Coming up next: HHS confirmation hearings

posted at 8:41 am on April 11, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

The resignation of Kathleen Sebelius from her position as HHS Secretary comes as no shock to anyone paying attention to the incompetence and lack of accountability from the only project that mattered to her employment. The shock is that it took as long as it did to get rid of Sebelius, who turned the easiest part of the ObamaCare project — the web portal — into such a disaster area that it managed to momentarily distract from the enormous price increases that the rest of the law has created. By the end, even though the White House spent several days bragging about its highly-suspect enrollment numbers through the exchanges, Barack Obama couldn’t even bother to mention the woman he’d left in charge of the project after its incompetent launch.

Now Sebelius has resigned, and OMB Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell will take her place. While some claimed that this change came because “ObamaCare won,” the Washington Post report makes it very clear that the opposite was true:

A health policy specialist close to the White House said that Obama’s staff had long preferred to be “running the show” on the health-care law but that Sebelius and her aides were increasingly “cut out of the process” after the launch of HealthCare.gov escalated into a political disaster for the president.

Other senior administration officials played central roles in helping repair the Web site and steer the law’s implementation after the rollout. Jeffrey D. Zients, a former OMB official who directs the National Economic Council, rejoined the administration to spearhead a team of federal employees and contractors who worked to repair HealthCare.gov. Meanwhile, Phil Schiliro, who served as Obama’s chief legislative liaison during his first term, returned in December to oversee the policy side of the law.

Sebelius was not part of the group of White House aides who recently told Obama in the Oval Office that health-care enrollment had surpassed 7 million. While she sat in the front row as the president told the nation on April 1 about the law’s success, he did not mention her in his speech.

Burwell got an easy ride from the Senate in her confirmation as OMB Director, with a 96-0 vote for confirmation last year. But that was just six months after Barack Obama’s re-election, and well before any hint of the disaster to come at HHS. This time around, Burwell herself may get an easy confirmation vote in the end, but the hearings will be anything but smooth for the Obama administration:

Buckle up and get your gavels ready — here comes another round of contentious, high-profile hearings.

And they’re coming just in time for campaign season, ahead of what was already going to be a difficult summer of people getting acclimated to their new plans and new insurance rates being announced.

Democrats will be hoping Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s resignation — kept tightly under wraps since the one-on-one meeting in early March when she gave Obama the news — will finally force the president closer to the offensive, aggressive position on Obamacare that they’d been begging for.

Er … sure. The timing couldn’t be worse, which is one reason why Politico reports later in the story that the White House never bothered to tell senior Democratic leadership in the Senate about Sebelius’ resignation. The last thing Democrats wanted in the summer of 2014 was a high-profile confirmation hearing that will focus on all of the failures of ObamaCare, with the news media forced to follow it. Democrats want to talk about income inequality, Equal Pay Day, Paul Ryan’s budget, the weather – anything but ObamaCare, especially this summer. That’s when the 2015 premium prices will start coming out, and amplify the unhappiness already being felt in the electorate over ObamaCare.

The time to dump Sebelius was in November, when the scope of her incompetence became clear. That would have allowed Obama to look tough, gain him some extra political breathing room for fixes, and most importantly would have moved up confirmation hearings to keep them nearly a year away from the midterms. According to the Post’s report, the White House all but cut Sebelius out of the management of the system anyway, so why keep her on board at all? Forcing Sebelius out now not only steps all over their message of “victory,” but also moves the confirmation hearings and the reamplified debate over ObamaCare within a few months of the midterms — giving Republicans the perfect platform to frame the elections and trump the weak economic agenda of Democrats.

Apparently, incompetence in this administration isn’t limited to HHS. Or State. Or Justice. Or …


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The usual RINO backstabbers will support her of course.

ConstantineXI on April 11, 2014 at 8:43 AM

Sorry Ed, the press will cover this the same way as Fast & Furious, and Benghazi. They won’t. And the clock will run out.

That’s what the admin is betting anyway.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on April 11, 2014 at 8:46 AM

Two words – recess appointment.

Steve Eggleston on April 11, 2014 at 8:47 AM

The Changing of the Guard……

Electrongod on April 11, 2014 at 8:47 AM

The usual RINO backstabbers will support her of course.

ConstantineXI on April 11, 2014 at 8:43 AM

Probably. But the base can always vote them out next time they’re up for reelection. If they can’t take a stand on this, their supposed signature issue, then what the hell are they there for?

Doughboy on April 11, 2014 at 8:48 AM

then what the hell are they there for?

Doughboy on April 11, 2014 at 8:48 AM

To get invited to the “good” cocktail parties in DC. Which they don’t anymore because of THOSE DAMN TEA PARTY HOBBITSES!

