I barely know where to start, but this is the epitome of the Evil Party…
Much more of this stuff and I’m reasonably sure there will be torches and pitchforks pretty soon.
Curses to Byron York for raising my acid level and blood pressure this morning.
There’s really three issues that I’d like to pour acid on in this post.
- The utter hypocrisy of “non-profits” at a time when TheOne is doing everything he can to undermine business.
- The utter hypocrisy of our elected and appointed officials in passing laws that subject you and me to Hell, all the while exempting themselves.
- The utter hypocrisy of the Obama Administration, promising “transparency” and appointing a high level manager whose confirmation hearings would ignite a firestorm.
H1: Non-profits. Let’s remember that TheOne, MrsOne and most of the highest level appointees in his administration have NEVER held a real job. They’ve either had suck-up government jobs or worked for non-profit organizations. Non-profits are presented to us as the way to control cost because there’s no “profit”, and the employees are idealistic and not capitalist pigs. Case in point would be the “health care crisis” that has apparently been brought on us by greedy doctors and greedy insurance companies. Democrats in general and TheOne in particular have made their careers trashing the free market and pointing out the excesses of business owners and executives because they make more money than entry level employees and sometimes they structure their benefits better than the grunts. So, this brings us to Donald Berwick, the new recess appointed head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). It’s an agency that has a bigger budget than the Pentagon and controls medical care in the US.
Before his current job, Berwick ran a non-profit organization that was involved in health care issues. The organization, Institute for Health Care Improvement (IHI), a 501c3, reported revenue of $12.1MM in grants and $27.4MM from various programs. That’s $39.5MM in gross revenue. A decent size for a family business, chump change for a for-profit company. Berwick had a sweet deal according to the KPMG 2009 audit.
During fiscal year 2003, the Institute created a postretirement health benefit plan for its Chief Executive Officer (CEO). It provides the CEO and his spouse medical insurance from retirement until death. The present value of the estimated cost of this benefit is approximately $120,000, which is being accrued over the CEO’s estimated remaining service period. The amount expensed by the Institute for the years ended 2009 and 2008 related to this liability was approximately $12,000 and $17,000, respectively. At 2009 and 2008, approximately $84,000 and $72,000, respectively, was included in accounts payable and accrued expenses.
Mr. York goes on to note that in addition to a lifetime medical insurance plan – NOT ObamaCare, this puppy is a gilded lily if ever there was one – he had a pretty good deal with salary too. I mean you wouldn’t want the CEO of a health care non-profit on food stamps would you?
Berwick was the CEO in question; under the provision, he and his wife will be covered for the rest of their lives — a benefit that was on top of the $2.3 million in compensation the nonprofit gave Berwick in 2008, the $637,006 in compensation he received in 2007, and the $585,008 he received in 2006.
OK, $2.3MM salary plus a lifetime health care coverage plan for a firm with a revenue of $39.5MM. Oh, they’ve got 110 other employees. I wonder what their compensation plans look like and what their health care plan is. Not that we’re likely to find out any time soon since Berwick was recess appointed and won’t be asked those kinds of embarrassing questions. If this was a for-profit insurance company Barney Frank would be in high dudgeon whining about what a thief Berwick is. Well, since it’s a non-profit, you’re left with me in high dudgeon. Sorry about that.
H2: Congress exempting themselves. An important element of the ’94 Revolution was the fact that Congress passed laws and regularly exempted themselves from them. I pointed out here how Congress has exempted themselves and their staffs from the SEC’s Insider Trading provisions which make the rules that the Cardinals ran the Spanish Inquisition by look tame. The have probably, even though – SHOCK! – the administration denies it, exempted themselves from the terms of ObamaCare.
The health care reform bill signed into law by President Barack Obama Tuesday requires members of Congress and their office staffs to buy insurance through the state-run exchanges it creates – but it may exempt staffers who work for congressional committees or for party leaders in the House and Senate.
Staffers and members on both sides of the aisle call it an “inequity” and an “outrage” – a loophole that exempts the staffers most involved in writing and passing the bill from one of its key requirements.
Well, while there may be some quibbling over that provision, and I’m sure they’ll “fix” it – wink wink nod nod – there is no question about the deal that Berwick got from his “non-profit” employer. He and his wife won’t be getting on any lists for delayed care and they won’t be casting their fate before a Death Panel. They’ll be making up the lists and running the Death Panels, but the insurance deal they got will protect them. Until they die a natural death, as opposed to the rest of us who will likely be dying at the whim of the federal government agency in charge of longevity.
H3: Transparency. Let me be clear about this. I don’t think transparency on the part of management is necessarily ever a good thing. OTOH, TheBoyPresident™ made a big deal out of it when he ran for office. He made a big deal out of closing GITMO, leaving Afghanistan, being able to keep your health insurance if you like it, not taxing people making under $250,000 a year and a bunch of other stuff too. So, the guy is a patent liar. I can live with that. What I don’t want to have to live with is him making recess appointments because it would be inconvenient and embarrassing for his nominees to have to be asked questions by Senators. All Presidents use recess appointments. GWB recess appointed John Bolton because he couldn’t get a vote on the floor of the Senate after he’d sat through questioning by Senators at his confirmation hearings. I don’t think we’ve had a recess appointment from either party who didn’t have hearings. Except Berwick. And gee, why might that be?
Sen. Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, has been asking questions about the Institute’s [that would be IHI, Berwick’s former employer, Ed.]finances. Specifically, Grassley wanted to know more about the millions of dollars in grants and contributions to the organization: where did that money come from? Given the zillions of dollars that changed hands during the debate over Obamacare, it was a reasonable question.
But it was a question the White House did not want to answer. Not long after Grassley inquired about the Institute’s donors, the White House decided to bypass Senate confirmation for Berwick. The president’s recess appointment means that Berwick will not have to answer Grassley’s, or anyone else’s, questions.
Now comes word that Berwick enjoys his nonprofit’s generosity in the form of health care coverage for life. That undoubtedly would also have been a topic of questioning had Berwick gone through the normal course of Senate confirmation. But the recess appointment avoided all that.
Thank you Mr. York for that tidbit.
Now then, where are the outraged Republican Senators? Where was the outrage on the Sunday shows? Why isn’t Mitch McConnell raising all sorts of Hell about this? Why hasn’t the Republican Leadership in the House threatened to withhold funding for at least Berwick’s salary (not that he needs it) or maybe the whole agency? I hate rhetorical questions.
All I can say, in conclusion, is that I don’t feel any better. I hope you don’t either. I hope you will call your Senators and your CongressCritter™ and demand that they do something. Maybe if they get enough calls… And don’t forget, there IS an election on the horizon.
UPDATE: Thanks to my friend Mark S for pointing out that I can’t spell. Especially in an un-caffeinated state. I really am embarrassed.