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Democrats Accuse Republicans of Mass Murder

The argument carries a powerful emotional charge but it isn't a particularly constructive or clear-minded way to think or talk about writing laws.

Erik McGregor/Sipa USA/NewscomErik McGregor/Sipa USA/NewscomSo the Democrats, after opposing Donald Trump in the 2016 election partly out of what they claimed was concern about his incivility and coarseness, are now pursuing a debate about health care legislation in Washington by characterizing the Republicans who disagree with them about policy details as mass murderers.

Think that's an exaggeration?

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party's 2016 presidential candidate who remains among its most prominent and mainstream voices, tweeted Friday: "If Republicans pass this bill, they're the death party."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) tweeted, "I've read the Republican 'health care' bill. This is blood money. They're paying for tax cuts with American lives."

Ezra Levin, an influential Washington organizer of the resistance to Trump, tweeted Sunday, "TrumpCare will kill tens of thousands of working class people, and with the savings it cuts taxes for billionaires."

This line of argument carries a powerful emotional charge. It isn't, though, a particularly useful, constructive, or clear-minded way to think or talk about writing laws.

To start with, there's the Washington-centric misconception that the killers are the congressmen. Disregarded are any other actors who play roles in our health care system. If federal politicians are murderers for adjusting health care laws, what about all the state-level politicians who failed to enact Mitt Romney-style comprehensive coverage in their own states before Obamacare? Were they also murderers for failing to act? What about doctors and hospitals who refuse to treat non-emergency patients who are uninsured and can't pay? The system could probably treat more people if doctors, nurses, and medical-device and drug-company executives earned less money. Does that make every BMW-driving surgeon a murderer? Is every individual American a murderer who spends any discretionary income on movies or trips to Disney World rather than charitable donations earmarked for uncompensated care to his local hospital?

It may well be that as a moral matter, voluntarily paying for a poor person's health care is a superior use of money than driving a fancy car or taking an expensive vacation. But an individual's choice to consume rather than donate doesn't make that individual a murderer, or even a killer. Neither does a congressman's decision not to compel the individual, by taxing him, to do so. The failure of Democrats to recognize this signals a fundamental confusion.

There's also a false certainty in the claim that higher taxes for more health insurance will translate into extended lives. Some of the more honest Democrats acknowledge this if one listens to them carefully. Even Sen. Bernie Sanders, for example, in repeating an exaggerated claim that TrumpCare would cause 28,000 unnecessary deaths, conceded, "Nobody, obviously, knows exactly what would happen."

Obviously.

The "Harvard" study—really more of a blog post by one Harvard professor, two non-Harvard medical students, and two scholars at a liberal think-tank—that Sanders and Clinton cite is more nuanced than they claim. It mentions two studies—"outlier results"—raising doubts about whether insurance coverage translated into better health. It concedes, accurately, "insurance is a necessary but not sufficient factor to receive quality health care." Ironically, its model for projecting what it calls "excess deaths" is based entirely on extrapolation from "analyses of the Massachusetts health reform." Again, that is a state-level reform of the sort that might have spread organically and successfully if President Obama and the Democrats in Congress hadn't decided to impose it nationally.

Democratic accusations about additional deaths are often made without any price tag attached. Assume, for the moment, that Democrats are right that money should be taken away from higher earners and redistributed instead for the purpose of extending life-years or improving health.

There's a whole universe of possible interventions other than subsidizing heath insurance or Medicaid. Auto-ignition breathalyzers to prevent drunk-driving accidents, a nationwide 55-mile-an-hour speed limit with aggressive enforcement, disabling texting from cellphones in moving cars, some sort of intervention in Syria—all might, at least potentially, save more lives at a lower cost.

Failing to enact these measures doesn't make politicians murderers, or even the moral equivalent of murderers. It's just a political difference of opinion.

