Gotta hand it to Lisa Murkowski, the Republican U.S. Senator from Alaska. It takes a boatload of political courage to call attention to the dirt that prominent members of your own party are dishing out. As reported by the Anchorage Daily News, Murkowski scolded critics of health care reform for inflaming the debate with lies.
"It does us no good to incite fear in people by saying there's these end-of-life provisions, these death panels," Murkowski told a non-partisan health care forum in Anchorage, Tuesday (August 11). "Quite honestly, I'm so offended at that terminology, because it absolutely isn't in the bill."
Murkowski aimed her criticism clearly at ex-Governor Sarah Palin, while couching it in broad enough terms to address a general paranoia concerning the health care plans Congress will consider after the summer break.
Palin stirred up the mobs recently with a Facebook screed suggesting that under Democratic health reform schemes, her parents and her Down syndrome son would have to appear before "Obama's death panel" so that bureaucrats could decide whether they lived or died, depending on the "level of productive in society."
Murkowski says there's enough wrong with the various bills being considered that "we don't need to be making things up." The GOP Senator says the health care system has to be reformed to improve access to care, boost programs such as veterans' health care, and control spiraling costs. Congress should not be rushed into approving bad legislation, she said, but "There's no reason to gin up fear in the American public by saying things that are not included in the bill."
As a product of Alaska's often storm-ridden political structure, Murkowski has weathered plenty of turbulence in her own career. Her father, Frank Murkowski, retired from the Senate to become Governor and promptly appointed his daughter to his own unexpired Senate seat. The resulting political uproar produced a referendum that stripped the governorship of the power to appoint senators to vacant seats. But she won a full six-year term against former Governor Tony Knowles in 2004.
Murkowski has taken positions diametrically opposite the GOP's public profile, on issues such as abortion and stem cell research. Now she appears to be the first Republican U.S. Senator to speak out against wildly inflammatory accusations by the opponents of health care reform.