Politics

Obama Sneaks in Dr. Don Berwick While Congress in Recess

| by FRC

Recess is usually a time for game-playing--and in Washington, it's no different. With Congress out of his hair for the week, President Obama couldn't resist hiring another radical socialist for one of the most important jobs in America. Knowing that many in his party wouldn't support him, the President used a recess appointment to force Dr. Don Berwick into the top spot at Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). By sidestepping the confirmation process, the White House also avoided a messy public debate over Berwick's fanatical support for "death panels" and rationing.

To justify the move, the President's communications director said Republicans were stalling the nomination--but, as everyone with any political sense knows, the GOP couldn't stall Berwick if they wanted to!

Under Senate rules, the majority controls the committees. So it's the Democrats--not Republicans--who decide when to hold hearings and schedule votes. They refused to do either, which should indicate just how offensive this nominee is. FRC has fought his appointment since the White House originally floated his name. As the head of CMS, Berwick will be in charge of almost a trillion dollars in benefits, not including the massive expansions of Medicaid under the new health care law. And just to give you an idea of how powerful his post will be, the Senate Republican Policy Committee explains that CMS is larger than all but 15 of the world's economies.

Obviously, the President's decision to seat Berwick without so much as a hearing is shocking for a job of this magnitude. "It's nearly unprecedented for an administration to recess appoint [someone] that has not even come up for a hearing. It's unfortunate that President Obama saw fit to take this extraordinary step," said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), "and appoint an individual charged with overseeing a benefits budget larger than the economies of Denmark, South Africa, and Israel combined without so much as a hearing to examine his views."

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So what are these "views" that the White House is so desperate to cover up? For one, Berwick is a socialist. He was caught on video suggesting that "any health care funding plan that is just... must redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer..." Secondly, he thinks it's cheaper to let sick patients die than provide care. "The decision is not whether or not we will ration care," he said last year, "the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open." He is, in his own words, "romantic" about nationalized health care, particularly Britain's system. He despises free market capitalism. And the list goes on and on.

Congress is right to be outraged. Senators like Tom Barrasso (R-Wy.) were stunned to learn that while they're on vacation, President Obama gave Berwick the keys to one of the biggest federal agencies in the country. "Because this post administers the Medicare program, it touches virtually every senior in America ..." he said. "This recess appointment proves [that Obama] did not have the support of a majority of Democrats and Republicans in the Senate... Once again, [the President] is going behind closed doors out of fear the American people will learn that Dr. Berwick plans to use rationing as a cost-cutting tool..."