In the course of nearly eight years, President Obama has managed to “fundamentally transform” this nation in many ways, to our great detriment. But the single most pernicious legacy he leaves is the massive transfer of power from Congress to the presidency, accomplished through relentless power grabs that have been only feebly challenged by congressional Republicans.
With only months left in office, Obama is becoming increasingly brazen. Even if — especially if — Trump wins on Nov. 8, that trend is going to accelerate. It’s up to Congress (gulp) to do everything it can to protect what’s left of the Constitution until January 3.
They need to start stepping up, now: Obama’s latest power grab threatens to destroy the very idea that the Executive Branch’s job is to implement the laws that Congress passes.
Here’s the background: 271 pages into Obamacare, there’s a bureaucratic Trojan Horse. The language creates a new office, the “Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation” (CMMI), purportedly to conduct “pilot studies” about how to reduce costs and improve care.
Who could be against that, right? The catch is, the fine print grants the CMMI the authority to waive virtually anything in the laws that establish what Medicare is.
Then, if CMMI deems the pilot study to have been a success, they can require the entire Medicare program to do whatever was in their pilot study — without Congress ever passing a new law.
Do you see what this is? The bureaucrats implementing Medicare now have the power to completely redefine Medicare based on a pilot study they invent and evaluate.
The kicker is, now that Congress is giving this critical look, the Obama administration is arguing that Congress needs to pay for the “savings” the program will supposedly, in some, currently unknown way, generate. They even somehow convinced the Congressional Budget Office, which has looked dubiously at projected savings from pilot programs in hundreds of previous cases until this one, to estimate the amount at $34 billion.
“There is no cost-benefit analysis, there is no testing done, you don’t even know what they’re going to be looking at, but you’re saying this is going to save $34 billion,” Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) told CBO’s deputy director at a recent congressional hearing. “That, sir, sounds absolutely absurd to me.”
Even the “pilot studies” themselves are deeply problematic given how Obama officials are planning to implement them.
Obamacare says they can force doctors and Medicare patients to participate in the program, unlike the vast majority of pilot studies, which are voluntary.
Also, studies trying to assess whether a brand new approach might work usually start with a small segment of a given population.
Not CMMI. The government agency is planning to force 75 percent of the country to be the guinea pigs for one of its very first experiments!
In other words, these power-crazed maniacs couldn’t even wait until after their fig leaf “study” to begin foisting their Medicare rewrite on the American public.
The move was so brazen that every single member of the Senate Finance Committee, both Republicans and Democrats, united in opposing CMMI’s plan.
Do you understand how radical something has to be to get every Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee — including arch-partisan and soon-to-be Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer — to push back against an Obama power grab?
These people cheered for executive amnesty. They praised the “recess” appointments the Supreme Court smacked down 9-0. They’ve been on CYA patrol in every investigation. They even begged him to do gun control by fiat.
When Schumer and his pals say Obama’s gone too far, you know we have a serious problem.
Congress needs to step in, STAT, to head off this dangerous precedent.
The first step is ignoring the ridiculous claim they need to “pay for” this program’s savings by cutting spending elsewhere.
First of all, as a matter of principle, it’s completely bogus to count projected savings from programs that don’t exist yet and can’t be directly evaluated.
Second of all, if you give Obama (or Hillary) the power to rewrite Medicare, trust me: we are not going to be saving any money.
And given the bipartisan opposition (in the House, 242 members from both parties signed a letter opposing the CMMI’s experiment), this pretty much the perfect type of thing to fight for in budget negotiations, either now or in December (when Congress comes back to pass laws at the precise moment in the electoral cycle it is least accountable to voters).
Congress, Obama’s basically crushed you in every showdown over the last several years. The guy’s on his way out — let’s win one. You can do it.
Congress needs to stand up the Administration’s power grabs or risk becoming irrelevant.