Time magazine's Mark Halperin doesn't want to use the term "death panels," but he's confident that President Obama will reap the whirlwind when people realize that Obamacare "has the government play a role in deciding how much care people can have at the end of life."

Halperin walked back his affirmation of the idea that death panels exist. "I don't think there are death panels in the Affordable Care Act, but ... what there is in the law is something which is intended to lower health care costs which will produce rationing," he said Wednesday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

MSNBC touts that segment as Halperin saying there are "no 'death panels' in the Affordable Care Act," but it's a distinction without a difference. When people protest death panels, they reject the idea of the government deciding who should receive medical care — which Obamacare, in its own way, does, according to Halperin.

"If you start to really restrict payments to providers, it's going to have an impact on patients," Halperin said. "Whether we should have a system that has the government play a role in deciding how much care people can have at the end of life, my point is, Obamacare does that."

Or, as Halperin put it on Newsmax TV, when he agreed that Obamacare has death panels: "The law is the law and we're going to have to have a discussion as a country about what kind of health care we can afford, particularly at the end of life when a lot of expensive medicine is often done that, as a society, we're going to have to decide: Do we really want to spend that money?"

Halperin noted in both interviews that Obama did not talk much about this issue during the original Obamacare debate.

"Part of the political challenge for the president now is that every one of these big things that wasn't discussed on passage, wasn't discussed in the context of the presidential campaign, is going to be controversial, and the president is going to have to defend it," he said.