Should Democrats have recess-appointed Donald Berwick?
Tevi Troy says that the problem with the administration's recess appointment for Don Berwick was not the appointment itself, or even the procedure used to enact it, but the timing of that procedure. In particular, it happened before Republicans had time to demonize and filibuster Berwick, rather than after. "If the Republicans had filibustered Dr. Berwick or held back the nomination after a hearing and after he had answered all of the Senate's written questions and President Obama had then recessed him," Troy says, "I know that I wouldn't have raised any objections."
I find myself a bit baffled by this argument. Republicans made quite clear that they were going to use Berwick as a way to attack the Affordable Care Act, taking a few quotations from his speech praising and critiquing the National Health Service and turning them into an argument that Berwick and Obama planned to bring British-style rationing to the United States. Mitch McConnell, previewing that strategy, had already called Berwick an "expert on rationing." The Republican Policy Committee pulled together an oppo memo, which said, in part, "The American people should have their eyes open to the ramifications of NICE-style rationing in the United States as part of Democrats’ brave new health care world."
In other words, it was pretty clear how this was going to go: Republicans were going to use Berwick and the NHS as a way to hammer Obama and the Affordable Care Act. Then, as has happened to so many bills and nominees, they were going to filibuster him. It is hard for me to even believe that anyone considers these predictions in doubt. As such, the choice for the administration was between recess-appointing Berwick now, before Republicans damaged and blocked him, or later. If they went with later, it's possible they'd have to find another nominee, as Berwick would've been damaged, and though Troy might not have criticized them for a recess appointment, others would have gone to town on them for appointing this rationing-friendly maniac who couldn't even survive a Senate hearing.
I don't like this state of affairs. As I keep saying, the procedural arms race set off by the endless filibuster is bad for both parties, and needs to be ended. But it does seem like the argument here is that Democrats should have acted in good faith even though Republicans seemed poised to act in bad faith, and even though there were real consequences both for Berwick and for the administration if Republicans crucified and then blocked him. And I'd just close this post by reminding people who we're talking about: As Thomas Scully, who ran CMS under George W. Bush, said, “[Berwick] is universally regarded and a thoughtful guy who is not partisan.”
Photo credit: Goodman Media.
July 12, 2010; 2:39 PM ET
Save & Share: Previous: Think tank: FinReg and regulators; Wyden-Gregg; and fiscal multipliers during a financial crisis
Next: Research desk responds: What could we swap a VAT or carbon tax with?
Posted by: srw3 | July 12, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: staticvars | July 12, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: MosBen | July 12, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: adagio847 | July 12, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: JackIL08 | July 12, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: thebobbob | July 12, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: FastEddieO007 | July 12, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Policywonk14 | July 12, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: TXAndy | July 12, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: rmgregory | July 12, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: jnc4p | July 12, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: jnc4p | July 12, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: FastEddieO007 | July 12, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: ciocia1 | July 12, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: ThomasEN | July 12, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: tsgoneo | July 13, 2010 1:41 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: MedicalMind | July 13, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: mjg0 | July 16, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: shredderofmass1 | July 17, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.