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Dr. Berwick's Test Results are Positive: Palin is a Whack Job

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To hear Sarah Palin and other members of the extreme right tell it, the Socialist Party is a huge political institution on the rise and a necessary stepping-stone for getting into liberal electoral politics, along with being born in Hawaii and other places outside the United States. They practically claim that everyone in the Obama Administration is a socialist. This rap is classic - another one of their big lies and scare tactics. And apparently they don't like people who have traveled abroad either.

Now they're going after Donald Berwick, the Harvard Medical School professor who President Obama appointed to run the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Sure, Berwick may have traveled to London once (or even twice), but for eight years we had a President who had barely set foot outside of the U.S. before he was elected and then he dragged us into two endless wars that continue to suck the life out of our economy and exponentially increase our deficit.

Which leads me to Dr. Berwick. He's eminently qualified. Everyone who's not trying to score partisan, political points says so. Mark McClellan, who had the job under the last President Bush, said:

"What happens at CMS in the next few years will determine whether the new legislation actually improves quality and lowers costs. Don [Berwick] has a unique background in both improving care on the ground and thinking about how our nation's health care policies need to be reformed to help make that happen."

But none of this matters to the Republican leadership in Congress. Berwick's merits are irrelevant to them. They just blather on and on without regard for the truth. And the truth is that we need this recess appointment because we need to fill this position and move this health reform implementation along. Consider a few facts:
  • CMS has been with out a permanent head since 2006.
  • George W. Bush made 171 recess appointments.
  • President Obama has now made a total of 18 recess appointments.
  • There are currently 180 nominees still pending before the Senate.

One might assume that Senate Republican Leaders might care about these issues. But they don't. They no longer seem to care about anything but crass partisan politics. And they're happy to hold up the process no matter what the consequences. They don't care if people lose their health care benefits. Or if their unemployment benefits run out. Or if state governments have to cut services and lay people off. People don't matter to them. And neither does the truth.

Which is why Sarah Palin really is a whack job. Her "tweet" this Tuesday on the topic says it all:

@sarahpalinusa: Press Corps-pls do your job as Obama sneaks in Berwick appt;pls cover his mission:socialized healthcare&rationing based on"quality of life.

And the Republican leaders in the Senate are no longer holding themselves to a higher standard than people like Palin who are free to "go rogue". They feel no obligation to govern and use the Senate for the good of the American people. They have become nothing but populist demagogues, political parasites of the worst kind (though I don't mean to leave out Representatives Boehner or Cantor, but fortunately their grotesque political games can't hijack the entire Congressional agenda the way their Senate counterparts can).

So kudos to the White House for doing the right thing and addressing the needs of our country, our economy and the more than 100 million Americans who depend on the life-saving and life-enhancing care provided by Medicaid and Medicare.

Cross posted at the NOW!blog