Obama is returning to his liberal agenda

January 1, 2011


— Most people don’t remember Obamacare’s notorious Section 1233, mandating government payments for end-of-life counseling. It aroused so much anxiety as a possible first slippery step on the road to state-mandated late-life rationing that the Senate never included it in the final health care law.

Well, it’s back — by administrative fiat. A month ago, Medicare issued a regulation providing for end-of-life counseling during annual “wellness” visits. It was all nicely buried amid the simultaneous release of hundreds of new Medicare rules.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., author of Section 1233, was delighted. “Mr. Blumenauer’s office celebrated ‘a quiet victory,’ but urged supporters not to crow about it,” reports The New York Times. Deathly quiet. In early November, his office sent an e-mail plea to supporters: “We would ask that you not broadcast this accomplishment out to any of your lists ... e-mails can too easily be forwarded.” They had been lucky that “thus far, it seems that no press or blogs have discovered it. ... The longer this (regulation) goes unnoticed, the better our chances of keeping it.”

So much for Democratic transparency — and for their repeated claim that the more people learn what is in the health care law, the more they will like it. Turns out ignorance is the Democrats’ best hope.

And regulation is their perfect vehicle — so much quieter than legislation. Consider two other regulatory usurpations in just the last few days:

On Dec. 23, the Interior Department issued Secretarial Order 3310 reversing a 2003 decision and giving itself the authority to designate public lands as “Wild Lands.” A clever twofer: (1) a bureaucratic power grab — for seven years up through Dec. 22, wilderness designation had been the exclusive province of Congress, and (2) a leftward lurch — more land to be “protected” from such nefarious uses as domestic oil exploration in a country disastrously dependent on foreign sources.

The very same day, the president’s Environmental Protection Agency declared that in 2011 it would begin drawing up anti-carbon regulations on oil refineries and power plants, another power grab effectively enacting what Congress had firmly rejected when presented as cap-and-trade legislation.

For an Obama bureaucrat, however, the will of Congress is a mere speed bump. Hence this regulatory trifecta, each one moving smartly left — and nicely clarifying what the spirit of bipartisan compromise that President Obama heralded in his post-lame-duck Dec. 22 news conference was really about: a shift to the center for public consumption and political appearance only.

On that day, Obama finally embraced the tax-cut compromise he had initially excoriated, but only to avoid forfeiting its obvious political benefit — its appeal to independent voters who demand bipartisanship and are the key to Obama’s re-election. But make no mistake: Obama’s initial excoriation in his angry Dec. 7 news conference was the authentic Obama. He hated the deal.

Now as always, Obama’s heart lies left. For those fooled into thinking otherwise by the new Obama of Dec. 22, his administration’s defiantly liberal regulatory moves — on the environment, energy and health care — should disabuse even the most beguiled.

These regulatory power plays make political sense. Because Obama needs to appear to reclaim the center, he will stage his more ideological fights in yawn-inducing regulatory hearings rather than in the dramatic spotlight of congressional debate. How better to impose a liberal agenda on a center-right nation than regulatory stealth?

It’s Obama’s only way forward during the next two years. He will never get past the half-Republican 112th what he could not get past the overwhelmingly Democratic 111th. He doesn’t have the votes and he surely doesn’t want the publicity. Hence the quiet resurrection, as it were, of end-of-life counseling.

Obama knows he has only so many years to change the country. In his first two, he achieved much: the first stimulus, Obamacare and financial regulation. For the next two, however, the Republican House will prevent any repetition of that. Obama’s agenda will therefore have to be advanced by the more subterranean means of rule-by-regulation.

But this must simultaneously be mixed with ostentatious displays of legislative bipartisanship (e.g., the lame-duck tax-cut deal) in order to pull off the (apparent) centrist repositioning required for re-election. This, in turn, would grant Obama four more years when, freed from the need for pretense, he can reassert himself ideologically and complete the social-democratic transformation — begun Jan. 20, 2009, derailed Nov. 2, 2010 — that is the mission of his presidency.

Charles Krauthammer is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.


