If you aren't a Wall Street Journal subscriber, you should be so you can read Daniel Henniger's column on today's edition. Trust me, this column alone is worth the price of a subscription because it highlights two things - just how truly radical is President Obama's recess appointment of Dr. Donald Berwick and what the GOP must do in response if voters return them to the House majority in November.
First, Berwick truly is the disciple of centralized planning. Read these quotes from the guy, which Henninger included in his column today, and the conclusion is inescapable - Berwick loves centralized planning and believes leaders know more about societal good than anybody else:
"I cannot believe that the individual health care consumer can enforce through choice the proper configurations of a system as massive and complex as health care. That is for leaders to do."
"Please don't put your faith in market forces. It's a popular idea: that Adam Smith's invisible hand would do a better job of designing care than leaders with plans can."
"The unaided human mind, and the acts of the individual, cannot assure excellence. Health care is a system, and its performance is a systemic property."
Henninger includes more such quotes but these three focus on the crucial element in Berwick's philosophy - Health care must be planned by enlightened leaders with sufficient power to enforce their decisions regardless of what anybody else thinks. This is the essence of dictatorial statism and it is absolutely alien to anything remotely resembling government by consent of the governed.
That Obama installed Berwick in the single most powerful job in the federal government for shaping health care policy in America without allowing Congress time to hold even a perfunctory hearing to publicly question Berwick about his views is, in Henninger's precise phrase, "unacceptable."
That brings us to the basic question regarding the November election. It's not whether voters will restore the GOP to majority power in either or both chambers of Congress. The question is, if they do, will those GOPers thus chosen possess the political wisdom and will to force the issue presented by Obama's Berwick play?
It was done according to the letter of the Constitution, but Obama clearly violated the spirit of the Constitution in using the recess process as a kind of Appointment Nuclear Option to impose an appointee whose views are directly counter to the fundament principle of American government that leaders must be answerable to the people.
The only salutary response available to a congressional majority intent on upholding separation of powers among three equal and coordinate branches is to exercise the most basic power given to the House by the Constitution - the power of the purse, to decide how federal money will be spent through appropriations. Presidents can appoint but the House has no obligation whatsoever to fund positions held by individuals whose views are clearly noxious to the maintenance of the constitutional morality that insures republican stability.
Henninger misses it on one critical point, though, when he observes that "within Mr. Obama's circle, they all think like this. Defeat Dr. Berwick, and they will send up 50 more who would pursue the same goals."
No, precisely because they all think like Berwick, we can be certain that there will be 50 more Berwicks from Obama no matter what if the president is not forced to reverse himself on this decision. That won't happen unless a GOP-led House makes it crystal clear that every time Obama appoints another Berwick, funds will be withdrawn for that position.
You cannot persuade an opponent who has nuked you once from doing it again and again without responding with such force that the costs he must bear are unacceptable to him.