Pesky voters no obstacle to Obama health plans

President Obama has a problem, one familiar to smarmy salesmen since the beginning of time. His product stinks, and consumers know it.  The packaging looked nice at first. The copy was well-written and well-delivered, but the dogs won't eat the food. What to do?

The genius of the Obama campaign was inspiring millions of Oprah worshippers, teenyboppers, and similar pop culture aficionados whose only previous experience with voting involved texting a 5 digit number on Tuesday night to choose the next "American Idol," to discover those other elections, the ones with actual consequences. As it turns out, while this strategy was great for Barack Obama and his presidential prospects, it was a disaster for this country. Whether you loved David Cook for his impish good looks and his inspiring story about his brother, or rooted for Adam Lambert because of his slightly brooding, semi-sinister persona, neither of them could destroy our health care system, embolden our enemies, weaken our national security or otherwise "remake" America.

In that charming style he no doubt perfected while learning his craft in that stinking slough of corruption, the Chicago political machine, Barack Obama responds to any suggestion that he might want to proceed with caution before jettisoning virtually everything that makes America great, with a simple answer: I won. Get lost. Your role is to submit and pay, serf. Clearly, even if many of his voters didn't realize it, Barack knows that elections have consequences. Now that the people have voted for they supposedly want, to paraphrase H.L. Mencken, he's looking to see that we get it good and hard.

One important consequence of the presidential election is that as The One (or is it the Won?), has the prerogative to appoint Supreme Court justices, life-tenured and unaccountable: in other words, the perfect agents of change for a lifelong Marxist hell-bent of turning this country into a socialist utopia. The Left understands that it is impossible to impose its agenda on people through popular elections. The reason is easy for normal Americans to understand, although it may beyond the ability of some of the myopic members of the panting, slobbering pack of Obama acolytes who laughingly refer to themselves as "journalists" to appreciate. I'll speak slowly so that even Keith Olbermann can understand.

Things we normal Americans believe in: God, American exceptionalism and self-reliance. Things we don't believe in: the all-powerful State, surrendering to our enemies, and handouts of our hard-earned and shortly thereafter confiscated money from the political class to its cronies and mascot groups, otherwise known as the Left's agenda. It's a non-starter at the ballot box, so they've had to come up with some other strategies, such as enactments by an activist Supreme Court. That method is effective, as far as it goes, but it may not be sufficient to implement all the sweeping changes envisioned by the Radical Leftist in Chief.

Like me, some of you may fondly recall a town meeting back in 1989, when the corrupt, toadish future felon and then Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Dan Rostenkowski (D-Mail Fraud)  was literally chased out of a Chicago hall by an enraged mob of his elderly constituents, whose hair colors ranged from blue to white to none. He barely escaped into his waiting getaway car ahead of the rapidly -- "rapid" being a relative term -- advancing horde of seniors, menacing him with their walkers, canes and AARP cards sharpened into makeshift shivs. OK, I made that last part up, but the congressman's hasty and desperate retreat is true. Honestly, from the way they beat it out of there, you'd have thought that he and his aide had knocked over a liquor store. Later we learned that Danny "the Stamp" Rostenkowski preferred to steal from taxpayers in the comfort and privacy of his own Congressional office.

I suspect that some readers are wondering what this little trip down memory lane has to do with Barack Obama's plans to impose his Marxist vision on America. I have a point. As Ross Perot would say, stay with me. The answer is everything, and here's why. The lesson of the Rostenkowski incident was not lost of politicians, particularly hacks in Chicago like Rahm Emanuel. Democrats well understand that Medicare and Social Security will remain the notorious "third rail" of American politics as long as Congress is in charge of setting Medicare reimbursement rates, as it is now. They were the ones who relentless demagogued this issue in 1994 and 1995. Just ask Newt Gingrich. There's the rub. How can Barack and his merry band of elite experts do what they know is good for us, even if we don't, if they have to answer to rabble of annoying ordinary citizens?