CorkyHundley 7 years ago

He is on a Jihad agenda sir. Look at who he paired up with Holder. The Dude is now making freinds with Syria? He frees Gitmo killers with the recidivism rate of 80 to 90%. He is allowing Iran to build nuclear bombs.......

YE OLD (Your End Of Life Discussion) is a useful tool for population control. The Democrat clan, (DRD 4 Genies) are into population control. That's why they are big on D&C's.

The Hawaiian Dude is what he is. A guy abandoned by his parents and therefore, feels fussy. Like he is big-man on campus. He could careless about the country that has made him who he is today. Either that or he is such a "Bitter Clinger" that he doesn't realize the country has made him into who he is today.

Jimo 7 years ago

Some people are just weird.

appleaday 7 years ago

The end of life discussion is a chance for your doctor to actually get reimbursed for the time he or she spends talking with you about the type and amount of life support you want when the time comes, who will be allowed to make medical decisions when you are incapacitated, whether you want to be an organ donor, etc. Doctors don't spend much time in this type of counseling in the current system because it's unreimbursed time. That's all it is. Drop your conspiracy paranoia people.

bad_dog 7 years ago

If BS walks you've got a long hike ahead of you.

Just saying...

jafs 7 years ago

Compensating doctors for the time they spend counseling people on various issues regarding end of life decisions doesn't take those decisions away from the individuals - it gives them the information necessary to make informed decisions.

repaste 7 years ago

Forced on them like facts are forced on you. Law only allows Dr. to be paid for consult. You don't ask if you don't want.

Jimo 7 years ago

What gov't influence?

Maybe you should go dragon hunting elsewhere.

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

the not republican party still have the same thinkers calling the shots no matter what. if there is a tea party or not. neocons and fundamentalists took over the repub party in order to avoid the ballot process required for 3rd parties to become valid.

what karl rove,bush family,koch brothers,fundamentalist thinkers and newt gingrich have in mind is to convince all of we taxpayers our states are going broke. then have corporate america slip in to take over government programs. this is what wall street thinkers want.

corporate america wants more of our tax dollars in their bank accounts. that is why they put out lies and misinformation about social security,medicare and our public education system

hey americans who is it that perpetrates fraud against our government, our medicare, against medical insurance consumers,our retirement plans ,our public education system and you as a taxpayer?

it is the white collar frauds representing wall street, the military industrial complex and the medical insurance industry. it is also the sen. bill frist family of hmo’s all of which are known as the white collar thieves in the usa. with the help of the reckless neocon republican party of course.

this is the group spewing lies and misinformation about government servces!!! they want those tax dollars in their bank accounts.

the problem is not medicare,social security or our public education system. the problem is the white collar frauds and liars.

the question is why are you and i buying into their lies, misinformation and propaganda

what’s missing is hard evidence to back up their propaganda. there is no hard evidence. there is no hard evidence,

what is one method we must force and employ to clean this matter up?

Lets’s demand a new system and vote in Fair Vote America : http://www.fairvote.org/irv/

We need public financing of campaigns. Citizens cannot afford special interest money campaigns for it is the citizens that get left out. Let citizens vote on this issue. http://www.publicampaign.org/

Very interesting: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/30/AR2010063005316.html?sid=ST2010122600556

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

End of life counseling is good. After all how many would wish to be stuck on life support systems in spite of the fact that one may be dying? What would be the point?

So called right to lifers might support the life support system abuse however the only winner is the hospital revenue department which is to say this expensive process increases the cost of health care and provides the not necessary medical insurance industry one more opportunity to increase rates.

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

This is one tool that would include into the Wellness end of life counseling. And why not? Think IMPROVED Medicare Insurance for ALL.

The USA can have the best health care numbers in the world IF the USA gets rid of the worst and most expensive medical insurance system in the world.

AND it could be done without increasing taxes and at the same time creates an estimated 2.6 million jobs. Health care in and of itself is the fastest growing industry in america.

This country collects trillions upon trillions of tax dollars. Instead of raising taxes the USA diverts enough of this existing source of tax dollars to cover the cost of IMPROVED Medicare Insurance for ALL.

pace 7 years ago

Liberals of course are the ones who bring the country back to it's senses after they get kicked in the butt by the corrupt money grubbers. Nothing wrong with being rich, nothing unique about dying, it is how you do it that matters. Now liberals bring the human, humane, and thinking solutions to the table. So yes, let us pray that Obama listens to the liberals that helped elect him.

monkeyhawk 7 years ago

End of life counseling = good.

