Patterico's Pontifications


Obama’s Recess Appointment (Updated)

Filed under: Health Care,Obama — DRJ @ 12:23 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

President Obama used a recess appointment to install Dr. Donald Berwick as the head of the agency running Medicare. However, President Obama circumvented the normal advise-and-consent process — Berwick’s nomination was never set for a hearing and thus was not considered by the Senate subcommittee charged with vetting his qualifications — even though the President’s political party is in charge of the vetting.

A memo from GOP Senator Chuck Grassley’s office suggests why Berwick’s nomination is a Democratic hot potato:

“The memo from a staffer for Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) suggests that by using a recess appointment to place Donald Berwick at the head of the agency running Medicare, the administration may be avoiding questions about whether Berwick’s healthcare institute received undisclosed funding from industry groups. The memo also raises questions with Berwick’s stance on euthanasia.
“I want to make sure it is absolutely clear up front that we were prepared for a nomination hearing to occur,” the staffer writes in the memo. “Furthermore, Senator Grassley had in fact requested that the hearing take place the week of June 21 (before the hearing on the Kagan nomination in Judiciary). So these items were not a precondition for holding the nomination hearing. Republicans were in no way holding up this process. We wanted the hearing.”

I think it’s pretty clear the Obama Administration didn’t want the hearing.


UPDATE 7/10/2010
— Republican Senator claims the Obama Administration planned this from the beginning:

“Senator John Barrasso, a leading spokesman for congressional Republicans on health care issues, today accused President Barack Obama of “intentionally misleading” the country and Congress by appointing Donald Berwick to run the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services. The White House yesterday announced that Berwick would receive a “recess appointment,” which allows the president to put a nominee in place without Senate confirmation.

“This appointment shows incredible arrogance on the part of the president and it makes a mockery of his promise to run a transparent administration,” said Barrasso, an orthopedic surgeon from Casper, Wyoming.

Barrasso repeatedly urged Obama to appoint someone to head CMS during the year-long health care debate that ended this past spring. In an interview this afternoon, Barrasso said that Congress did not yet even have all of the paperwork to conduct a hearing on the nomination. The Obama administration, he argues, planned to recess-appoint Berwick from the beginning in order to avoid a public debate over Berwick’s radical views. Barrasso says of Obama: “I think this was his intention all along.”

Barrasso and other Republicans have criticized Berwick since he was first mentioned for the CMS job. They point to his writings in favor of health care rationing and in praise of Britain’s state-run National Health Service (NHS). “I think the NHS is one of the great human health care endeavors on earth,” he said in a 2005 speech. “It can be an example for the whole world — an example, I must say — that the United States needs now more than most other countries do.”

Over the course of the health care debate, Democrats dismissed and even mocked those who described White House proposals as socialized medicine or a step toward a single-payer system.”

25 Responses to “Obama’s Recess Appointment (Updated)”

  1. Can’t wait for our long national nightmare to end.

    wright (8a7bfe)

  2. obama promised transparency, anyone can see his agenda though only a minority like it.Dictator behavior not leadership.

    dunce (3ef93a)

  3. But, but . . . this IS transparency!

    You can see right through his thin skin.

    Icy Texan (388cfa)

  4. When did Reid stop keeping the Senate in session because he believed Presidential recess appointments were an abuse?

    jim2 (a9ab88)

  5. Recess appointments are, of course, not an abuse. They are provided for in the Constitution.

    However, when you ride in on the “we’re gonna do things differently; transparency, transparency!” boat, you had better put up or shut up.

    In this case, preferably shut up.

    Icy Texan (388cfa)

  6. Obama actually blamed the recess appointment on GOP obstruction … obstruction that was not happening and could not happen as Berwick had not even completed the disclosures necessary.

    That’s the kind of dishonesty we’ve come to expect from Obama and his “Post Partisan” politics.

    “Change” – change to a more dishonest, less transparent, more corrupt administration.

    SPQR (a46c08)

  7. Sort of unrelated, I came across a great phrase from Thomas Sowell: “President Obama’s many prissy little sermonettes”.

    I love it. I’m going to steal it and use it as much as possible. We need to make that phrase viral.

    SPQR (a46c08)

  8. When you know the votes are in committee and in the Senate to approve the nomination, but you use a recess appointment instead, it seems what is wanted is a “stealth” appointment. Earlier today I hear a clip of this fellow talking (not sure where) and he said something like, “Any moral healthcare sytem must, must, redistribute income”. I guess Obama wanted to appoint a “czar” and found a way to do it.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  9. They should just have a hearing on why this man didn’t follow the normal process, and ask him all the same questions he would have been asked for posterity’s sake.

