Monday, July 19, 2010

Obama Dodges Congress And The People Again

Barack Obama has once again demonstrated his complete disdain for Congress, the Constitution and the American people with a recess appointment for which there can be no reasonable explanation. Recess appointments in the face of strong opposition from the minority party are not unusual nor are they unprecedented. In fact, the liberals are pointing to George Bush's recess appointment of John Bolton to the UN ambassadorship as an example. There is no comparison.

Presidents are known for making recess appointments when their chosen nominee has been vetted by the Senate and turned down or not confirmed by stalling tactics. And so it was with Bolton. Frustrated with the Senate's refusal to confirm Bolton without sound reasons, Bush made the recess appointment. Bolton wasn't pretty enough for the Democrats for starters. More importantly, he was highly critical of the UN's bad habit of wasting billions of dollars on failed projects and thieving officials. His outspoken criticism of the UN's open obeisance to dictatorships and human rights violators cost him support from the party of appeasement. Democrats love the UN because it works so hard to destroy American sovereignty.

In addition, though the United States spends ungodly amounts of money at the UN, the ambassadorship is really not much more than a pulpit for the ambassador to enunciate the policies of the President. Other than threatening to withhold funds, the American ambassador can't do much more damage individually than the ambassador from Zimbabwe or Burqina Fasso. But the UN ambassador doesn't set US policy, nor does he or she have vast power over major segments of the American economy.

Obama, on the other hand, made a recess appointment of leftist Donald Berwick as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ("CMS"). Unlike Bolton's case, Berwick has never been vetted, nor have there been any hearings on his qualifications since the President announced Berwick's nomination. Unlike Bolton's UN, CMS has immense power over a segment of government which affects every single American and has a budget considerably larger than that of the Defense Department. And unlike Bolton's outspoken and public persona, practically nobody outside the confines of the halls of the left had ever heard of Donald Berwick.

Obama wasn't reacting to huge political criticisms of Berwick coming from the opposition party, nor was he trumping a recalcitrant Senate Committee that wouldn't give Berwick a fair hearing. The best that can be said for this recess appointment is that Obama didn't want the public to know the kind of person he would nominate to control much of the health care system. In addition, since there was little public knowledge of the nominee, it is rather apparent that Obama didn't want to embarrass his nominee by having him appear in front of a Senate Committee to answer hard questions about his utilitarian socialist agenda.

Rather than bravely stand up to a Senate which might oppose his nominee, the sneaky and dishonest President simply ignored the process entirely, and installed his boy without any Constitutional provision to back him or thwart him. Two of Berwick's stands on medical care are real beauties, and Obama couldn't risk that getting out before Berwick already held the position of administrator. The first is Berwick's sick and fawning admiration for the miserable failure that is the British National Health Service. The other is his bold advocacy of statistical and fiscal analyses of how much health care any American is entitled to ("rationing health care").

Berwick's admiration for the British NHS sounds more like a schoolgirl crush on the captain of the football team than the reasoned conclusions of a high-level government official. Says Berwick about the NHS: "I am romantic about the National Health Service; I love it. All I need to rediscover the romance is to look at health care in my own country." And if that doesn't turn your stomach sufficiently, consider his view on the British National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, which makes life and death decisions about NHS patients. He enthusiastically applauds the British concept that "the decision is not whether or not we will ration care; the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open."

What you mean "we," paleface? That "we" includes the vast majority of Americans, but not the elites such as Congress and, oh, the former CEO of the Institute for Health Care Improvement, one Donald Berwick. Although the IHI is ostensibly a not-for-profit organization, it was able to take in enough cash to pay Berwick $2.3 million dollars in his final full year as CEO, and at the same time write him a lifetime health care plan that even Bill Gates couldn't afford. It's rationing for us, and spare-no-expense for Berwick. "We're all going to suffer through this together, aren't you?" is Berwick's position.

In June of last year, Berwick was interviewed by a specialty magazine called Biotechnology Healthcare. His major thesis for the magazine was "Well, at this point, to have access to a particular additional benefit such as a new drug or medical intervention is so expensive that our taxpayers have better use for those funds. We make those decisions all the time." That was the lead up to his comment about rationing "with our eyes open."

While the mere peasants are treated to the vicissitudes of the miserable Medicare program that has recently gotten even worse after major funding cuts, Berwick and his family won't have to give it a moment's thought. They're covered for everything, literally, and then some. Yet Obama thought that a man so divorced from the daily lives of normal Americans was such an important nominee that he wouldn't even subject him to minimal investigation or Senate hearings.

In fact, it wasn't just those pesky fascist Republicans that Obama was worried about. His socialist agenda and lack of concern for the lives of average Americans has shaken even some of his former Democratic hangers-on. Sen Max Baucus (D-Montana) said "I'm troubled that, rather than going through the standard nomination process, Dr. Berwick was recess-appointed. Senate confirmation of presidential appointees is an essential process prescribed by the Constitution that serves as a check on executive power and protects Montanans and all Americansby ensuring that crucial questions are asked of the nominee--and answered." Even Baucus, who stumped for Obamacare in his home state, can see that his President is dodging the normal process for nefarious reasons.