Photo Credit: Erik McGregor/Sipa USA/Newscom

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  • widget||

    From David Burge (Iowahawk):

    "To help poor children, I am going to launch flaming accordions into the Grand Canyon."
    "That's stupid."
    "WHY DO YOU HATE POOR CHILDREN?"

    David used to post at H&R from time to time.

  • ||

    "To help poor children, I am going to launch flaming accordions into the Grand Canyon."
    "That's stupid."
    "WHY DO YOU HATE POOR CHILDREN?"

    I never said not to launch flaming accordions into the Grand Canyon but then, just that it doesn't stop me from hating poor children.

  • Rhywun||

    The failure of Democrats to recognize this signals a fundamental confusion.

    You're making the assumption that they're arguiung in good faith rather than purposefully lying through their teeth in order to misdirect voters.

  • ||

    Thank god we as libertarians never accuse anyone of mass murder.

    I blame the libertarian-leaning democrats for not being more vocal.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    What libertarian leaning democrats?

  • widget||

    Bill Maher?

    I don't watch his show so my information on him is spotty. I do know he has claimed to a libertarian from time to time and seems to be positive on free speech.

    I am puzzled about why he apologized for the 'house nigger' joke though. The attention span of an SJW is only about 2 days. He could have said squat and let it blow away until the next week.

  • ChipToBeSquare||

    You're probably wrong on that. His show would be over without the apology and he'd be relegated to a channel or platform with less of an audience. Though it seems like the SJWs constantly move on, they hold onto these grudges forever, even if they may not be actively protesting. I have to believe he was told to do an apology episode or he was out

    And he only called himself libertarian because of his beliefs on the drug war and (though he has declined) free speech. He's a partisan hack 95% of the time, although to his credit he's also willing to engage in uncomfortable discussions on terrorism sometimes

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I've always taken issue with the fact that people keep saying he's funny. Never got that from him. Not even a chuckle.

  • Bill||

    Oh now. He is funny about 5% of the time.
    Don't be so harsh!

  • fdog50||

    I think he also claims to be a libertarian because of legalized abortion, which he sees as a great strategy in paternity suits: "Here, I'll pay for your abortion, don't bother me with demands for child support."

  • SIV||

    Cato crowd

  • Hank Phillips||

    No need. The looters, bigots and berserkers all accuse each other. What we need is for voters to remember what our opponents say about each other as they enter the voting booth.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Has anyone done a study tallying how many Americans have been murdered by regulatory bureaucracy?

  • Longtobefree||

    Just the VA

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I still assert that in a state of pure freedom (perhaps an anarcho-capitalist system, some extreme) everyone would live forever. Thus, I ascribe all deaths everywhere to the state.

    I encourage the government to move towards anarcho-capitalism to test my theory.

  • prolefeed||

    If they were talking about the drone killings or the permawars in the Mideast, I'd be inclined to believe the charges of mass murder. Course, their guy engaged in that prior to getting term limited, so that would possibly backfire.

  • ChipToBeSquare||

    I like to accuse every president of mass murder as a starting point for any political discussion

    For the left it's funny seeing them go from clearly thinking I must be racist for hating Obama to them doing some sort of mental gymnastics to justify why dead, displaced, tortured, or starving brown people halfway around the world aren't as important as transgender bathrooms or whatever

    At least the right has their go-to catchphrases about the War on Terror ready to go ahead of time

  • XM||

    The fact that the media and the "fact checkers" aren't taking the democrats to task over this sort of rhetoric is another indication that despite some of his bluster, Trump is mostly right about the media.

    At worst, sick people will be stuck with high hospital bills. American hospitals do not actually turn away people near death because they can't pay. When has something like that ever happened - enough to be a concerning trend? I wasn't on medicaid for most of my adult life before ACA. OMG, I must have been awaiting a certain execution order all my life.

    The CBO's projection of devastating future fatalities are literally (literally) millions of people who MIGHT not purchase insurance. And a chunk of that are people who will voluntarily drop coverage. The CBO is counting future "uninsured" victims if and when states stop expanding medicaid. But at the same breath, they admit that if states drop the various mandates, premiums will go down for young people as new markets will emerge to cater to their needs.

