So 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,tweetedFriday: "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,tweetedSunday, "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?