The latest of the blame game is on in Washington. Without the GOP to blame for every ill hoisted upon the world, the Democrats have nothing but their own abysmal governance of the town. Now Team Obama is blaming the Republicans for the recess appointment of the new director of Medicare and Medicaid.
Did the White House forget that it is the Democratic party in charge of the process? Democrats have controlled Congress since 2007. Democrats schedule the hearings. Democrats call the votes. Democrats, simply put, have the power. This nomination was announced in April and no hearings have been scheduled. Why? Because the GOP has let it be known they are chomping at the bit for the committee hearings on this nominee. They want his record in full view of the American public. The last issue this administration wants to boil over again, as the mid-term elections approach, is the health care debate.
From The Washington Times: The top Republican on the Senate finance panel, Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, said he requested a hearing on Dr. Berwick two weeks ago.
"The American people have a right to know about Berwick's background, his past statements supporting rationing and government-run health care, and any potential conflicts of interest. All of that is hidden when the confirmation process is circumvented," Mr. Grassley said.
And from Byron York in the Washington Examiner: What has received less attention is that the House bypassed the Senate confirmation process after Sen. Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Finance Committee, asked Berwick for detailed information about the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, a nonprofit organization Berwick founded and for which he serves as chief executive officer.
The Institute describes its work as an effort “to accelerate improvement [in health care] by building the will for change, cultivating promising concepts for improving patient care, and helping health care systems put those ideas into action.” It has about 110 employees and net assets of $49.5 million, according to its 2008 filing with the IRS. (2008 is the most recent year for which such filings are publicly available.) A 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, the Institute reported receiving $12.2 million in contributions and grants in ‘08, as well as $27.4 million in revenue from its various programs.
As CEO, Berwick received $2.3 million in compensation in 2008. That was a substantial raise from 2007, when he received $637,006 in compensation, and from 2006, when he received $585,008 in compensation.
At the time the White House decided to bypass the Senate on Berwick’s nomination, Senate sources say, Berwick had already completed the questionnaire required by the Finance Committee, as well as provided his tax returns and other documents. He had answered one round of vetting questions from senators.
Then, on June 4, Grassley asked for information about the Institute. In particular, Grassley wanted to know the sources of the millions of dollars in grants and contributions to the nonprofit organization. Who has been giving? (Nonprofits like the Institute are not required to report that information to the IRS.) Given all the money that has been flying around in the health care debate, it was an entirely reasonable question.White
This is an acknowledgement by the Obama administration that the American public doesn't want the monstrosity known as Obamacare. Berwick not only supports Obamacare, he is infatuated with the British national health care system. He cannot wait for the rationing to begin at the federal level.
As we say in south Louisiana, laissez les bonne temps rouler! Let the good times roll!
For those with short memory spans, let us refresh our memory: It was the Democrats who held Congress in session full time rather than allow former President Bush any recess appointments. They put a token Senator out there for each break who would go into the Senate chamber and gavel in the body each morning. I expect Republicans to return this gesture when they take back Congress in November.
Press Secretary Gibbs throws this gasoline onto the fire, from the same article: "There are aspects of the health care law that have to be implemented on a timeline that I'm sure many who oppose Dr. Berwick for political reasons didn't want to see implemented," Mr. Gibbs told reporters. "We are not going to have the viewpoints of a few hold up the law of the land." Interesting. It was a minority of "viewpoints" who rammed through the wildly unpopular health care legislation to begin this charade. Perhaps the irony is lost on the smirking, arrogant Gibbs.
The Wall Street Journal weighs in: Even Max Baucus, the Senate Finance Chairman, issued a statement critical of this end-around. President Obama claimed Republicans were stalling the appointment "for political purposes," but Mr. Baucus hadn't scheduled hearings and the nomination paperwork wasn't even finished 11 weeks after he was named. Mr. Obama's real calculation was to dodge a debate in election season over Dr. Berwick's frequent praise for European health systems that ration care. The last thing most Democrats want now is to reprise the ObamaCare controversy.
The popularity of the health care reform bill rammed through by the Democrats is even less than it was as the sausage was made. The president can go on all the jaunts through swing states drumming up the issue and begging for support, but it's not happening. This recess appointment does nothing but fan the flames. He is certainly entitled to recess appointments, that is not the point. The point is that this was solely a cowardly, political gamble.
The up side? Recess appointments don't last long, by design. This is just another glaring example of the absence of 'change' from the man who promised it. Who knew that change meant ratcheting up the unseemly behavior?