ConstantineXI on April 11, 2014 at 8:53 AM

I hope Republicans don’t waste a lot of time trying to stop this. The Dems don’t know anybody capable or honest. She’s just another useless liberal from their pool.

crankyoldlady on April 11, 2014 at 8:54 AM

They’re going to need the OMB director when they’re playing their shell game of shifting funding from one bucket to another to support this boondoggle.

blammm on April 11, 2014 at 8:56 AM

Great, appointing a bean counter to run our health care system. The reason dear leader didn’t fire KS in Nov. was everyone on the right was calling for it. He didn’t want to look any weaker than he already looked.

Kissmygrits on April 11, 2014 at 8:58 AM

I hope Republicans don’t waste a lot of time trying to stop this. The Dems don’t know anybody capable or honest. She’s just another useless liberal from their pool.

crankyoldlady on April 11, 2014 at 8:54 AM

It’s not about stopping it. It’s about using this hearing to expose Obamacare as a failure and to demand hard data with regard to who’s signed up and who’s actually paid.

Doughboy on April 11, 2014 at 8:59 AM

Apparently, incompetence in this administration isn’t limited to HHS. Or State. Or Justice. Or …

Ya think?

workingclass artist on April 11, 2014 at 9:01 AM

So Cruella’s replacement is the gal who decided to shut down every open space public park in DC back in October? Yeah, that type of behavior should be rewarded.

HumpBot Salvation on April 11, 2014 at 9:01 AM

Are hearings really necessary? Can’t we just skip straight to the vote?

First, it’s our first black president. Only a racist would oppose someone he wants in the job.

Second, she is a woman.

Finally, War on Women!

In conclusion, can’t we just skip straight to the vote?

Baggi on April 11, 2014 at 9:03 AM

So Cruella’s replacement is the gal who decided to shut down every open space public park in DC back in October? Yeah, that type of behavior should be rewarded.

HumpBot Salvation on April 11, 2014 at 9:01 AM

Fine by me. It gives the GOP more ammo in these hearings.

Doughboy on April 11, 2014 at 9:03 AM

It’s also possible Sebelius knows how the Supreme Court plans on ruling in the Hobby Lobby case. If that ruling goes against the government, she’d have to think of all kinds of lies in order to answer the obvious question from Congress, why would anyone draw up and implement such an unconstitutional regulation. She would be pummeled, and rightly so.

Just my two cents.

Steve Tsouloufis on April 11, 2014 at 9:03 AM

So Cruella’s replacement is the gal who decided to shut down every open space public park in DC back in October? Yeah, that type of behavior should be rewarded.

HumpBot Salvation on April 11, 2014 at 9:01 AM

I hope they ask her about that.

crankyoldlady on April 11, 2014 at 9:04 AM

Great, appointing a bean counter to run our health care system. The reason dear leader didn’t fire KS in Nov. was everyone on the right was calling for it. He didn’t want to look any weaker than he already looked.

Kissmygrits on April 11, 2014 at 8:58 AM

So Cruella’s replacement is the gal who decided to shut down every open space public park in DC back in October? Yeah, that type of behavior should be rewarded.

HumpBot Salvation on April 11, 2014 at 9:01 AM

Who better to run the Death Panels that are part of PlaceboCare?

Oh yeah – look for the cost of PlaceboCare to go up by another 15%.

Steve Eggleston on April 11, 2014 at 9:04 AM

Apparently, incompetence in this administration isn’t limited to HHS. Or State. Or Justice. Or …

Ya think?

workingclass artist on April 11, 2014 at 9:01 AM

Narcissists never surround themselves with people who are smarter or more capable than they are. With Barry, that bar is so low it’s a CHALLENGE to find people to fill roles in his Regime…

ConstantineXI on April 11, 2014 at 9:04 AM

The timing couldn’t be worse, which is one reason why Politico reports later in the story that the White House never bothered to tell senior Democratic leadership in the Senate about Sebelius’ resignation.

I’m not sure I buy this line of reasoning. The GOP beating up on a girl over Obamacare is a pretty good distraction from the many ways that Obamacare will be imploding by July.

Happy Nomad on April 11, 2014 at 9:04 AM

ust my two cents.

Steve Tsouloufis on April 11, 2014 at 9:03 AM

Oh yeah. It’s about creating a clean slate.

crankyoldlady on April 11, 2014 at 9:05 AM

Fine by me. It gives the GOP more ammo in these hearings.

Doughboy on April 11, 2014 at 9:03 AM

But will they start expending it?

