With all of the discussion of ObamaCare’s failures, incompetencies, and flat-out lies, there has been a lot of head-scratching over accountability. No one has lost their job at HHS, for instance, for the faceplant of Healthcare.gov, not even the contractor responsible, which still has ongoing work on the project. In part, this is because no one in the administration wants to admit that anything’s seriously amiss, even though HHS will miss their enrollment target of 7 million by a wide margin — and that goal was exceedingly modest in the first place, after years of Democratic insistence that 40 million or more uninsured needed to get coverage.
There are structural reasons for the lack of accountability, too. Since ObamaCare is a multi-jurisdictional effort, no one agency in the government has oversight on the entire, sprawling mess. The Inspectors General of HHS and Treasury can only look within their own structures, which allows for stovepiping and structural disconnects for accountability. Rep. Peter Roskam wants to take a page from TARP and create a new oversight agency, and explained it today to Larry Kudlow on CNBC:
The concept is a very simple one – follow the money and give an independent oversight agent, that is a Special Inspector General, the capacity to go across all of these jurisdictional lines. Because here’s the limitations right now: the Health and Human Services Inspector General can only ask HHS questions; Treasury can only ask Treasury questions. And there’s dozens of agencies that are involved in Obamacare and no one single entity has the capacity to ask all of the questions. This will be a money saver. …
It all begs the question, which is, who watching this whole scene? And the answer is nobody is watching the whole scene in totality…the reality, Larry, is that the Administration has so wedded itself to Obamacare, a signature piece of legislation for the president, that they don’t have that dispassionate interest in trying to get to the bottom of things. They are really interested in covering up and patching through, and coming up with a whole hodgepodge approach. And the net result is – it’s individual citizens and individual businesses that are really suffering. …
I think Obamacare is a house of cards that is collapsing as it is being built. The trouble is that, as it is being built and as it is collapsing at the same time, it’s injuring people and it’s having an adverse impact on the economy. You cannot get straight answers from this Administration, which is why you need an independent oversight organization, or a Special Inspector General, that has the breadth and capacity to get and cut through all the nonsense and go from one department to the other department to put all of the pieces together to find out what’s what.
Roskam offered legislation nearly two weeks ago, titled Special Inspector General for Monitoring the Affordable Care Act (SIGMA), to duplicate the kind of accountability that TARP eventually had. That’s not to say that the TARP’s IG managed to eliminate the waste and incompetence that went into that program, but Neil Barofsky did offer plenty of sunlight on just how badly the TARP-related pieces of Obamanomics performed.
Roskam reminded National Review readers of the kind of accountability IGs can provide when truly independent:
Recent special inspectors general have been remarkably successful. Beginning in 2004, the Special Inspectors General for Iraq (SIGIR) and Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) have produced $645 million and $480 million in direct taxpayer savings, respectively. And since 2008, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) has used the broad investigative powers provided by Congress to rack up 122 convictions, 75 suspensions and debarments of federal contractors and employees, and $533 million in direct taxpayer savings. At $700 billion, the jurisdiction of SIGTARP was the largest to date, but that program pales in comparison to the $1.8 trillion in costs under Obamacare.
Don’t expect the White House to welcome SIGMA with open arms. Then-Senator Obama was certainly enthusiastic about SIGTARP, but that was before accountability applied to him and his team. House Republicans should demand this from Senate Democrats — and then demand a public explanation when they oppose it.