Their solution is to convert the current Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPac), an agency that makes recommendations on Medicare spending to Congress, into a new and improved Independent Medicare Advisory Council (IMAC), "improved" in that it will be completely under the control of the executive branch, its members appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, just like the Supreme Court. From the New York Times:

Under the White House plan, the new agency would also propose broader "reforms to the Medicare program." Mr. Obama even suggested, in a recent speech to the 50-and-over advocacy group AARP, that the new agency could compare the effectiveness of treatments for particular conditions. The agency, he said, could "provide recommendations about what treatments work best and what gives you the best value for your health care dollar."


So far, Mr. Obama's proposal has been welcomed by health economists and fiscal hawks eager to reduce the federal budget deficit and slow the growth of Medicare. But the proposal has received a cool reception in Congress. ...

One goal is to save money in an apolitical, technocratic way. But lawmakers are concerned that Mr. Obama's proposal would turn what is now an independent Congressional agency into an executive branch body, with members appointed by the president. And if the panel tried to translate judgments about the effectiveness of various medical treatments into Medicare payment policy, Congress's ability to tamp down any political outcry might be limited.

Let's be charitable and assume that Barack Obama is telling the truth for the first time in his political life when he says that his health care plan won't impose rationing. Granted, it may seem that given the fact that he wants to cut $500 billion from Medicare just as millions of baby boomers are about to enter the program, you'd have to adopt the view that Obama is able to perform something along the lines of the miracle of the loaves and fishes to make that an honest statement, but that's not true. Enter the IMAC. They will be the ones telling Grandma that she is in for the Michael Jackson "you're better off with the painkiller than the surgery" protocol, not the Dear Leader. So, he won't be imposing rationing. If only Stalin knew....

The Supreme Court can invent new rights out of thin air by seeing imaginary penumbras emitting magical emanations, and, in the short term, there's not a thing the American public can do about it. At best, once imposed, there might be some hope that these cases can be overruled, either by legislation or by a subsequent Supreme Court decision. Not so with decisions about Medicare funding. If President Obama gets his way, and an unaccountable bunch of presidential appointees decides that your life isn't worth living, the only reversal you may see is the change in your status from living to dead.

Teri O'Brien is an author, speaker and host of The Teri O'Brien Show, Sundays 2-3:30 pm Central time, and on demand from iTunes.
President Obama has a problem, one familiar to smarmy salesmen since the beginning of time. His product stinks, and consumers know it.  The packaging looked nice at first. The copy was well-written and well-delivered, but the dogs won't eat the food. What to do?

The genius of the Obama campaign was inspiring millions of Oprah worshippers, teenyboppers, and similar pop culture aficionados whose only previous experience with voting involved texting a 5 digit number on Tuesday night to choose the next "American Idol," to discover those other elections, the ones with actual consequences. As it turns out, while this strategy was great for Barack Obama and his presidential prospects, it was a disaster for this country. Whether you loved David Cook for his impish good looks and his inspiring story about his brother, or rooted for Adam Lambert because of his slightly brooding, semi-sinister persona, neither of them could destroy our health care system, embolden our enemies, weaken our national security or otherwise "remake" America.

In that charming style he no doubt perfected while learning his craft in that stinking slough of corruption, the Chicago political machine, Barack Obama responds to any suggestion that he might want to proceed with caution before jettisoning virtually everything that makes America great, with a simple answer: I won. Get lost. Your role is to submit and pay, serf. Clearly, even if many of his voters didn't realize it, Barack knows that elections have consequences. Now that the people have voted for they supposedly want, to paraphrase H.L. Mencken, he's looking to see that we get it good and hard.

One important consequence of the presidential election is that as The One (or is it the Won?), has the prerogative to appoint Supreme Court justices, life-tenured and unaccountable: in other words, the perfect agents of change for a lifelong Marxist hell-bent of turning this country into a socialist utopia. The Left understands that it is impossible to impose its agenda on people through popular elections. The reason is easy for normal Americans to understand, although it may beyond the ability of some of the myopic members of the panting, slobbering pack of Obama acolytes who laughingly refer to themselves as "journalists" to appreciate. I'll speak slowly so that even Keith Olbermann can understand.

