- The Washington Times - Monday, August 17, 2009

When our editorials make front-page news in an out-of-town newspaper, we know we are doing our job.

On Friday, the New York Times ran a front-page story about the origins of what they called the “stubborn yet false rumor that President Obama’s health care proposals would create government-sponsored ‘death panels’ to decide which patients were worthy of living.” The article listed The Washington Times editorial board as one of the sources of the “death panel” notion.

The New York Times noted two of our editorials. Neither of those articles used the expression “death panels.”

Our first editorial that was criticized appeared Nov. 23, which the New York paper wrote was “long before any legislation had been drafted,” implying that we were jumping the gun on the issue. But then-President-elect Obama had discussed health care extensively on the campaign trail, so it was fair game to anticipate how his team might seek to implement those proposals. We returned to the topic in February, but the New York Times failed to mention the context, which was a proposal in the stimulus bill then being rushed through Congress that would have established a national database recording every visit to a doctor’s office in the interests of promoting “efficiency.”

We were concerned that “efficiency” was being used as a code word for health care rationing, and wondered then why congressional Democrats were trying to sneak this major piece of health care legislation through in the stimulus bill if it was as harmless as they made it out to be. Both of our editorials argued that if the government assumed the right to decide who was entitled to what care in the pursuit of “efficiency,” the functional result would be to take life-or-death decisions away from families and doctors and place them in the hands of government bureaucrats. We have yet to hear a convincing argument to the contrary.

The New York Times described our paper as “an outlet decidedly opposed to Mr. Obama,” which at the very least is an insult to our news division, which examines the pretenses of politicians regardless of partisan affiliation. But it is also an error to describe our editorial position as dogmatically anti-Obama. The Washington Times editorial board stands for a set of principles that frequently differs with the president’s philosophies. Those disagreements are about issues, not individuals. When the administration merits praise, we are happy to acknowledge it. When it deserves criticism, we choose not to be silent.

During the past six months, our editorial team has written dozens of editorials covering all aspects of the health care debate. Our stance on the issue has been consistent, fact-based and principled. Perhaps that is why our editorials have struck a chord. We look forward to continuing to shape the debate on this issue and other critical matters of public policy. We owe nothing less to our loyal readers and to the American people, and we thank the New York Times for calling attention to our work.