Donald Berwick Won’t Answer Questions From Senate on Health Care, Rationing

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 27, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Donald Berwick Won’t Answer Questions From Senate on Health Care, Rationing

by Wesley J. Smith
September 27, 2010 Note: Wesley J. Smith, J.D., is a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture. Excerpted from his A Rat Is a Pig Is a Dog Is a Boy: The Human Cost of the Animal Rights Movement (Encounter, 2010).

President Obama promised transparency and improved democratic responsiveness, but has delivered nothing but obfuscation and prevarication in governance, at least when it comes to Obamacare. Few examples more vividly illustrate this anti accountability approach than the sorry history of Donald–it’s going to be a short gig–Berwick as head of Medicare/Medicaid.

First, he was nominated, but the Democrats wouldn’t hold hearings, probably afraid that Berwick would be confronted with his pro rationing views.

So, Obama used a recess appointment to get him in the job, thereby subverting the democratic process. True, other president’s have used the RA to get people into office who were being held up in the Senate without an up or down vote.

But, I don’t know of any case in which a high profile RA was made for a nominee who hadn’t even testified because the president and his party were afraid of the political consequences. Oh well, the recess appointment will expire at the end of next year, and Berwick’s tenure will too because I doubt he can ever be confirmed after this end run around normal senatorial procedure.

Be that as it may, after going around democracy, Obama arrogantly nominated Berwick again–meaning he should be questioned. But once again, the Rhode Island red Democrats won’t hold a confirmation hearing and Berwick disrespectfully refuses to answer written questions from Republican senators.

From the story:

Donald Berwick, an advocate of health care rationing and redistributing wealth through the health-care system, who President Barack Obama appointed administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) without a Senate confirmation hearing or vote, will not answer questions from the U.S. Senate, according to members of the committee that has oversight over his nomination.

“We’ve been trying to get him to answer questions in writing. He won’t do that,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, told Thursday. “We’ve been trying to get him up for a hearing. He won’t do that. He has indicated he might come to a hearing. So far, it’s been unsuccessful, no matter how important these matters are.”

Rarely have we witnessed such an autocratic executive branch. There’s a reason: They know their health care prescription is causing terrible side effects–pronounced political unpopularity.

But such refusal to engage hurts the country because it cheats the American people out of a very important policy debate. If we do turn down Rationing Road, it won’t work if it is imposed from above. That’s not the nature of the American people. The only way rationing will be popularly accepted is if the majority becomes persuaded that there is no other way.

Running from such a difficult political discussion won’t work in the long run. Berwick can’t hide forever. At some point, he will have to account for his views. I, for one, can hardly wait.


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