Still No Concrete Plan on Health Care From White House

President Obama yesterday met with a group of health care lobbyists at the White House then emerged from the meeting trying to sell America on the notion that these industry lobbyists are committed to reducing their company revenues by $2 trillion. Where will these proposed “savings” come from?  

This could be the first move toward rationed health care. Obama’s Institute of Comparative Effectiveness, the new federal government bureaucracy authorized by the stimulus bill, is set up to decide who gets which kind of care. You read that right: Not you, not your doctor: a panel of people who are smarter than you both will decide. Mirroring the European model, the Democrats’ new government bureaucracy is gearing up to set the rules by which they will decide if you are eligible for a medical procedure that could save your life based on your age and the cost effectiveness to taxpayers under Obama’s proposed nationalized health care scheme.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Finance, had some doubts about today’s announcement.  “There’s no doubt saving $2 trillion in health care costs would be a move in the right direction,” Grassley said.  “When the White House and the industry put concrete proposals on paper and get a score from the Congressional Budget Office, then we’ll know if the suggestions really achieve that kind of savings, and it’ll be big news.  For health care budgeting purposes, CBO’s word is the only one that counts.”

House Republican leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) pointed out that amid the fanfare of the Obama announcement today, there was no concrete plan.

“Republicans want to work with Democrats to ensure every American has access to affordable, high quality health coverage,” Boehner said.  “We support some of the voluntary reforms announced today, including increasing the use of modern information technologies to lower health care costs, and we hope they move forward.  But today’s announcement promises savings with no concrete plan to achieve them and no enforcement mechanism if they don’t. The administration has yet to answer the fundamental question of how to pay for its massive multi-trillion health care plan. Will the administration raise taxes on families and small businesses?  Will it ration care so that families and seniors face long waits for medical treatment?  Will it borrow even more money and pass the debt on to our kids and grandkids?

“Our House Republican solutions group is working on our vision of health care reform to make quality health care coverage affordable and accessible for every American, and we hope the ideas this group produces will be considered by the President as this debate goes forward,” Boehner concluded.

The House Budget Committee ranking Republican Paul Ryan of Wisconsin asked for details on how this would square with Democrat plans to nationalize health care.

“Obviously, pledges to restrain the growth of out-of-control health care costs should be applauded, but I’d like to see the details on how the industry and the administration plan to get there,” Ryan said. “The administration and leading Congressional Democrats have also pledged to effectively nationalize 17% of our economy, sending us in the exact wrong direction on health care reform, as cost-control efforts would require rationing and the restriction of patients’ choices.”

Regardless, the Obama health care dog and pony show yesterday was all hype and no substance.

McHenry Demands Census Bureau Cut Ties with ACORN

Republican members of the House Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census and National Archives yesterday sent a letter to Thomas Mesenbourg, the acting director of the U.S. Census Bureau, asking that the Decennial Census effort sever all ties with the controversial Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN.  Led by Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), the ranking Republican on the subcommittee, the letter points out that the organization slated to assist in gathering census information is under federal investigation and new state indictment in Nevada.

From the letter:

“On May 4, 2009, Nevada’s Attorney General filed criminal charges against the political advocacy group Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) for its role in voter registration fraud during the 2008 presidential campaign.  While there have been countless indictments brought against ACORN employees, this is the first charge filed against the organization itself.

“In light of this serious charge, we write to request that the Census Bureau reconsider its inclusion of ACORN in the Planning Partnership Program for the 2010 Census.  ACORN’s involvement may compromise our shared commitment to an apolitical and accurate census count.”

The letter also asked for the Census Bureau to issue a written explanation as to why ACORN’s involvement “is so essential that the credibility of the 2010 Census should be jeopardized.”

Rep. McHenry told HUMAN EVENTS yesterday, “As a Census Partner, ACORN is helping to recruit census takers. This is an organization that has shown a pattern of using government forms to commit fraud. So the proposition of putting millions of census forms in its hands seems misguided to say the least. I am confident that the bureau will protect the integrity of the census by ending its relationship with ACORN.

“The integrity and accuracy of the census must be protected because its results guide the distribution of billions in public funds and affect the balance of power in federal, state, and local government,” McHenry concluded.

Senate Republican Leader Continues Asking Questions About Gitmo

In a speech on the Senate floor yesterday, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) kept up the pressure on the Obama administration over their plans to release Gitmo terrorists into the United States.

“For weeks, Republicans in Congress have been saying what Democrats are finally beginning to acknowledge: that the administration has no plan for closing Guantanamo, and that closing this secure facility without a safe alternative is irresponsible, dangerous, and unacceptable,” McConnell said.

“The administration says our country would be safer if Guantanamo is closed and its inmates are transferred overseas or onto U.S. soil. If people knew who was down there, they might disagree.

“One of the men who’s locked away safely at Guantanamo is Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, the man who actually organized the 9/11 attacks. We captured him while he was planning follow-up attacks to 9/11, including a plot to destroy a West Coast skyscraper. If we hadn’t captured Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, he may very well have succeeded in carrying out the same kind of attack on the West Coast that he carried out on the East Coast.

“This is a man who boasts about using his, quote, ‘blessed right hand’ to decapitate the American journalist Daniel Pearl. And he’s unrepentant: earlier this year, Khalid Sheikh Muhammad joined a number of other detainees at Guantanamo in declaring themselves, quote, ‘terrorists to the bone,’ and proclaiming September 11, 2001, as a, quote, ‘blessed’ day.

“Another inmate who still declares himself a ‘terrorist to the bone’ is Ali Abd al-Azeez Ali, who served as a key lieutenant for KSM on several plots against the United States and the United Kingdom, including the 9/11 attacks. During what he describes as the, quote, ‘Blessed 11 September operation,’ Ali transferred money to U.S.-based operatives and served as a sort of travel agent for some of the hijackers. This man is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans.

“Another terrorist at Guantanamo who is responsible for the death of Americans is Abd Al-Rahim Al Nashiri, who masterminded the attack on the USS Cole, which killed 17 U.S. sailors in 2000. When he was arrested, Nashiri was planning new terrorist attacks, including a plot to crash an airplane into a Western naval vessel and a plan targeting a U.S. housing compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

“These are just three of the men locked up safely and securely on an island miles from the U.S., in a facility that even the administration acknowledges to be humane and well-run. Americans want these men kept out of their neighborhoods and off of the battlefield. Guantanamo guarantees it.

“Closing this facility by an arbitrary deadline without any alternative is irresponsible and dangerous. It is unacceptable to the American people and it is unacceptable to an increasing number of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

“The Attorney General has said that when it comes to Guantanamo, his chief concern is the safety of the American people. Yet, at the moment, the safest option is clearly the one we’re exercising. If safety is our top concern, then the administration will rethink its arbitrary deadline for closing Guantanamo until it presents us with an equally safe alternative.”