Things we normal Americans believe in: God, American exceptionalism and self-reliance. Things we don't believe in: the all-powerful State, surrendering to our enemies, and handouts of our hard-earned and shortly thereafter confiscated money from the political class to its cronies and mascot groups, otherwise known as the Left's agenda. It's a non-starter at the ballot box, so they've had to come up with some other strategies, such as enactments by an activist Supreme Court. That method is effective, as far as it goes, but it may not be sufficient to implement all the sweeping changes envisioned by the Radical Leftist in Chief.

Like me, some of you may fondly recall a town meeting back in 1989, when the corrupt, toadish future felon and then Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Dan Rostenkowski (D-Mail Fraud)  was literally chased out of a Chicago hall by an enraged mob of his elderly constituents, whose hair colors ranged from blue to white to none. He barely escaped into his waiting getaway car ahead of the rapidly -- "rapid" being a relative term -- advancing horde of seniors, menacing him with their walkers, canes and AARP cards sharpened into makeshift shivs. OK, I made that last part up, but the congressman's hasty and desperate retreat is true. Honestly, from the way they beat it out of there, you'd have thought that he and his aide had knocked over a liquor store. Later we learned that Danny "the Stamp" Rostenkowski preferred to steal from taxpayers in the comfort and privacy of his own Congressional office.

I suspect that some readers are wondering what this little trip down memory lane has to do with Barack Obama's plans to impose his Marxist vision on America. I have a point. As Ross Perot would say, stay with me. The answer is everything, and here's why. The lesson of the Rostenkowski incident was not lost of politicians, particularly hacks in Chicago like Rahm Emanuel. Democrats well understand that Medicare and Social Security will remain the notorious "third rail" of American politics as long as Congress is in charge of setting Medicare reimbursement rates, as it is now. They were the ones who relentless demagogued this issue in 1994 and 1995. Just ask Newt Gingrich. There's the rub. How can Barack and his merry band of elite experts do what they know is good for us, even if we don't, if they have to answer to rabble of annoying ordinary citizens?

Their solution is to convert the current Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPac), an agency that makes recommendations on Medicare spending to Congress, into a new and improved Independent Medicare Advisory Council (IMAC), "improved" in that it will be completely under the control of the executive branch, its members appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, just like the Supreme Court. From the New York Times:

Under the White House plan, the new agency would also propose broader "reforms to the Medicare program." Mr. Obama even suggested, in a recent speech to the 50-and-over advocacy group AARP, that the new agency could compare the effectiveness of treatments for particular conditions. The agency, he said, could "provide recommendations about what treatments work best and what gives you the best value for your health care dollar."


So far, Mr. Obama's proposal has been welcomed by health economists and fiscal hawks eager to reduce the federal budget deficit and slow the growth of Medicare. But the proposal has received a cool reception in Congress. ...

One goal is to save money in an apolitical, technocratic way. But lawmakers are concerned that Mr. Obama's proposal would turn what is now an independent Congressional agency into an executive branch body, with members appointed by the president. And if the panel tried to translate judgments about the effectiveness of various medical treatments into Medicare payment policy, Congress's ability to tamp down any political outcry might be limited.

Let's be charitable and assume that Barack Obama is telling the truth for the first time in his political life when he says that his health care plan won't impose rationing. Granted, it may seem that given the fact that he wants to cut $500 billion from Medicare just as millions of baby boomers are about to enter the program, you'd have to adopt the view that Obama is able to perform something along the lines of the miracle of the loaves and fishes to make that an honest statement, but that's not true. Enter the IMAC. They will be the ones telling Grandma that she is in for the Michael Jackson "you're better off with the painkiller than the surgery" protocol, not the Dear Leader. So, he won't be imposing rationing. If only Stalin knew....

The Supreme Court can invent new rights out of thin air by seeing imaginary penumbras emitting magical emanations, and, in the short term, there's not a thing the American public can do about it. At best, once imposed, there might be some hope that these cases can be overruled, either by legislation or by a subsequent Supreme Court decision. Not so with decisions about Medicare funding. If President Obama gets his way, and an unaccountable bunch of presidential appointees decides that your life isn't worth living, the only reversal you may see is the change in your status from living to dead.

Teri O'Brien is an author, speaker and host of The Teri O'Brien Show, Sundays 2-3:30 pm Central time, and on demand from iTunes.