Senate Dems give up on Berwick

posted at 4:00 pm on March 6, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Barack Obama’s renomination of Donald Berwick to lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) came as a surprise on Capitol Hill.  Presidents do not usually renominate recess appointments after a recess ends their term unless the recess appointment was a true emergency or the President in question wants to make a point.  In Berwick’s case the decision makes even less sense, as Obama gave the controversial Berwick the recess appointment without even allowing the Senate to hold a single hearing when his party had nearly a supermajority in the Senate.  Indeed, Berwick didn’t even do the Senate the courtesy of completing his questionnaire before Obama bypassed Capitol Hill.

Needless to say, Republicans in the Senate aren’t about to give Berwick an easy ride on what would be his first job interview in the Senate, and now Democrats have decided that they’re not too keen to turn it into a fight, either:

Senate Democrats have given up on confirming Don Berwick as CMS administrator in the wake of a letter from 42 Republican senators opposing the nomination, sources tell POLITICO. …

At a meeting with health care lobbyists Friday, Democratic Senate Finance Committee staffers indicated that the nomination is dead, that there will be no confirmation hearing, and that they’ll soon be discussing “next steps” for CMS, sources said.

In fairness, some of the Democrats were angered by Obama’s ham-fisted move last year in giving Berwick his recess appointment.  Max Baucus would have voted to confirm Berwick the first time around but ended up blasting the White House for bypassing his committee.  The fact that five Republicans didn’t sign the letter would normally have provided the Democrats an opening to drive a wedge and use hearings to paint the GOP as radical and extreme.  Their decision to throw in the towel this early in the process shows that Berwick’s re-nomination was none too popular within their caucus as well.

The question will be whether Obama accepts defeat this time and picks someone less controversial to run Medicare and Medicaid, or whether he sticks a thumb in the Senate’s eye and gives Berwick another recess appointment.  Given the infighting between the White House and Senate Democrats on the budget, Obama will probably decide that discretion is the better part of valor in this case and look for Plan B.


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Plan B for barry? Refer to Plan A…….

t on March 6, 2011 at 4:07 PM

as we know dear leader’s MO, he will double down and make him a recessa appt once again…

cmsinaz on March 6, 2011 at 4:08 PM

dude never recognizes defeat, he just thinks if we just understand a little bit better all will be right in the world…

cmsinaz on March 6, 2011 at 4:09 PM

Lui should be next to scratch off the dems list…

cmsinaz on March 6, 2011 at 4:10 PM

Let the games begin as this is what zero is setting up.

dragondrop on March 6, 2011 at 4:10 PM

Looks like the Maine sisters now have a new sister to be a thorn in the side: Lena Jabroski. I shall henceforth refer to them collectively as the “little women”.

SouthernGent on March 6, 2011 at 4:15 PM

I forget. Is this guy the communist or the guy who thinks Death Panels are a swell idea?

Kafir on March 6, 2011 at 4:15 PM

I forget. Is this guy the communist or the guy who thinks Death Panels are a swell idea?

Kafir on March 6, 2011 at 4:15 PM

The latter, IIRC. He’s also the guy who absolutely loves the British National Health despite all of the obvious flaws being exposed there over the past few years.

teke184 on March 6, 2011 at 4:20 PM

I wouldn’t be surprised at Obama doing another “thumb in the eye.” He favors that approach. Berwick is also the guy who believes that medical and nursing students should be trained to accept standardized approaches to care over their individual professional judgements. Can you say “Death Panels”? Nevermind, just check on the pitiful Baby Joseph saga.

indypat on March 6, 2011 at 4:25 PM

I agree with Avik Roy at NRO’s The Corner:

President Obama’s appointment of Don Berwick served a useful purpose: It highlighted both Obama’s true views about health policy, and the broader goals that underlie Obamacare. I doubt Berwick’s departure will have much effect on what Obama’s CMS actually strives to achieve.

Perhaps, tho’ a good confirmation fight would further harm Obama’s re-election. Berwick’s views aren’t even close to being “mainstream”.

cartooner on March 6, 2011 at 4:27 PM

These are “his people”….

d1carter on March 6, 2011 at 4:29 PM

Plan C

Make him a Czar and untouchable from the irrelevant congress. Put him in potion that is not open to approval yet doing the same if not more to make the Health care system a tool to redistribute the wealth and like the National Health of UK.

The Memo is being sent, if you don’t think this is the best thing “the one” can ever do you must be racist to the President and you hate poor people.

tjexcite on March 6, 2011 at 4:31 PM

Maybe Obama just hasnt explained his reasons properly, or in a manner that the Senate can understand. Its all in the messaging.

Koa on March 6, 2011 at 4:32 PM

Plan B for barry? Refer to Plan A…….

t on March 6, 2011 at 4:07 PM

Yep, Plan B for Barry is double down on Plan A.

Good. Bring it.

petefrt on March 6, 2011 at 4:33 PM

In Berwick’s case the decision makes even less sense, as Obama gave the controversial Berwick the recess appointment without even allowing the Senate to hold a single hearing when his party had nearly a supermajority in the Senate.

Since when does Barry do anything that makes any sense?

Barry will double down on stupid and stick with Berwick.

Knucklehead on March 6, 2011 at 4:35 PM

Plan B for barry? Refer to Plan A…….

t on March 6, 2011 at 4:07 PM

Yep, Plan B for Barry is double down on Plan A.

