WASHINGTON (CAP) - In a stunning reversal, the Obama administration today admitted that the so-called "death panel" against which Republican operatives have been railing for the past couple of weeks is still very much on the health care reform table. To underscore its commitment to the concept, a familiar face from the past has been elevated to the position of the nation's first Death Czar.
"Dr. Jack Kevorkian has been a compassionate advocate for end-of-life issues for going-on-decades now, and I will be pleased to welcome him into my cabinet as this nation's first Secretary of the Department of Conditional Aging (DCA)," President Obama announced at a short morning press conference.
While Kevorkian was not present at the conference, Obama hailed him as a man of "limitless integrity, technical proficiency, and just an American over-brimming with the right snuff [sic]."
Dr. Kevorkian is of course familiar to Americans as the suicide doctor who was convicted in 1999 of second-degree murder for his role in the assisted suicide deaths of at least 130 patients. As the nation's Death Czar, he will be tasked with the responsibility of trying to squeeze billions of dollars out of annual medical costs by helping seniors and others draining the system to "cross over" to their final rewards.
The CBO predicts that a rigorous euthanasia program could save the American taxpayers in excess of $56 billion over the course of 10 years.
Republican critics of everything Obama were quick to slam the death panel as another example of government expenses run amuck.
"If I understand this correctly, this Department of Conditional Aging would cost some $5 billion in just the first year to research death machines and the like," said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), ranking Republican member of the Senate Finance Committee. "While I know that pharmaceutical companies, electric utilities and rope manufacturers will be underwriting a lot of this research, this is still a huge pork project that we just can't afford at this time. No, nyet, nien, nuh-uh."
While President Obama acknowledges that he faces an uphill battle to confirm his pick to head the DCA, he pointed out that the idea has generated considerable support from a variety of groups, including the nation's largest advocate for seniors, the AARP.
"They've told me privately that, so long as they get their cut, they're cool with it," Obama confided to CAP News. "So, there you go."
- Rich Gray