Obama's genius press secretary danced all around the issue, neither explaining the reasons for the failure to hold hearings nor giving any indication that he saw any reason for holding hearings at all. After all, the President wanted Berwick for the job--isn't that good enough? Asked by CNS News "did the President ever ask chairman Baucus for a hearing?" Gibbs answered, "Not that I'm aware." Gibbs then babbled on about the importance of moving forward quickly on all health care fronts (before the people get any more pissed off?). Those contentious Senate hearings would have slowed the process down, and we can't have that.

Senator John Barasso (R-Wyoming) is one of two doctors serving in the United States Senate. He looked at the rationing argument and the immense power, prestige and wealth of the CMS, and concluded: "Medicare and Medicaid are going to disburse over $800 billion in benefits this year. It is larger than the economies of many nations. This is a position that deserved a hearing. This is a position that deserved a vote."

22 comments:

Tennessee Jed said...

Hawk - thanks for a great post. I know it is frustrating for parties since in today's world it takes a super majority to get anything done. You, however, point pout the very real difference between what this president has done relative to predecessors.

AndrewPrice said...

When I heard that they hadn't even had hearings on this, it was pretty shocking -- I've never heard of that before in a recess appointment.

What's even more interesting, there are 188 Obama appointments that the DEMOCRATIC SENATE haven't even held hearings on yet.

In all fairness, I have to say that the system is broken if that many people remain outstanding two years into a President's administration.

Joel Farnham said...

LawHawk,

I guess Obama wanted to get started on those nonexistent death panels early. Who better than one who worships Great Britain's NICE?

This is disgusting and disheartening, but unexpected? No.

LL said...

Reforming healthcare reform needs to be one of the first things on the next administration's agenda.

barack hussein obama and his regime only made a problematic issue worse.

Patti said...

every day finds me in prayer that barrycare gets repealed, but on the chance that it doesn't i had TWO surgical procedures (that i knew i would absolutely need in the future) and am considering TWO more in the coming months. do i like rushing medical issues? hell no. but i am approaching an age where it will be rationed AND i won't get to pick my docs or surgical centers if i wait for the gov'ment rotting cheese. it's my skewed way of giving the libbies the finger. it pisses me off immensely that i (and countless americans)have been put in this position, but i need to be in tip-top shape for the fight ahead.

StanH said...

Dr. Berwick is much too valuable to the Marxist utopia to be questioned by mere Senators. The lack of curiosity, and accompanied outrage of the press is criminal. Please excuse the hyperbole, but we are indeed in a very dark time for our country.

Have you seen the administration is going to admit Barrycare will be a massive tax increase from the NYT:
“Democrats denied that they were creating a new tax. But in court, the Obama administration and its allies now defend the requirement as an exercise of the government’s “power to lay and collect taxes.”
And that power, they say, is even more sweeping than the federal power to regulate interstate commerce.
Administration officials say the tax argument is a linchpin of their legal case in defense of the health care overhaul and its individual mandate, now being challenged in court by more than 20 states and several private organizations.”

Wow!

LawHawkRFD said...

Tennessee: This President makes Richard Nixon look like the picture of open governance. His Supreme Court nominees have made it clear that they agree with him that the Constitution is just too restrictive to allow for "efficient" modern government. But at least he hasn't tried to sneak a recess appointment to the court past Congress and the American people. This administrative appointment seems to mean that pretty much everything else is fair game for bypassing the Constitution.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: One of Obama's favorite words (misused, most of the time) is "unprecedented." This appointment fits that word very nicely. This position isn't exactly comparable to National Dog Catcher. An appointment this significant and this potentially dangerous needed nothing less than full vetting and full hearings. Obama knew that, and he chose the back door.

LawHawkRFD said...

Joel: The only reason I didn't mention the death panels specifically is that it's a given that with rationing come death panels. The "statistical and fiscal" determination of who gets what health care, and how much of it, automatically implies death panels. And that's particularly true of an administration that believes matters of life and death should be decided by mindless, faceless bureaucrats.

LawHawkRFD said...

LL: If we can get this story out to the American people in sufficient strength and sufficient clarity, the stage will be set for reversing most of Obamacare. But even if we do that, I don't care to think about how much damage can be done between now and then. These aren't just abstract numbers and policies we're dealing with. It's a matter of human lives. The horror stories of avoidable deaths at the British National Health Service are voluminous and tragic, and Berwick gleefully advocates repeating them here in the United States.

LawHawkRFD said...

Patti: I can both sympathize with and understand your quandary. The experience I just went through with cancer would have been far more terrifying if Berwick and bureaucratic determinations had been in place. I was hit with one of the forms of cancer that is successfully but very expensively curable. Given my age, the variety of cancer I had, and the statistics at the British National Health Service that Berwick so admires, I would probably not be around to have written this article.

LawHawkRFD said...

