For most of his 30 or so years in public office, Johnny Isakson has been a gentleman — thoughtful, prudent, conservative but eminently reasonable. Lately, though, as his party has shifted to a confrontational, hard-right stance, led by Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck to oppose everything President Obama proposes, Isakson has shown signs of joining the know-nothing naysayers. In his Saturday response to the president’s weekly radio address, Isakson went all the way over to the dark side, distorting, misinforming and outright fabricating about the president’s health are reform plans.
Much of Isakson’s response (which wasn’t really a “response” since Obama discussed international affairs in his talk) was the typical deceitful blather — “government takeover,” etc. etc. If the government is taking over health care, why are private insurance companies so happy about millions of new customers?
But the fabrication Isakson added to the usual litany was this:
And it would still impose taxes on virtually every American and small business.
If you have insurance, you get taxed.
If you don’t have insurance, you get taxed.
If you’re an employer who cannot afford to provide health insurance to your employees, you get taxed.
It’s simply not true that “If you have insurance, you get taxed.” The Senate Finance Committee has proposed a tax on so-called Cadillac policies owned by a very few Americans. The rest of us may well be hit by higher insurance premiums, since several companies have already announced hikes, but not taxes imposed by the government.
Isakson knows better. He had already behaved shamefully when he backed away from support for a policy that he proposed two years ago: encouraging the elderly to seek counseling for end-of-life decisions. First, he rightfully told The Washingt Post that the controversy over end-of-life counseling was ridiculous:
“I just had a phone call where someone said Sarah Palin’s Web site had talked about the House bill having death panels on it where people would be euthanized. How someone could take an end-of-life directive, or a living will as that is nuts. You’re putting the authority in the individual rather than the government. I don’t know how that got so mixed up.”
But after Obama pointed out that Isakson supported end-of-life counseling, the senator, perhaps under pressure from GOP hard-liners, angrily backtracked. He issued a statement that said, in part:
“The White House and others are merely attempting to deflect attention from the intense negativity caused by their unpopular policies,” Isakson was quoted as saying. “I never consulted with the White House in this process and had no role whatsoever in the House Democrats’ bill. I categorically oppose the House bill and find it incredulous that the White House and others would use my amendment as a scapegoat for their misguided policies. My Senate amendment simply puts health care choices back in the hands of the individual and allows them to consider if they so choose a living will or durable power of attorney. The House provision is merely another ill-advised attempt at more government mandates, more government intrusion, and more government involvement in what should be an individual choice.”
It’s too bad Isakson has chosen to abandon intellectual honesty. Johnny, we hardly know ye.