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Murkowski, Foe of Democratic Reform Plan, Raps Other Critics

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) this week accused some opponents of Democratic health care legislation of attempting to “gin up fear— among voters — even as her Conference’s campaign arm was attacking House Democratic leaders for complaining about the tone of health care protests.Murkowski, vice chairwoman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, told a gathering of Alaskans that while the health care system should be reformed, she believes the proposals in Congress are deeply flawed and that “there are things that are in this bill that are bad enough that we don’t need to be making things up,— the Anchorage Daily News reported Wednesday.Murkowski added that claims the legislation will include “death panels— and mandatory euthanasia of the elderly are false and are not helping the debate.“It does us no good to incite fear in people by saying that there’s these end-of-life provisions, these death panels … Quite honestly, I’m so offended at that terminology because it absolutely isn’t [in the bill]. There is no reason to gin up fear in the American public by saying things that are not included in the bill,— Murkowski said.Murkowski’s criticism is similar to complaints by Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), who has called the “death panel— claims “crazy.— Isakson has in the past been a sponsor of end-of-life legislation similar to the provisions in the bill that have been targeted by conservatives. That language would provide compensation for doctors who counsel elderly and dying patients on their options for end-of-life care, including living wills and hospice care.Murkowski’s comments appeared to be a not-so-veiled jab at Alaska’s former governor, Sarah Palin (R), who earlier this week made the widely debunked claim about the “death panels.—Palin and Murkowski’s relationship has been rocky over the last few years — Palin did not inform Murkowski of her decision to leave office before announcing it in early July, and Murkowski was initially critical of the move. Palin ousted Murkowski’s father, then-Gov. Frank Murkowski, in the 2006 GOP gubernatorial primary.Palin has also been mentioned as a possible primary challenger to Lisa Murkowski next year, although that appears to be unlikely.Meanwhile, the National Republican Senatorial Committee on Wednesday night sent an e-mail to its supporters excoriating Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).In the e-mail, NRSC Executive Director Rob Jesmer warns that “this week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer published a column in USA Today in which they called those who oppose the Democrats’ health care plan “un-American … We would like to know, what could be MORE American than citizens from across the country voicing concerns about controversial legislation to their elected officials?—The e-mail goes on to argue that the NRSC believes that “all Americans have a First Amendment right to challenge their elected officials— and asks recipients to sign an online petition to the Democratic leaders demanding that they “immediately retract this reprehensible statement, as it threatens to undermine the core democratic principles upon which our nation was founded.—Although it is not unusual for the campaign committees from either side of the Capitol to take aim at the leaders of the opposite party, attacks on the Members of the other chamber are generally rare.

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