Well, the good news is that the debt deal isn’t as bad as it could have been. The bad news is, it’s still terrible. The White House, which misplayed the whole thing from the start (Note to Obama: the party that sets the agenda wins; when will you learn that?), caved in order to prevent default on the nation’s debts. The Republicans got most of what they wanted, and the Dems got almost nothing. It’s now official. The United States has committed itself to paying for tax cuts for the rich with the benefits for the poorest and most vulnerable. With all of the emphasis on budget cutting, there will be no further stimulus, and the recession will drag on and on as Washington turns its back on the middle class and sacrifices the country’s future to appease the fury of a handful of Tea Party nuts. In the end, extortion worked. Whatever happened to the idea of not negotiating with terrorists?
End of life counseling is back as a political issue after the president decided to add it to Obamacare by executive fiat. If you remember, this was one of the things that led to Sarah Palin’s infamous “death panel” fiction that caused such a furor over the summer. What is proposed, in the real world, is that insurance companies pay for helping terminally ill patients and their families make appropriate decisions for their medical care. That this is an issue at all is a sign of how toxic our politics have become. I’ve been involved in those decisions for two of my step-parents and for my father, and I remain forever grateful for the information that helped my family make the difficult decisions about what course the remaining days of our parents’ lives should take. Without the expert advice of doctors and hospice care nurses, I can only imagine what a struggle their last days might have been. To blindly oppose allowing other families to make those choices, solely for political gain, is worse than callous–it’s positively evil.