I’ve heard from many in the medical field who talk about the gifts of Dr. Donald Berwick when it comes to improving patient care while reducing costs. Despite his affection for the British NHS and too-frank-for-politics discussions of the need for rationing care, they say he is a visionary who will help make America’s health-care system more humane and more rational at the same time.
They may be right, but the American people are never going to get to hear about it because of President Obama’s decision to put through his appointment without even scheduling a Senate hearing. Obama didn’t try to win approval and fail, he foresaw trouble and went for a first strike – Democratic committee chairman Max Baucus was even taken aback.
It suggests the president intended from the start to jam through Berwick’s appointment as Medicare chief and the engineer for erecting the superstructure of Obamacare. As Examiner colleague Julie Mason points out, all presidents make recess appointments, but usually after trying to win confirmation and for less consequential posts. Berwick is the first Medicare boss to operate under the vast new powers afforded by Obamacare, and there was not even a chance to get to know the man except for through his previous comments, which don’t cast much glory on him.
The Journal editorial page talks about how Berwick’s ideas will meet the reality of the need for huge cuts to existing programs.
“Anyone else the Obama Administration installed would also do the same, given that the government won't be able to afford such new or even old treatments while it also subsidizes health care for everyone. The important decisions will be run through the White House in any case. The scuttlebutt on Capitol Hill is that the Administration has denied Dr. Berwick the choice of his own CMS team and assigned him senior staff.
So no wonder the White House wanted to dodge a public debate and Senate vote on Dr. Berwick. He's a too obvious reminder of the price controls and care restrictions that are inevitable with ObamaCare.”
With David Cameron due at the White House in less than two weeks and competitors hungrily eyeing its best untapped fields, BP is trying to create a little optimism that its oil spill will be stopped soon.
The first of the relief wells -- the only hopes for finally stopping the flow of oil into the Gulf -- could now be finished as soon as July 20.
The Obama administration surely hopes they succeed.
Justice Department lawyers will be in court today arguing against Gulf Coast lawyers for an economically damaging deepwater drilling ban, and the administration finds it self being second guessed at every turn for its cleanup and relief effort.
Being able to announce good news on the disaster at last would be a huge relief.
But hitting an eight-inch pipe with a drill bit under a mile of water and another mile of earth is no sure thing.
Writer Monica Langley explains the stakes.
“When they announce earnings July 27, BP officials hope to provide investors with more information on the estimated liabilities from the Gulf spill.
One official said the company wants to be able to describe the oil spill as finite, not infinite, a moment that would allow it to start calculating the total potential liabilities under U.S. law.
To prepare Prime Minister Cameron to speak with Mr. Obama about one of the U.K.'s largest companies, British Ambassador to the U.S. Nigel Sheinwald last Friday attended BP briefings in Houston and New Orleans and then toured the damaged Florida coast. He also met Coast Guard officials.”
Examiner colleague Susan Ferrechio looks at the guarded optimism Democrats have for the reelection of Harry Reid. He is drawing nearer in polls and many believe that he will win a close race on the virtue of the huge cash advantage his corporate patrons provide over Tea Party-backed challenger Sharron Angle.
But writer Alexander Bolton looks at the X factor in Reid’s race – Barack Obama. Reid needs Obama’s blessing to keep Democrats on the team even as he courts the NRA and others. But Obama also turns off mainstream Nevada voters.
The president’s visit to raise money for Reid in Las Vegas today is brings those risks into stark relief.
“A Democrat close to Reid’s campaign said the fundraiser scheduled for Thursday evening is over capacity, a sign Obama remains very popular among Democratic voters.
The Democratic source said independent voters are also excited and noted that the effort to build CityCenter, the site of the Obama rally, stayed on track because of Reid’s help in Washington.
Bob Fulkerson, the state director of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, said liberals have become more enthusiastic about Reid’s re-election campaign but still have a way to go.”
Henninger uses the hilariously weird analogy of a village of volcano worshipers to describe Democratic prayers for an eruption of new federal spending.
The Democratic promise of the spring – that a leavening of the economy would mitigate electoral disaster this fall – has been deflated.
The Federal Reserve is looking to re-impose some emergency economic supports and bullish economists are now the ones who say that things will be stagnant through the rest of 2010.
If the economy is about the election, it’s pretty well too late for good news. And the alternate Democratic electoral strategy to fire up their base by pushing wedge issues is backfiring – my column on the political folly of suing Arizona is here http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/politics/Obama-faces-backlash-on-his-immigration-plan-97958304.html.
Henninger takes particular glee in lampooning the high priests of the volcano cult – though he doesn’t mention the greatest witch doctor of them all, Paul Krugman, by name.
“The volcanic Keynesians screamed and scribbled that the spending eruptions and the 9.5% unemployment rate were a coincidence, and that what the barren and struggling fields needed was another, thicker layer of dollar lava.
As our fable ends, the Democratic tribespeople were heading out of their Beltway enclave to visit long-abandoned ancestral lands. But the most progressive volcano worshipers stayed behind, shrieking at the now-dormant Mount Obama to produce a spending plume with greater volume and mass, and begging the great mountain's god to bring forth one more ‘multi-trillion-dollar’ eruption.”
Milbank writes a piece about the newfound maturity of former Obama green jobs czar Van Jones, but what he says about Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s deputy Jim Messina, one of the political brains of the White House operation, is even more revealing.
Jones was talking to the summer meeting of Campus Progress, the college organizing group of the Center for American Progress, which is Obama transition chief John Podesta’s effort to keep the Left humming the Obama tune.
Messina was there too. And if you want to get a sense for why the Obama team has so much trouble facing reality, read what he had to say about himself, his job and Obama.
“‘It's like a dream every single day,’ Messina said when asked about his White House job. ‘It's the single best thing.’
The kids laughed at this apparent joke, but Messina was serious. ‘It is as cool as you think it is.’ He spoke of being offered the job (‘The president-elect said, 'Hey, Messina, you want to go change the world?' ‘) and about interacting with the president (‘He gave me this big hug and a fist bump’). He suggested that immigration reform, climate legislation and an end to ‘don't ask, don't tell’ are all imminent (they aren't). He called Obama ‘the leader you all wanted him to be’ and asserted that ‘I couldn't be any more proud of the guy.’
He event tantalized the students with the possibility that, after a couple of grunt jobs, ‘you could be Jim Messina,’ a status that allows you ‘to have a cool car and work for a cool president.’”