Friday, July 16, 2010


(Hey folks.  Zandar here for the weekend again.  Assume the position.)

Silly me, and here I thought the kerfluffle over the recess appointment of Dr. Donald Berwick as head of Medicare/Medicaid was pretty much dead.  Apparently the folks over at WSJ spun the Wheel Of Obama Derangement for story ideas again and this Daniel Henninger column is the result.
There is no need to rehearse the analogies in literature and social thought that Dr. Berwick's ideas summon. That the Obama White House would try to push this past public scrutiny with a recess appointment says more about Barack Obama than it does Dr. Berwick. 

Vilifying Dr. Berwick alone for his views is in a way beside the point. Within Mr. Obama's circle they all think like this. Defeat Dr. Berwick, and they will send up 50 more who would pursue the same goals. 

If the American people want the world Dr. Berwick wishes to give them, that's their choice. But they must be given that choice with full, televised confirmation hearings. 

Barack Obama, Donald Berwick and the rest may fancy themselves philosopher kings who know what we need without the need to inform or persuade us first. That's not how it works here. That is Sen. Baucus's point. 

It should be clear why Berwick is bigger than Kagan. We need a large public debate over these views, over what Mr. Obama has said his health plan would and would not do. We need to find out if every Democrat in Congress and every Democrat writing newspaper columns and blogs agrees with Dr. Berwick about clinical and individual autonomy and about leaders with plans. 

Then we need to build an election around whether we want to go down the road Dr. Berwick has planned for us, or start dismantling the one that President Obama paved through Congress on a partisan vote. 
Because we didn't have any debate whatsoever over health care reform, and none of it was televised, and it all happened over one weekend at Jack Kevorkian's house where the entire health care reform bill was fashioned by Obama, Bill Ayers, and Nancy Pelosi playing Mad Libs while hopped up on Nyquil.

This is the best they've got?  A bunch of out-of-context quotes and some indignation?  Ezra Klein clears all this up:
Let's get the obvious out of the way: If not for health-care reform, Don Berwick's nomination to head the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services would not be so controversial. As Thomas Scully, who headed CMS under George W. Bush, says: "He's universally regarded and a thoughtful guy who is not partisan. I think it's more about ... the health-care bill. You could nominate Gandhi to be head of CMS and that would be controversial right now." 

But conservatives are making a serious mistake by forcing the administration to rely on a recess appointment for Berwick. Ultimately, what weakens Berwick weakens them, as Berwick, whether they know it or not, is one of the best friends they could have in the administration. That's because insofar as Berwick is a radical, he's a radical in favor of a patient-centered health-care system -- a position that has traditionally been associated with conservatives, not liberals.
Berwick is all about increasing quality of care, and strongly supports a "Patient's Bill of Rights" approach to health care.  Bringing that approach to Medicare and Medicaid seems like a good idea to me, especially given the increase in the numbers of people who will be on Medicare and Medicaid over the next twenty years.

Republicans meanwhile don't have any solutions to this crisis other than to yell and scream and to have Village Idiots like Henninger here call Berwick the greatest threat to American lives since Hitler's army of anthrax-spewing zombie cyborg velociraptors crossed the Rubicon, or whatever.  Repeal!  Repeal!

And then what, guys?  What then?

Well, the Republicans haven't quite gotten to that part yet, you know, working out the long, difficult solutions and making the tough choices involved in actual governance.  But you should vote for them anyway in November because they are really good at yelling and incompetence!

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