November 23, 2010

Imagine a Military Board With the Power of the Very Real ObamaCare Medicare Board

NoObamaCare0809

Imagine the (justifiable) media and other outcry that would result if a previous presidential administration and congressional leadership had convinced gullible House and Senate members to pass a law which they weren’t given time to read specifying the following about a new Military Spending Board.

First, the Board appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate) sets a predetermined (by the Board) target for military spending growth. If the Board determines that the growth of military spending will not match this predetermined target, it has the power to enact a remedy through “fast track” legislation, which will work like this:

  • By January 15 each year, the Board must submit a proposal to Congress and the president for reaching military spending targets in the coming year. The majority leaders in the House and Senate must introduce bills incorporating the board’s proposal the day they receive it.
  • Congress cannot “consider any bill, resolution, amendment, or conference report  …  that would repeal or otherwise change the recommendations of the Board” if such changes fail to meet the board’s budgetary target.
  • By April 1, the committees of jurisdiction must complete their consideration of the proposal. Any committee that fails to meet the deadline is barred from further considering the bill.
  • The defense secretary must implement the Board’s proposal, as passed by Congress and signed by the president, on August 15 of the year in which the proposal is submitted.
  • If Congress does not pass the proposal or a substitute plan meeting the Board’s financial target before August  15, or if the president vetoes the proposal passed by Congress, the original Board recommendations automatically take effect.

Additionally, Congress cannot consider any bill or amendment that would repeal or change this fast-track congressional consideration process without a three-fifths vote (60) in the Senate. Not only that, but the implementation of the Board’s budget is exempted from administrative or judicial review.

To be clear, based on the second bulleted item above, what the Board says about the military spending would be what goes, even if Congress jumped through the hoops described above. All Congress could possibly do is reallocate funds, say, between branches of the military or among weapons programs.

As I noted at the beginning, the establishment media outcry would be fierce — and justified.

Well, as described by Wesley Smith at the Weekly Standard (“Our New ObamaCare Masters”), what I’ve described above concerning a mythical Military Spending Board is what is really in ObamaCare, and it will have a virtually iron grip over Medicare spending. Here is Smith’s description:

(If) the 15 “expert” members of the Independent Payment Advisory Board … (determine) that the growth of Medicare costs will exceed a predetermined target, it (the Board) has the power to enact a remedy through “fast track” legislation, which works like this:

• By January 15 each year, the Independent Payment Advisory Board must submit a proposal to Congress and the president for reaching Medicare savings targets in the coming year. The majority leaders in the House and Senate must introduce bills incorporating the board’s proposal the day they receive it.

• Congress cannot “consider any bill, resolution, amendment, or conference report  …  that would repeal or otherwise change the recommendations of the board” if such changes fail to meet the board’s budgetary target.

• By April 1, the committees of jurisdiction must complete their consideration of the proposal. Any committee that fails to meet the deadline is barred from further considering the bill.

• The secretary of health and human services must implement the Independent Payment Advisory Board’s proposal, as passed by Congress and signed by the president, on August 15 of the year in which the proposal is submitted.

• If Congress does not pass the proposal or a substitute plan meeting the Independent Payment Advisory Board’s financial target before August  15, or if the president vetoes the proposal passed by Congress, the original Independent Payment Advisory Board recommendations automatically take effect.

Further demonstrating the Star Chamber-like powers of the Independent Payment Advisory Board, Congress cannot consider any bill or amendment that would repeal or change this fast-track congressional consideration process without a three-fifths vote (60) in the Senate. Not only that, but the implementation of the board’s remedy is exempted from administrative or judicial review.

So … where’s the media outrage over this clearly antidemocratic creation and its related mechanisms?

Answer: The establishment press’s democratic impulses are selective. Effectively taking control over military spending away from Congress through heavy-handed means? Bad. Taking control over and judicial review of the amount of money spent by Medicare? Apparently, that’s no problem — oh, and let’s make sure we never describe how it will really work to news readers and watchers, lest they get some kind of crazy notion that it isn’t the greatest thing in the world.

One example: Here’s longtime alleged money-smart maven Jane Bryant Quinn’s description of the Independent Payment Advisory Board published on the day after the midterm elections. Quinn, in objecting to anticipated antiObamaCare efforts by the new Republican House majority, wrote:

[L]egislators have vowed to get rid of the Independent Payment Advisory Board, set up to study ways to save money on Medicare. That’s right, it’s a board created to try to slow down the increase in future federal spending. And yes, the “conservatives” are against it.

No ma’am. It’s a board that will virtually dictate spending, regardless of the consequences for quality care, up to and including rationing. Of course sensible, constitutional conservatives are against it.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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