Appearing on MSNBC's Morning Joe today, Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.) refused to distance himself from the claim that healthcare reform would lead to "death panels."

Pressed repeatedly by host Joe Scarborough, Pawlenty, a possible 2012 presidential candidate, called death panel concerns "legitimate" and suggested the high cost of care would lead bureaucrats to start deciding who lives and dies.

Here's the exchange. The empasis is mine. (Video of the exchange is below):


SCARBOROUGH: There's nothing in any of these bills that would "pull the plug on granny," is there?

PAWLENTY: ...Here are the facts. You did have in an earlier version of the bill a provision that said the federal government would encourage and incentivize end of life counseling. That concerned people, to have the federal government involved in that. So it's a legitimate question. Even if that is removed, there's concerns that this thing is going to be so expensive they're not going to be able to afford all that's promise, and somebody's going to have to make a decision to cut back, and peple are concerned that if the federal government does that--have them rationing care, that's a real problem. And so those are not irrational concerns based on those facts....

SCARBOROUGH: But but, there are no death panels here, though. Counseling is one thing. Having three people lining up and saying 'granny dies, grandpa lives,' that's quite another. You can't get there from here.

PAWLENTY: Well what happens--Joe, what you call it or label it, but I think the facts are these: if you have a system like the United Kingdom where---

SCARBOROUGH: But we don't. We don't governor. With all due respect, this does not give us a system like the United Kingdom. I'm talking specifically about this bill. How does this bill get us to "death panels?" You don't believe it does, do you?

PAWLENTY: Joe what if it becomes so expensive, and the trajectory of it is even close to what's being predicted 10 years out that they can no longer afford what they promised, and somebody has to scale back care, and the government is now empowered to do that.

And if you look at examples around the world where that takes place, there are concerns about care being cut back by a federal government instituation, and we can have a legitimate discussion about whether that's good or not. I don't think it is.

SCARBOROUGH: Governor, what in this bill, though, let's be specific, what in this bill leads us to that position, gives a bureacrat that power 10 years from now....what in this bill could lead someone to rationally believe that a death panel might emerge in a decade. Based on this legislation.

PAWLENTY: Joe there is nothing in the legislation directly that says that. It's the indirect concerns that i'm trying to articulate that I think are at least worth raising.