GOP whacks Berwick appointment, healthcare law in weekly address

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) used the GOP’s weekly address to
bash President Barack Obama’s recess appointment of Dr. Donald Berwick to run
Medicare and Medicaid, alleging it “flies in the face” of administration
pledges of transparency.

Roberts attacked Berwick – who Obama appointed to head the
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services during the July 4 congressional
break – for several past statements, including his remark that health care
funding plans should redistribute wealth from the richer to the poorest.

{mosads}Roberts also reiterated GOP criticism of the sweeping new
Democratic health care law when slamming Berwick, a Harvard University

“Well, the obvious fear is Dr. Berwick will in fact use this
position to redistribute the wealth in our country, cementing Obamacare as a
giant, but stealthy, income transfer machine,” Roberts said.

Roberts called the use of a recess appointment – which
allows presidents to bypass Senate confirmation – inappropriate, especially in
light of the massive programs that Berwick will oversee.

“Without a public confirmation hearing on Dr. Berwick’s
nomination, the Senate and the American people do not have the opportunity to
learn about the man who will control one third of all health care spending in
America,” he said.

But Obama defended the appointment of Berwick – who will
oversee critical aspects of the new health care law – in an interview with NBC
that aired Friday.

Obama slammed Senate obstruction of the nomination made in
April, and said he opted for a recess appointment because matter was too urgent
to be caught up in “political games.”

“[W]hen it comes specifically to appointments … there have
been more delays, obstruction and stalling when it comes to just appointing
people to run the day-to-day aspects of Washington than any president has
experienced in history,” Obama said. “And, you know, the fact of the matter is,
is that I can’t play political games with the Senate on these issues. I’ve got
a government to run.”

Roberts, however, seized on recent comments by Finance
Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) criticizing the recess appointment to
cast concern with the action as a bipartisan affair. Baucus on July 7 said he
was “troubled” by the use of a recess appointment rather than the standard
Senate confirmation process.

“I could not agree more with my Democrat colleague,” said
Roberts, who sits on the Finance Committee as well as the Health, Education,
Labor and Pensions Committee, which both have jurisdiction over major aspects
of health policy.

“We urge the president to reconsider his recess appointment
of Dr. Berwick and encourage the Finance Committee to at least hold a public
hearing now,” he said.

“The president’s health care plan – the most sweeping
overhaul of health care in our lifetime – cannot be implemented behind closed
doors. This is a warning! Your health care and the care of your loved ones now
hangs in the balance. Americans deserve answers,” Roberts added.

Tags Barack Obama Max Baucus Pat Roberts

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