Steve Eggleston on April 11, 2014 at 9:05 AM

I hope Republicans don’t waste a lot of time trying to stop this. The Dems don’t know anybody capable or honest. She’s just another useless liberal from their pool.

crankyoldlady on April 11, 2014 at 8:54 AM

It’s not about stopping it. It’s about using this hearing to expose Obamacare as a failure and to demand hard data with regard to who’s signed up and who’s actually paid.

Doughboy on April 11, 2014 at 8:59 AM

Yep.

It will be interesting what comes up under questioning…might be good political theatre and everything on video.

workingclass artist on April 11, 2014 at 9:06 AM

The shock is that it took as long as it did to get rid of Sebelius, who turned the easiest part of the ObamaCare project — the web portal — into such a disaster area that it managed to momentarily distract from the enormous price increases that the rest of the law has created.

Which makes me wonder if that wasn’t the intent. It’s not like Dear Liar’s regime doesn’t know anyone in Silicon Valley whom they could hire to put out an Amazonhealthcare.com site.

Instead, screwup the website so people will talk about that rather than bitching about the higher prices for fewer options with increased deductibles.

rbj on April 11, 2014 at 9:06 AM

So Cruella’s replacement is the gal who decided to shut down every open space public park in DC back in October? Yeah, that type of behavior should be rewarded.

HumpBot Salvation on April 11, 2014 at 9:01 AM

They should wheel some World War II veterans in there to ask her why she saw fit to close their OPEN AIR memorial that, by the way, was paid for with PRIVATE funds…

ConstantineXI on April 11, 2014 at 9:06 AM

So Cruella’s replacement is the gal who decided to shut down every open space public park in DC back in October? Yeah, that type of behavior should be rewarded.

HumpBot Salvation on April 11, 2014 at 9:01 AM

I hope they ask her about that.

crankyoldlady on April 11, 2014 at 9:04 AM

Yep.

workingclass artist on April 11, 2014 at 9:07 AM

isn’t limited to HHS. Or State. Or Justice. Or …

Heh. I see what you did right there…

ted c on April 11, 2014 at 9:09 AM

isn’t limited to HHS. Or State. Or Justice. Or …

Heh. I see what you did right there…

ted c on April 11, 2014 at 9:09 AM

Heck, the First “Lady” in this Regime doesn’t even have any experience being a lady.

ConstantineXI on April 11, 2014 at 9:10 AM

According to the Post’s report, the White House all but cut Sebelius out of the management of the system anyway, so why keep her on board at all?

Because Obama appointed her and Obama can’t be wrong. That’s why.

Johnnyreb on April 11, 2014 at 9:16 AM

So Cruella’s replacement is the gal who decided to shut down every open space public park in DC back in October? Yeah, that type of behavior should be rewarded.

HumpBot Salvation on April 11, 2014 at 9:01 AM

Absolutely. Healthcare calls for iron fist rule and absolute loyalty to the Regime. The great leap forward to comprehensive collective health will not happen by itself.

forest on April 11, 2014 at 9:17 AM

Fine by me. It gives the GOP more ammo in these hearings.

Doughboy on April 11, 2014 at 9:03 AM

But will they start expending it?

Steve Eggleston on April 11, 2014 at 9:05 AM

No worries, they have 30 round clips..full of blanks.

HumpBot Salvation on April 11, 2014 at 9:28 AM

GOP should refuse to confirm any Obama appointments until Obamacare is repealed.

I’m sure they’ll cave as usual though.

nazo311 on April 11, 2014 at 9:29 AM

Burwell is just another inept, inexperienced left wing hack being rewarded for her loyalty to The Regime.The confirmation hearings will be another dog and pony show and the GOP will vote to confirm her just to “get along”.

jeffinsjvca on April 11, 2014 at 9:38 AM

It’s not about stopping it. It’s about using this hearing to expose Obamacare as a failure and to demand hard data with regard to who’s signed up and who’s actually paid.

Doughboy on April 11, 2014 at 8:59 AM

Spot on. Don’t waste time attacking the nominee personally. Ask for every single data point. How many have enrolled? How many were previously uninsured? How many went on Medicaid? How many have actually paid their premiums? How many are the ailing elderly vice the healthy young? How did you get your data? Where is your data? Why has the employer mandate been postponed? When will it be enforced? And on and on. She’ll have to cop to the truth, lie through her ass or stammer like her Lord Barack without a teleprompter. And none of these scenarios are good for the All Animals Are Equal Party assuming the Please Don’t Exclude Me From Your Dinner Party Party has the nerve to see it through.

dreadnought62 on April 11, 2014 at 9:56 AM

Oh, great! So she’ll be ready to shut down all government health services at the first mention of budget cuts (or any other reason).