Stan: You nailed it. Obama thinks he is smarter and more important than any senator or constitutional restraint. He is also incapable of understanding that just because it's possible to do something that doesn't mean you should do it. Congress has the power to impose the taxes for health care that he is asking for, but they shouldn't. He lied and they lied about the costs of Obamacare, and now they expect the taxpayers to fund it with taxes he promised would not be raised by a single dime.

StanH said...

The hypocrisy of this administration is breathtaking. As a layman, it would seem that a judge, or judges listening arguments pro and con on Barrycare, would not allow the administration to shift their argument now pushing the 16th Amendment, and the right of the federal government to tax…obscene. This is absolutely diametrically opposed to every public statement of this administration prior to the passing of this monstrosity, does it matter with the courts. Your thoughts?

LawHawkRFD said...

Stan: My guts tell me that the Supreme Court might rule against the usage of the tax money. But I have to be perfectly clear on this. The fact that Obama outright lied and knew he was lying from the get-go will not enter into the decision. That's a political issue that the court cannot concern itself with (if it's doing its job right).

The court, on the other hand, has ruled many times that a perfectly constitutional act must not be implemented in an unconstitutional manner. Furthermore, it can look into the law upon which the tax is based, and if the otherwise constitutional tax offends another seemingly-unrelated right, the tax can be nullified. Obama and his gang of socialists may try to deflect the court with its "power to tax" argument, but it's a red herring.

The true issue still remains "can the federal government order an individual citizen to purchase health insurance (or anything else, for that matter)?" How you fund it (taxes, for instance) is an entirely separate mattter.

HamiltonsGhost said...

Lawhawk--More than anything, I am constantly amazed by Obama's open and enthusiastic contempt for the Constitution and two centuries of democratic process. The "party of the people" has nothing but disdain for those very people, and this arrogant s.o.b. in the White House doesn't even try to hide it. When he says "the people," he means "our people."

LawHawkRFD said...

HamiltonsGhost: And when he says "our people," he means "our far left friends in the Democratic Party, the SEIU, the South Side Chicago thugs, and the Socialist Party of America."

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, This may have been unprecedented (I don't doubt that), but it won't be anymore. I expect that future Presidents will start doing this regularly. I know I would. In fact, I'd appoint all 188 of them and say, "if you don't like them, then un-appoint them."

What makes this all the stranger though is that they are the same party. Why the foot dragging?

StanH said...

I thought there is the “implied nature” of a contract, and Barrycare is a contract with the public, and was sold on a false premise. Kind of like a lemon law? I know judicial is one of the three branches of government, and the courts hesitate messing with politics, but this was fraud.

LawHawkRFD said...

Stan: I know you're a fan of the Constitution, so just quickly, contract law and even criminal law do not apply to a sitting President. Before he can be sued civilly or prosecuted criminally he must first be impeached by the House, convicted by the Senate and removed from office, lose re-election, or complete his second term.

Realistically, if every politician who ever lied to the public were removed from office, we would have very few elected officials. I'm not sure that would be a bad thing, but it is a fact.

As a legal/Constitutional matter, the House may impeach for high crimes and misdemeanors, but the House has nearly plenary power to determine what that means. With a relatively minor majority in Congress, and a clear case of a felony (perjury), the Senate couldn't get rid of Clinton. I don't think we're going to get rid of Obama until Congress changes hands and Obama is defeated at the polls.

And finally, as a practical matter, we are not a banana Republic that goes after the other party's people when we win elections. Obama's people have tried to do that with the CIA interrogation matters, but it probably won't really go anywhere. The remedy for lying politicians is to throw them out of office at the next election.

I want Obama gone as much as anybody, but I don't want to twist the Constitution to obtain that result. Democrats wouldn't hesitate to do so if they thought they could get away with it, but I think we're better than that.

LawHawkRFD said...

Damn. I forgot my other favorite Berwick quote: "Health care reform is by definition redistribution of income."

StanH said...

Lawhawk, I’m not talking about impeachment, but the courts dismantling Barrycare, by using bait-n-switch too sell it to the public, even though it didn’t work.

LawHawkRFD said...

Stan: I couldn't be more sympathetic with your point of view, but there's no way I can make it fit into any Constitutional plan whereby the Supreme Court undoes Obamacare (and his other socialist programs) because he lied, distorted or misstated the facts. It just doesn't work that way--and shouldn't. There are plenty of things in Obamacare that I believe may be found unconstitutional, but those issues will stand on their own fours without any argument about whether the President or Congressional Democrats lied about the plan.

Another name for "bait and switch" is "political campaign rhetoric." And as for the "contract" angle, I'm a lifelong fan of caveat emptor--let the buyer beware. A people gets the form of government it deserves, and by voting for the obvious baloney that Obama was peddling, they got the current mess. Now they have buyer's remorse, but they acted in haste and now must repent at leisure. The upside of the analogy is that this "contract" has an expiration date, and the people have the opportunity to correct their own foolishness in electing this socialist Congress and demagogic President.

Burn me once--shame on you. Burn me twice--shame on me. If the snake oil turns out to be useless, dump it and get to a real doctor.

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