  • mortiscrum||

    RE: At worst, sick people will be stuck with high hospital bills. American hospitals do not actually turn away people near death because they can't pay.

    I'm going to quibble with this point. A person's health isn't a video game stat. It doesn't go down low, and if they can get to the hospital it goes back up. Not having insurance or reasonable access to care leads to someone not doing to the doctor when they otherwise would have, and possibly end up with a far worse, even deadly condition, than if they'd just gone to begin with.

    There's also a sizable amount of evidence that for the benefits of the peace of mind of having insurance. People are less stressed, and that's a good thing. Also, financial security can't be overlooked or understated.

    I completely agree that the murder charge is silly - the article does a good job of why. But that doesn't conversely mean that insurance isn't that useful and access to care can just be cut without harm.

  • ||

    There's also a sizable amount of evidence that for the benefits of the peace of mind of having insurance. People are less stressed, and that's a good thing. Also, financial security can't be overlooked or understated.

    This is both inherent nonsense and demonstrable bullshit. People don't get over diabetes, gunshot wounds, and heart disease by simply feeling better. Moreover and more importantly, taking a penny or a pound from someone else and buying their medical financial security only buys them a transient security rather than intrinsically imparting some them penny- or pound-wisdom.

  • mortiscrum||

    RE: People don't get over diabetes, gunshot wounds, and heart disease by simply feeling better.

    Obviously, which is why they need access to care. And just showing up at the emergency room is a terribly inefficient way to provide care. It makes the entire system cost more.

    To make my point more clear, if people don't have basic coverage, they are much more likely to forgo regular checkups and examinations. Someone with minor but persistent symptoms will probably ignore them if they don't have some kind of health coverage, but when it turns out to be kidney disease, and they don't see a doctor until kidney failure, it ends up costing more, as well as making their life worse.

    My point is that having some level of basic care is a real improvement in quality of life, as well as potentially being an actual lifesaver.

  • Sevo||

    Don't you ever get tired of slinging lefty bullshit?

    "Obviously, which is why they need access to care. And just showing up at the emergency room is a terribly inefficient way to provide care. It makes the entire system cost more."
    Prove it.

    "To make my point more clear, if people don't have basic coverage, they are much more likely to forgo regular checkups and examinations. Someone with minor but persistent symptoms will probably ignore them if they don't have some kind of health coverage, but when it turns out to be kidney disease, and they don't see a doctor until kidney failure, it ends up costing more, as well as making their life worse."
    Prove it.

    "My point is that having some level of basic care is a real improvement in quality of life, as well as potentially being an actual lifesaver."
    The first is nice; YOU pay for it if it makes you happy.
    The second is more bullshit.

    The entire steaming pile here has been spouted by lefty imbeciles for years and has yet to be shown to be more than fantasy.
    Prove it or STFU.

  • ||

    The fact that the media and the "fact checkers" aren't taking the democrats to task over this sort of rhetoric is another indication that despite some of his bluster, Trump is mostly right about the media.

    Not just taking them to task but, as near as I can tell, actively carrying water for them. I've heard several times across several outlets, more than a couple of speakers say in near-literally the same breath that 'Yes, Obamacare is failing but without an individual mandate the GOP plan will drive up costs and provide worse coverage for the people who need it most.' Like the blame shift has already been made and they are criticizing republicans for charging higher prices to offer cruddy virtual coverage.

    Not that team stupid hasn't earned it or couldn't have seen it coming but that nobody should be confused about the media.

  • Spinach Chin||

    You're missing the point. They know it's bullshit, but the point is The Narrative.

  • mortiscrum||

    I'm sure the D politicians know it's bullshit, but I'm not so sure about the voters. I've seen a fair amount of people on Facebook who push this exact idea: making a good-faith argument that cutting Medicaid is akin to murder.