RoadRunner on April 11, 2014 at 9:56 AM

Just focus on lack of qualifications. She doesn’t have them. Say what you will, but at least the last three Sebelius, Leavitt and Thompson were governors who had at least some involvement in health care for their states.

monalisa on April 11, 2014 at 10:01 AM

It’s not about stopping it. It’s about using this hearing to expose Obamacare as a failure and to demand hard data with regard to who’s signed up and who’s actually paid.

That. Tell her right up front, we want the actual numbers, all of them, all broken down by who paid, who had coverage before, who didn’t, everything, or there will be no vote, period, final offer, end of negotiation.

Dirty Creature on April 11, 2014 at 10:08 AM

Heck, the First “Lady” in this Regime doesn’t even have any experience being a lady.

ConstantineXI on April 11, 2014 at 9:10 AM

But her ARMS! she has such magnificent toned arms! The press always says so!

climbnjump on April 11, 2014 at 10:16 AM

McCain, Graham, and Ayotte are ready to announce that her confirmation deserves an up or down vote and even though they all oppose her confirmation they will vote yea on cloture and no on confirmation. Then go back home and tell us rubes how they voted no and cloture votes are a procedural thing that are part of the process that don’t mater in the big picture. They do it every time and get away with it. “Nuff to make ya sick.”

RickinNH on April 11, 2014 at 10:38 AM

Couldn’t Republicans indefinitly delay the appointment and effectively sgut down Obamacare?

Varchild on April 11, 2014 at 11:42 AM

Couldn’t Republicans indefinitly delay the appointment and effectively shut down Obamacare?

Varchild on April 11, 2014 at 11:42 AM

That’s a political trap. Dems will go to great lengths to share blame for OCare troubles on a leaderless HHS due to Repub obstructionism on confirmation. Rs can’t go there; they need to expedite, before the stink gets on ‘em and won’t come off.

SomeCallMeJohn on April 11, 2014 at 1:07 PM

…wow!…notice how attractive she is!
…)yes…I know…that’s shallow!)

KOOLAID2 on April 11, 2014 at 1:45 PM

The usual RINO backstabbers will support her of course.

ConstantineXI on April 11, 2014 at 8:43 AM

Of course, because every president is entitled to get his selections for such positions and shouldn’t be denied.

No worries, they have 30 round clips..full of blanks.

HumpBot Salvation on April 11, 2014 at 9:28 AM

And that won’t matter….they won’t be squeezing off any rounds at all.

hawkeye54 on April 11, 2014 at 1:58 PM

…wow!…notice how attractive she is!
…)yes…I know…that’s shallow!)

KOOLAID2 on April 11, 2014 at 1:45 PM

Meh, you can put lipstick on a pig prog and it’s still a pig prog.

hawkeye54 on April 11, 2014 at 2:00 PM

Spot on. Don’t waste time attacking the nominee personally. Ask for every single data point. How many have enrolled? How many were previously uninsured? How many went on Medicaid? How many have actually paid their premiums? How many are the ailing elderly vice the healthy young? How did you get your data? Where is your data? Why has the employer mandate been postponed? When will it be enforced? And on and on. She’ll have to cop to the truth, lie through her ass or stammer like her Lord Barack without a teleprompter. And none of these scenarios are good for the All Animals Are Equal Party assuming the Please Don’t Exclude Me From Your Dinner Party Party has the nerve to see it through.

dreadnought62 on April 11, 2014 at 9:56 AM

If Burwell isn’t in the position yet, how would she know the answers?

jim56 on April 11, 2014 at 2:10 PM

Democrats will be hoping Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s resignation — kept tightly under wraps since the one-on-one meeting in early March when she gave Obama the news — will finally force the president closer to the offensive, aggressive position on Obamacare that they’d been begging for.

Ah yes, maybe he’ll do EVERYTHING possible from being on the news, to lowbrows youtube humorous videos on the web… wait, he already did all of those.

What more do they think is even possible?

gekkobear on April 11, 2014 at 3:08 PM

Couldn’t Republicans indefinitly delay the appointment and effectively shut down Obamacare?

Varchild on April 11, 2014 at 11:42 AM

That’s a political trap. Dems will go to great lengths to share blame for OCare troubles on a leaderless HHS due to Repub obstructionism on confirmation. Rs can’t go there; they need to expedite, before the stink gets on ‘em and won’t come off.

SomeCallMeJohn on April 11, 2014 at 1:07 PM

It actually might run better without a brainless Democratic Party apparatchik at the head. Without her there, the ‘in-charges’, probably long-time civil servants that are likely to be the most competent people in the organization would take over.

slickwillie2001 on April 11, 2014 at 5:19 PM