Is an up/down vote on ObamaCare "unfair?"....
Boehner is right. The vote will identify which Democrats are willing to change their minds about ObamaCare in light of the landslide 63-seat pick-up for the GOP last November, due in part to wide & deep voter anger at ObamaCare.
It is when proposals are made to replace ObamaCare with a new plan that hearings are appropriate, to vet ideas shoved aside by the Democratic majority in the 111th Congress.
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (WI) has obtained cost projections from the Congressional Budget Office that reveal how dishonest Democrats were--sorry, that is the only adjective for it--in getting their ObamaCare bill (formally: H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) projected cost below $1 trillion last year. Put simply, the version of the bill sent to CBO for "scoring" the budget impact (a) omitted $115B in implementation costs; (b) omitted $208B in "doc fix" insurance costs--part of ObamaCare but passed as a separate bill; (3) double-counted $521B in alleged offsets that are being spent elsewhere. Even allowing for $143B in claimed savings the financial finagling has a projected cost of $701B ignored in CBO's projections.
All this is not CBO's fault. CBO must accept the program assumptions given by Congress, no matter how unreal they made be--phantom cuts that will never be made, double-counted offsets, etc. As Rep. Michele Bachmann told NYC Democrat Anthony Weiner re this: "Garbage in, garbage out." As for the CBO finding that repeal of ObamaCare will cost $230B over a decade, even a prominent liberal columnist sees that such a projection is based upon dubious assumptions. The WSJ is more tart, detailing how risible the idea is that a new entitlement adding 32 million new beneficiaries to taxpayer subsidy rolls will save money and thus repeal would cost money. Health care maven Betsy McCaughey shows how running the CBO's numbers realistically yields contrary results to CBO's own calculations--CBO is prisoner of assumptions Congress dump supon it, as noted above.
Curbing abuse by Team Obama executive branch types is another priority. Two prime examples:
There was a good deal of shocked outrage last month when Dr. Donald Berwick, President Obama's Medicare czar, defied Congress by issuing a new regulation that would have provided financial rewards to physicians who pressure elderly patients into forgoing future medical care. A similar provision had, of course, been dropped from the original ObamaCare bill due to widespread public disapproval of government-sponsored end-of-life counseling. Berwick's brazen bureaucratic fiat has now been rescinded, but his conduct should not have been a surprise. Such edicts are perfectly consistent with the Obama administration's general approach to governance. The unfortunate reality is that the President and his minions at Health & Human Services (HHS) and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) have repeatedly demonstrated that they do not feel bound by the will of the voters as expressed by our elected representatives.
The advice and consent of the latter were, of course, flouted by the President when he installed Berwick at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) with a recess appointment last July. But Obama's apparatchiks were throwing their weight around well before anyone had ever heard of the good doctor. HHS Secretary Kathleen
Sebelius made her bones even before ObamaCare was signed into law. In September of 2009, the former Kansas governor issued a gag order to 189 private-sector corporations. Through CMS, which operates under the aegis of HHS, she directed all insurance carriers offering Medicare Advantage (MA) plans to stop communicating with their customers about the potential impact of "reform." Her pretext for this blatant violation of the First Amendment was a letter sent by an insurance company presciently warning its policy holders that ObamaCare might adversely affect their benefits.
Sebelius' conduct prompted an investigation by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which quietly released its findings last September. The GAO concluded that the CMS directive was, in the bland vernacular of the Washington bureaucrat, "unusual." The directive was, in fact, unprecedented. As the GAO pointed out, "Officials from the MA organizations and CMS regional offices that we interviewed told us they were unaware of CMS ever directing all MA organizations to immediately stop an activity before CMS had determined whether that activity violated federal laws, regulations, or MA program guidance." Sebelius offered several specious justifications for her behavior, including the following: "[W]e are concerned that federal funds not be used improperly …" This from a woman whose department used taxpayer funds to pay for Google ads redirecting searches on the word "ObamaCare."
Time for Congress to invite these two in for a chat.
Tony Blankley, Newt Gingrich's press secretary during the 1995 - 1996 budget battle with President Clinton, recounts what happened then and argues that the GOP has a stronger hand today, due to higher public concern about deficit spending and also to proliferation of alternative media outlets so that the GOP today can, unlike back then, get its message out to the public. For his part, Newt Gingrich offers 1,968 reasons for total repeal, that being the number of new grants of power in the 2,700 pages of ObamaCare. NG offers five examples plus a link to a mega-chart listing all 1,968 grants.
Bottom Line. An aggressive GOP drive to force serial repeal votes on ObamaCare is warranted. When replacement legislation is offered, the traditional hearing process and liberalized floor voting procedures are reasoanble for Democrats to expect. However, given the way Nancy Pelosi ran the House in the 11th Congress--hundreds of pages in "manager's amendments written shortly before final vote, no time to read thousand-page bills before a vote, and closed rule allowing little or no amendments on the floor--Democrats have no standing to be taken seriously if they complain about GOP repeal process.
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