  • utabintarbo||

    Is this level of ignorance even worthy of a response, or even notice? It's not like any reasoned argument will make any impression on such people anyway.

  • Ron||

    I've seen that as well on facebook. Cuts kill no matter where the cut is

  • damikesc||

    It'd work better if a Democrat didn't just recently attempt to commit mass murder fairly recently.

  • ||

    Attempt? What do you call a sucess, then? Oh, you meant that idiot that can´t shoot for shit...

  • damikesc||

    Yeah. They didn't pick their best shot to do this. But, the man planned it out well. It's why I won't say he was "crazy". He knew what he was doing. He was just unlucky that a high-ranking Congressman was there.

  • creech||

    I just don't understand. The Dems had all the power to pass Obamacare but refused to make it wonderful and expansive enough to save every life. So, aren't they culpable, too, as the "death party" for refusing to make the "right" of health care available and free to every living soul in the United States?

  • Longtobefree||

    I hereby state, and require every 'news outlet' to repeat endlessly, that every person who has died since Obamacare was passed was murdered by Obama because the law did not go all the way to full socialized medicine. He had the votes, and did not do it right, so he is to blame for each and every death. Up against the wall.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I genuinely can't recall the last time I heard policy discussion in the media. That is, people arguing different ideas back and forth and their pros and cons.

  • Sanjuro Tsubaki||

    They're starving children, I tell ya. Works every time with the Dem's stupid, shiftless voters.

  • Johnimo||

    Isn't the ethanol mandate, which its propagator Al Gore now admits was a mistake, the same as "murdering" the poor starving folks all around the globe? The Republicans simply need to step up their own rhetoric to match that of the left wing hate mongers.

  • Hank Phillips||

    What is absolutely clear is that banning or crippling electrical generation correlates perfectly with increasing the death rate. Also, publicly available raw temperature data shows decreasing averages since 1920, and especially over the past couple of decades. Electric power generation and access to energy in general is the ONLY real difference between the socialist Dems and their fascist GO-Pee antagonists. "Both parties" copy their health and pensions planks out of the 1920s socialist and nationalsocialist platforms, and "both parties" agree that the initiation of coercive, harmful and deadly force is a wonderful sacrifice for altruism.

  • Delius||

    I don't even understand how they are counting these deaths. If someone dies of an incurable cancer at 65, but with aggressive treatment could have survived until 70, is that an additional death? Everyone dies, eventually.

  • Fk_Censorship||

    So do you know who else was in favor of mass murder?

  • meta||

    Lincoln?

  • Africanis||

    Did you know that if the people all across the world do not give me a billion dollars thousands of people will die!!!!
    I know some smart ass will probably tell me thousands of people will die even if they give me a billion dollars! I will tell them they hate children and probably want to push old ladies off a cliff. Oh and kick cute puppies, yes you want to kick cute little fluffy puppies for fun. Now, GIMME DA MONEY!

  • Darth Soros||

    Shouldn't the "liberals" like Republicans, then? I mean, Stalin, Uncle Ho, Fidel, Mao . . . all those guys have had huge numbers of "liberals" excusing them or actually admiring them.

  • Ron||

    lets see more death equals less CO2, less global warming. i guess the republicans are green after all

  • gphx||

    The government forcing less people to pay money to a private corporation at gunpoint every month doesn't kill people.

    What kills people is the ACA - forcing people to pay money to a private corporation at gunpoint every month to the extent after paying premiums they don't have enough left in the budget to pay copays and deductibles so they forego routine care until their issues are catastrophic and it's too late. The insurance companies would say that's great - you paid your premiums and now you're too dead to collect - perfect!

  • JohnD||

    What a disgusting thing to say. The liberals have the murder of millions of babies on their hands but the Repubs are the "Death Party"? What irony.

  • Empress Trudy||

    Democrats have nothing left except screaming like children.

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