Sylvia Burwell has got a lot of explaining to do
Barack Obama’s nominee to replace Kathleen Sebelius as HHS secretary already is implicated in Politifact’s “political lie of the year.” Marc Thiessen, the former Bush speechwriter who now writes a column for the Washington Post explains:
The agency Burwell heads, the Office of Management and Budget, is responsible for the president’s budget. But OMB also has another, lesser-known responsibility: fact-checking presidential speeches. Every proposed presidential utterance is scrubbed for accuracy by OMB.
When speechwriters finish a draft presidential address, it is circulated to the White House senior staff and top cabinet officials in what is known as the “staffing process.” As part of that process, nonpartisan career policy experts at OMB review the speech and are responsible for attesting to the factual accuracy of everything the president says.
So thanks to Burwell’s nomination, Americans may finally get to the bottom of how the biggest presidential lie in recent memory made it though OMB’s fact-checking process — not once but dozens of times.
To be fair, Thiessen also notes:
The first time the lie surfaced — when Obama told the American Medical Association on June 15, 2009, “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health-care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health-care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what” — it wasn’t on Burwell’s watch.
But Burwell was OMB director when Obama declared on Sept. 26, 2013: “Now, let’s start with the fact that even before the Affordable Care Act fully takes effect, about 85 percent of Americans already have health insurance — either through their job, or through Medicare, or through the individual market. So if you’re one of these folks, it’s reasonable that you might worry whether health-care reform is going to create changes that are a problem for you — especially when you’re bombarded with all sorts of fear-mongering. So the first thing you need to know is this: If you already have health care, you don’t have to do anything.”
So Burwell’s office allowed blatant lies to go out to the American people over and over again. And her failure to do her job now places a burden on the Democrats who will question her in committee hearings on her confirmation:
Burwell should not be confirmed until she explains how OMB allowed the president of the United States to lie — repeatedly — to the American people. If Democrats don’t demand answers, they can be sure that Republicans will. Since avoiding the subject is not an option, her hearings will be a fascinating insight into the Democrats’ 2014 strategy on Obamacare.
Hat tip: Ed Lasky