fox News the House bill wouldmake private insurance illegal.

2. Health Care Crisis? What Health Care Crisis?

One often hears that virtually everyone agrees that the American health care system has deep, deep problems, even as they disagree on exactly where the problems lie and how they should be fixed.