    Obama sure knows how to pick ’em.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  10. Dustin- That’s a thought.

    It would be interesting to know how many times this has happened before, if ever, and if so, what were the circumstances.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  11. Well this sort of takes the torch to about 80% of Obowma’s health care speeches. Eugenics, whole lives, NAZI health care. No difference.

    bill-tb (541ea9)

  12. From C-Span during the Clinton Years

    “President Clinton has now made 56 recess appointments in his 6 ½ years, the last being James Hormel as Ambassador to Luxembourg on June 4, 1999. President Bush made 77 recess appointments during his 4 year tenure, and in 8 years as President, Ronald Reagan made 243 such appointments. President Carter made 68 recess appointments over 4 years in office.”

    Recess appointments aren’t rare, but depending on the import of the office definitely run against the “tone” that Obama claimed he would set.

    Christian (3290f5)

  13. Recess appointments aren’t rare

    Recess appointments for people who are not being filibustered or otherwise blocked are extremely rare.

    Subotai (96a44a)

  14. I think we’re gonna be hearing about death panels again soon.

    daleyrocks (1d0d98)

  15. “Any healthcare funding plan that is just, equitable, civilized, and humane must… must redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer and the less fortunate. Excellent healthcare is by definition redistributional.”

    – Dr. Donald Berwick

    GeneralMalaise (9cf017)

  16. This appointment is curious given that it is good for only about 7 months. A recess appointment lapses when Congress reconvenes in January.

    So, what can this guy possibly contribute in only 7 months, especially when the Healthcare bill doesn’t really go into effect for several years?

    I’m guessing that he and a handpicked staff are already prepared with comprehensive new Medicare policies that he’s going to begin implementing immediately. That will get the ball rolling in the direction that Obama wants to go, hoping to gain momentum before the GOP takes over the Congress. Otherwise, there seems no real reason to put this into a job he can keep for only a few months.

    shipwreckedcrew (fe3b5b)

  17. I wonder if the redistribution of wealth includes him. If he was making over $2M a year, he certainly need to share. By Obama’s reckoning anyway.

    PatAZ (9d1bb3)

  18. shipwreckedcrew–

    It lasts until the end of the next Session, not the end of a Congress. Any recess appointment made from now until the 1st Session of the 112th Congress starts (Jan 2011) will last until the sine die adjournment of that 1st Session (likely December 2011). A recess appointment can last at most 2 years, if made right after a new Session opens. There’s a FAQ from the Congressional Research Service that explains this.

    Kevin Murphy (5ae73e)

  19. Which means that if the Senate changes hands, it should be sure never to adjourn, holding token sessions during recesses in the same crappy way the Dems did to Bush. Of course, Bush never tried to fight it…. he might have won on the basis of no quorum.

    Kevin Murphy (5ae73e)

  20. If the GOP wasn’t the “Stupid Party” they would be dragging out every utterance that was made re recess appointments by Sen. Obama,
    and hang him with his own words…as if the media would notice.

    Have the major MSM players said anything yet about the NBPP scandel?
    Yeah, I thought not.
    The same practice will control on Barack Obama’s “thoughts” on recess appointments made by GWB.

    AD - RtR/OS! (2307ff)

  21. The fall campaign traditionally starts with Labor Day. The RNC doesn’t have the money to campaign hard all summer and it would probably be a waste of money.

    Berwick is well known in health policy circles and has been for years. LIke most academics, he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. These people cannot imagine what a free market health plan looks like.

    Mike K (82f374)

  22. The right-of-center blogosphere, talk radio and FNC do a great job of getting these stories out there. The Lamestream media does its best to ensure that these stories never see the light of day. They believe they need to act as a truth (as they see it) squad which – with some measure of success – counters the truth. In their world, these incidents, i.e., FACTS never happened.

    In reality, they are a fifth column.

    GeneralMalaise (9cf017)

  23. With these guys in charge of our health care, and soon-to-be-announced death panels, the only thing we can do is send Obama a conservative Congress, and refuse to fund his “healthcare” plan. November can’t come soon enough.

    rochf (ae9c58)

  24. “recess appointment”?

    I say we make Rahm’s nutsack the tether ball, Axelrod’s head the kick ball, have Biden negotiate with the sixth-graders over use of the basketball court, and let the constitutional law professor stay in the teachers lounge — smoking.

    Icy Texan (7ea4cc)

  25. IT – The kids are in charge.

    daleyrocks (1d0d98)

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