Here Comes the Trojan Horse

The trillion dollar stimulus bill is truly a modern-day Trojan Horse. The bill passed by the House Democrats spells out, on page 151, plans for a "Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research."  The bill specifies that this "Council" will be comprised of 15 members appointed by the President from various federal agencies involved in health care, such as the FDA and the NIH.

Funding for Comparative Effectiveness Research of $1.1 Billion is listed on page 135 of the House bill.
The Senate version, on page 129, includes the same dollar amount, for the same purpose, but with the label "Healthcare Research and Quality." The "Council" described in the House bill is a cornerstone of the Daschle nationalized health care plan. While Daschle's tax delinquencies and his conflicts of interest ought to be more than enough to deep-six his nomination to HHS, his fingerprints are all over this bill.

A prescient
article by James C. Capretta in NRO last August described Daschle's thinking on this:

But Daschle's vision isn't entirely conventional. For many years, he has argued that a crucial element of reform is something like a Federal Reserve Board for Health. Unlike most Democrats, Daschle seems to understand there is a downside to government-run health care - which is, well, the government calling the shots. That's a recipe for rigid and outdated regulations from an unresponsive bureaucracy and a meddling Congress micromanaging payment rules. Of course, this is exactly what Daschle observed in the Senate as politicians took turns manipulating Medicare's complex and counter-productive web of fee schedules to meet their parochial objectives.

The answer, of course, would be to build an effective marketplace and hand decisions over to consumers. But Daschle is no free-market reformer. He believes the solution is to entrust government-run health care to people more trustworthy than HHS bureaucrats or elected members of Congress - like an unaccountable, unelected Board of wise men. In Daschle's vision, such a board would be charged with making the big and controversial decisions - like what should or should not be covered by insurance plans - without having to answer to the public. Of course, this would be a nightmare scenario for those fearful of government intrusion into the practice of medicine. Once up and running, such a Board would inevitably accrue more power and authority, becoming the choke point for all crucial decisions. And the public would have little recourse to ever undo it.

What's even scarier is Daschle's idea of how to get such a Board approved by Congress. He has long held that the Clintons made two crucial mistakes in 1993: they put health care on the back burner until October, to allow time for passage of the tax plan, and they agreed to pursue reform in the Senate under the normal rules, which require 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. Opponents took advantage of both decisions to defeat the entire effort. Should Obama win the election, Daschle is sure to urge him to strike quickly and use whatever leverage is available, including fast-track procedures, to pass as much of his health agenda as possible early in 2009. 

Well, here we are early in 2009, and the Trojan Horse with Daschle's idea buried inside is about to run the table. It is truly frightening to envision that kind of life and death power concentrated in the hands of Washington bureaucrats, the same people who could not manage the transition to digital television. Additional pieces of government paid health care are creeping in elsewhere in the stimulus bill and in the updated Schip bill now working it's way through congress. Once the pieces are in place, if you or your loved ones and your doctor are suddenly faced with 15 minutes to decide whether you need a heart stent or an emergency bypass to save your life, or do nothing, good luck. The decision may be based on edicts from the board in Washington.

Pelosi, Obama and company are perpetrating a fraud by using this bill as a Trojan Horse to begin installing the foundation of their nationalized health care agenda. They are willing to toss overboard a few things that have jumped out, such as the $335 Million for contraceptive programs, but not this one. Have they explicitly told the public that this is in there, and what it's ramifications are? No, they have not. On the contrary, it has been carefully concealed behind the bluster that we must act and act now. An item with the ramifications this has should be extensively discussed in the full light of day. It is a travesty that it has been inserted in the middle of a bill that is bigger than the Manhattan phone book, under cover of "hurry up and pass the bill." The sponsors and writers of this bill have shown a profound lack of respect for the American taxpayer and for our children and our children's children.

The fate of this bill and of the Democrats first try at Daschle's Comparative Effectiveness Council will most likely be decided in the next week or two in the Senate.
In a speech at the Heritage Foundation on Thursday, Republican Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina said:
This massive spending bill is fatally flawed. It will not rescue our economy; it will strangle it. That is why this bill must be stopped dead in its tracks. It cannot be fixed in the Senate by adding a few tax cuts or taking away a little spending. It must be scrapped entirely.

Senator DeMint goes on in his speech to detail what he terms "The American Option," a plan for growth-oriented tax cuts that will "give Americans and small businesses the freedom to spend and invest their own money."  That plan will be presented in the Senate on Monday.  If the Republican efforts are ignored and the current Senate Democrat version of the bill does pass, it will most likely be owned by the Democrats, but we the taxpayers will get the Trojan Horse and all it's contents.