Good. Bring it.

petefrt on March 6, 2011 at 4:33 PM

I refer to Things Mr. Welch Is No Longer Allowed To Do In An RPG…

15. Plan B is not automatically twice as much gunpowder as Plan A.

Someone needs to start putting together a version called Things Mr. Obama Is No Longer Allowed To Do As President, frankly.

teke184 on March 6, 2011 at 4:41 PM

Let’s remember that Berwick prefers assisted government wealth redistribution in line with the British and Canadian model of healthcare.

Lets make people wait forever to see a doctor while explaining end of life options. Little care, no options.

Kini on March 6, 2011 at 4:44 PM

A tiny bit of good news. Cherish it. Berwick is the statists’ statist.

AshleyTKing on March 6, 2011 at 4:55 PM

um who were the 5 traitors?

MeatHeadinCA on March 6, 2011 at 5:09 PM

In fairness, some of the Democrats were angered by Obama’s ham-fisted move last year in giving Berwick his recess appointment.

Muslims don’t like ham. That is, unless it’s on some ribs.

ted c on March 6, 2011 at 5:14 PM

But I thought he won… and he’s the president of like everything… so how can anyone refuse him his brilliant choices and actions? The Senate is just a little body of Americans… they don’t matter to his ambitions and plans to perfect us.

beatcanvas on March 6, 2011 at 5:14 PM

Plan B is another recess appointment. After all, Barry is “The One”.

GarandFan on March 6, 2011 at 5:21 PM

But I thought he won… and he’s the president of like everything…

beatcanvas on March 6, 2011 at 5:14 PM

Obama can only stand on edge of the boat shouting “I’m King of the World” before a wave comes along and sweeps him out to sea.

Kini on March 6, 2011 at 5:26 PM

um who were the 5 traitors?

MeatHeadinCA on March 6, 2011 at 5:09 PM

Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Scott Brown and Rob Portman

Knucklehead on March 6, 2011 at 5:35 PM

Obama will probably decide that discretion is the better part of valor in this case and look for Plan B.

I’d bet the other way.

MSimon on March 6, 2011 at 5:41 PM

Obama gets away with everything. I wouldn’t be surprised if he recess appoints him again. If not he will find someone just as radical who is a minority. Alternatively, Obama will nominate someone noncontroversial, then Berwick can be appointed as an “assistant” to Sebelius, similar to what they did with Elizabeth Warren b/c they didnt think she could be confirmed.

chris999 on March 6, 2011 at 5:48 PM

I do wonder what the Senate would do to a re-recess appointment… perhaps start negotiating with the House to pull funding for HHS on the executive side and require that the civil service put their highest member up as answerable for the department, maybe.

Really, if Obama can’t be bothered to do the right thing, then the Senate is getting informed that they don’t matter any more, and nothing bothers the petty Aristocrats than to hear from the Nobility that they don’t matter any more. Something about getting a horse into the Senate is going on, and the asses will see exactly where they sit when their power is ignored, completely.

ajacksonian on March 6, 2011 at 5:51 PM

Oh dear, I hope this gets bho’s golf game off hearing this news! Probably just cheat with the score anyway.
L

letget on March 6, 2011 at 6:04 PM

Excuse me but how does Obama make a recess appointment at this juncture? Senate is in session.

Dr. Dog on March 6, 2011 at 6:09 PM

Dr.Dog@6.09,
The dc bunch will probably be getting out for a week or so for St. Patrick’s day! They take off for everything else.
L

letget on March 6, 2011 at 6:13 PM

Obutthead will just scratch his nose with his finger, as he reasserts Berwick.

He’s made it clear, he’s not going to let Congress be they Dem or Republican, or the constitution stand in his way. He’s deemed himself ruler and king, and no one….and I mean no one is going to stand in his way of what he wants.

We’re just supposed to say…yes sir, and like it.

capejasmine on March 6, 2011 at 7:08 PM

The question will be whether Obama accepts defeat this time and picks someone less controversial to run Medicare and Medicaid, or whether he sticks a thumb in the Senate’s eye and gives Berwick another recess appointment.

Technically, I believe little Bammie can repeat a recess appointment on Berwick, but during a second period as a recess appointment he cannot receive a government salary. Can anyone confirm?

Alternately, he can just make him a Czar.

slickwillie2001 on March 6, 2011 at 7:36 PM

Obama has more ’60s radical commie leftists in his administration than I thought existed, and I was in college during that time. ✪

TXUS on March 6, 2011 at 8:24 PM

What’ws wrong with Josef–(er-Donald) Mengele (I mean Berwick) heading CMS? Achtung!!!

MaiDee on March 6, 2011 at 8:54 PM

Another “SMART POWER” tactic!!

Khun Joe on March 6, 2011 at 10:37 PM

Isn’t it unconstitutional to recess appoint Berwick a 2nd time? My understanding has always been that you could recess appoint a candidate but, that ended when the next Congress was sworn in and you had to, either nominate the candidate again or send up another for confirmation. If Obama does it again, there could be serious trouble in paradise.

bflat879 on March 6, 2011 at 10:51 PM

zip
Pissing on Fruit Loops.

I’m suprised so many think Osama is “stupid” and without “plan B”.

He’s so “stupid” he’s going to be re-elected.

Soon the “real” media will begin explaining why the economy is really better than you Republican-duped rubes think it is…and that the bad parts are not Osama’s fault. The Repubs are causing gridlock…Do you really think the Race card will go to the bottom of the deck?

zip

SwabJockey on March 7, 2011 at 3:39 AM

Plan B? MORE COWBELL!

tpitman on March 7, 2011 at 6:21 AM

They should have snuck his appointment into the original bill – nobody would have noticed.

Vashta.Nerada on March 7, 2011 at 9:44 AM