'Real Solution' to U.S. Debt Crisis Is 'Death Panels and Sales Taxes,' Liberal Economist Says

November 15, 2010 - 10:45 AM

(CNSNews.com) - A liberal economist who blasted Republican warnings about death panels as "smears" and "lies" is now using the term himself.

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, appearing as part of a roundtable discussion on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday, criticized President Obama's deficit commission for failing to address spiraling Medicare costs.

Krugman said the deficit commission isn't doing any good if it's "not telling people about the kinds of choices that need to be made."

In the years ahead, Krugman said, "we're going to get the real solution, which is going to be a combination of death panels and sales taxes. It's going to be that we're actually going to take Medicare under control, and we're going to have to get some additional revenue, probably from a VAT (value-added tax). But it's not going to happen now."

Last year, in an Aug. 13, 2009 column, Krugman blasted Sarah Palin for claiming that health care reform would create "death panels" that would "shuffle the elderly and others off to an early grave. It’s a complete fabrication, of course," Krugman wrote at the time.

A week later, Krugman accused Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) of feeding “the death panel smear,” by warning that health care reform would “pull the plug on grandma.”

And in yet another column on Aug. 30, 2009, Krugman again criticized Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa who "helped feed the 'death panel' lies."

Grassley later clarified that he never used the term “death panel.” But, he explained, “Putting end-of-life consultations alongside cost containment and government-run health care causes legitimate concern.”

Krugman has made it clear that he supports the idea of Medicare, a government-run program, trimming costs by refusing to pay for some treatments. Refusing to pay essentially is a life-or-death government decision, conservatives have warned.

But as Krugman said on Sunday, “Medicare is going to have to decide what it's going to pay for. And at least for starters, it's going to have to decide which medical procedures are not effective at all and should not be paid for at all.”