Yesterday we wondered if the Democrats and the White House could get ahead of the "death panel" fears that Republicans are sure to begin to reignite now that Obama is instituting a rule allowing for Medicare to pay doctors to annually counsel their aging patients on end-of-life care. At that time, the Obama administration had just calmly pointed out that the provision was no different from the policy as it was under the Bush administration. And today, TPM unveils a process by which they could force the White House to really have to fight for it: By getting 30 Senate Republicans to sign on to a so-called "discharge petition," they can call a vote to repeal the rule — and they'll need only 51 votes to win. Of course, Obama would likely veto the move, because he believes in the counseling. But by that point Republicans would have been able to turn the issue into a public lightning rod once again, and Obama would have been called out into the open over it — something he and his allies have been trying to directly avoid. This is a strategy the GOP has already been openly discussing using in order to hamper other executive rulings. And hey, why not use it against the one with the most colorful name that you made up?
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