The Spectacle Blog

Another Word on Berwick

By on 7.9.10 | 2:11PM

I've already weighed in on President Obama's decision to recess appoint the self-professed lover of Britain's socialized health care system, Donald Berwick, to run the two programs that account for one out of every three health care dollars spent in the United States. 

I'd just add a few points. As an exercise in raw political power, one can see the rationale behind Obama's decision. He's getting criticized by conservative pundits and a liberal good government type like Ruth Marcus, but ultimately, coming in the dead of summer just after the July 4th holiday weekend, most Americans outside Washington probably aren't following this too closely. If Berwick did go through the standard nomination process --  even had he been confirmed -- it would have put health care back in the news, and the administration would have to defend Berwick statements, such as: "Cynics beware, I am romantic about the (British) National Health Service; I love it." Republicans were chomping at the bit for hearings because unlike with Elena Kagan, Berwick has a long paper trail.

Liberals have been buoyed in recent weeks by some polls showing that support for the health care legislation is creeping up slightly. But it's been the pattern for a long time that whenever ObamaCare is out of the news, people view it more favorably because they support the abstract concept of health care reform. But whenever there's been a public debate about the specific Democratic vision for health care, support has erroded and opposition has tanked. So ultimately, what this shows us is that the Obama administration is afraid to debate health care, because they know it's a debate they'll lose with the American people.

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