Fox News' Kirsten Powers Falsely Claims Bush Supported Earlier End-Of-Life Law

-By Warner Todd Huston

On the Sean Hannity Show on Fox News this week, Democrat Kirsten Powers offered some misinformed political analysis. Naturally, her analysis heavily favored the Obama administration's goals. On the Dec. 27 show Powers insisted that inflamed talk about Obama's "death panels" was nothing but a cynical spin meant to attack Obama because, she asserted, back in 2008 Bush and his administration supported the end-of-life provisions.

Where was your outrage in 2008 when the Bush administration said that Medicare would reimburse end of life counseling?

Well, was this to be true it would be awfully dishonest of Republicans to be opposing Obama's death panels now when Bush wanted the same thing, right? Yes, it sure would. Sadly for Powers' failed analysis, Bush vetoed the very bill she claimed his administration supported. As it happened, the bill -- which was called the Medicare Improvement for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 -- was passed over Bush's veto because the Democrats had the majority in Congress at the time.

So, Powers is wrong to claim that "the Bush administration said that Medicare would reimburse end of life counseling." The Bush administration said no such thing and actually vetoed the bill. That is the fact of the matter. Powers even refused to accept that she was wrong on this fact. A few minutes later claimed that it "just isn't true" that Bush vetoed the bill. Here she utterly she failed as an analyst. She is uninformed. Plain, out wrong.

Over at HotAir, Green Room blogger SusanAnne Hiller was the first to bring this to our attention. But even she got the mater slightly wrong. Hiller was a bit misleading herself when she said that, "President Bush vetoed the 2008 bill with the end-of-life provision in it and it was the Democrat Congress that overrode the veto and forced it into law."

By coupling her discussion of the veto with the end-of-life provision discussion in the context with this incident with Powers, Hiller made it seem as if Bush vetoed the bill because of the end-of-life provision.

It is true that in 2008 Bush vetoed the Medicare Improvement for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 but there is no evidence that Bush did so because of the end-of-life provision. When President Bush issued his veto statement he didn't mention the end-of-life provision at all.

In his veto statement, President Bush focused on the fact that the earlier bill took "choices away from seniors to pay physicians."

The bill includes budget gimmicks that do not solve the payment problem for physicians, make the problem worse with an abrupt payment cut for physicians of roughly 20 percent in 2010, and add nearly $20 billion to the Medicare Improvement Fund, which would unnecessarily increase Medicare spending and contribute to the unsustainable growth in Medicare.

But the president was most concerned that the bill would undermine his drugs for seniors program. As far as I can tell, the end-of-life provisions didn't factor into his reasons for vetoing the bill as he never mentioned the provision at all in his veto statement.

This is not to say that Bush must have supported the end-of-life provision. That he didn't mention it at all means only that he had other, more important reasons to veto the bill. I'm not even sure if this little provision was even part of the public debate at the time. It was just one small provision slipped into the bill, one that few were even aware was in the thing.

Still, even if Hiller overstated her case a tad, she is 100% right that Kirsten Powers revealed herself to be a feckless analyst that was so centered on pushing the Obama Administration's BS that she was all too happy to be loose with the facts.


Update

SusanAnne Hiller has an update reporting that Powers finally admitted she was completely wrong. Go check out Hiller's post at BigJournalism.com.

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