Obama's Political Appointments Continue to Make Controversial Waves

Posted: Jul 06, 2010 8:50 PM
Two of President Obama's controversial political appointees are under close scrutiny tonight: Craig Becker, nominee for the National Labor Relations Board (NRLB), and Donald Berwick, nominee for Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Becker, as we've noted before, is Big Labor's favorite lawyer and after failing to garner support for his nomination in the Senate, President Obama positioned him on the NRLB in a recess appointment.  On the job now for barely three months, Becker is already under investigation.  The Washington Examiner explains:
Becker is so pro-union he previously opined that "employers should have no right to be heard" in cases before the NLRB.

Aside from impartiality, the other concern about Becker was that the former associate general counsel for the radical Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and AFL-CIO lawyer would be embroiled with conflicts of interest regarding unions he's now charged with overseeing.

Sure enough, on June 2, Becker joined in on an NLRB decision involving SEIU Local 1957 and denied St. Barnabas Hospital's request to review a union election. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Ranking Member Darrell Issa, R-Calif., asked the Inspector General to examiner Becker's conflict of interest in the matter. An investigation is underway.

After being appointed to the NLRB, Becker signed an ethics pledge that reads in part:

"I will not for a period of two years from the date of my appointment participate in any matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to my former employer or former clients, including regulations and contracts."

Whoopsie!  How quickly these guys forget about those pesky little things called ethics...

And in other news, the president plans to make another recess appointment, naming Berwick to the CMS this week while the Senate is out.  Berwick is another controversial nominee who Republicans have attacked as an "expert in rationing" health care.  ABC's Jake Tapper writes:

In an interview last year with Biotechnology Healthcare, Berwick said society makes decisions about rationing all the time, and that the "decision is not whether or not we will ration care -- the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open. And right now, we are doing it blindly."

He has also praised the UK's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), which he said had "developed very good and very disciplined, scientifically grounded, policy-connected models for the evaluation of medical treatments from which we ought to learn."

Said Berwick, "You can say, 'Well, we shouldn’t even look.' But that would be irrational. The social budget is limited -- we have a limited resource pool..."

It's no wonder Obama is again avoiding a debate in the Senate over his latest nominee--the last thing Democrats need right now is more attention drawn to their disastrous health care plan and the fact that the GOP's concerns about rationing were completely legit.