Abortion counseling = bad.

(I'm pro-choice on both.) It is good that this is being forced on us again. It will just be another nail in the Ocare coffin.

gccs14r 7 years ago

I knew this would be a Krauthammer piece just from the headline. As for Obama returning to a liberal agenda, someone please let me know when he had one in the first place. Obama is about as liberal as Nixon was.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

Jeez, Chuck, the "death panel" idiocy again?

"Most people don’t remember Obamacare’s notorious Section 1233, mandating government payments for end-of-life counseling."

It mandates "payments," not the counseling. If you don't want the counseling, you won't get it. If you do, then it gets paid for under you medicare package.

BTW, in case no one ever told you, Chuck, we're all going to die, eventually. Most people would like to have a bit of counseling to help them make the right choices for themselves when that time comes. (ie, what sort of medical intervention do you want taken to extend those last few weeks or months of life, if any.)

Also, BTW, if the government ever does want to institute "death panels," our insurance industry and Big Health have already perfected those sorts of things.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

OK, you're right. It's quite likely that you'll prefer ignorance about your choices at the end of your life, just as you prefer ignorance about most everything else in this life.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

There was no question. Just a badly phrased statement that some people prefer ignorance over information. I merely assumed that meant you were one of them.

Scott Morgan 7 years ago

Merrill, Our brothers and sisters in California woke up this morning to 735 new laws. Good grief, no wonder why the state is losing so many jobs. Do you feel these new laws will help or hurt the current financial situation?


An American automobile factory near St. Louis struggles to keep the area in good paying jobs. Sadly they keep shifts running by building a comfortable, popular, 4 passenger small SUV which gets over 48 mpg. The vehicle was SUV of the year in Europe in 08. Sad because we can't buy it. Too bad we can't purchase the model so popular in Europe. California standards of course is the reason we can't purchase a Jeep Patriot with a clean diesel Mercedes designed engine.

gccs14r 7 years ago

Not offering a 49-state CRD Patriot is entirely on Chrysler. If you really want to get good diesels here, get the government to improve the wear scar rating and the cetane rating of U.S. diesel fuel. A wear scar of 520 is a joke.

Mike Ford 7 years ago

nothing like the mice listening to the piper and his repetitively pointless tunes of fear. Repeat four or five untrue themes and you all will always listen. Blind loyalty to the tunes of fear....

verity 7 years ago

Oh, I so hope Obama is returning to his liberal agenda.

Jimo 7 years ago

An Obama liberal agenda would be news to liberals.

That is unless we define liberalism as anything to the left of Attila the Hun.

tunahelper 7 years ago

maybe the SLT opponents can get omaba to make a ruling and reverse the federal court ruling! since omaba is dictator, he and the runaway epa can help you! LOL!!! I can't wait for the new Republicans to come into Congress and stop all this omaba socialism.

Scott Morgan 7 years ago

If President Obama returns, which I never believe he never left a liberal agenda it will be the absolute end of the Democratic Party.

A large majority of people do not wish or appreciate his radical change from campaigning. The arrogant and infantile attempt at a power grab backfired. Nanny Pelosi's actions will haunt him if, and a big if he runs for reelection.

President Obama is unpopular. He is going to make Jimmy Carter look good. Do you folks not get this? President Obama sure understands. Democrat politicians understand.

Obama will not be able to pass wind let alone legislation without conservative support.

wisenup21 7 years ago

first of all, no one 'wins' in the prolonged life support battle. suprisingly, to apparently most, it is not the hospitals that insist on placing persons on life support despite evidence of futility. most often it is the ill- informed families of folks who 'want everything done'. most have no clue as to what their loved ones may endure before their lives end. there is a significant denial among most americans that death is a part of life. modern medicine has made great leaps and bounds, but unfortuneately this has also created the mindset that people will live forever. most of the expense of end of life care that has not been determined with informed thought, is never recovered and is written off by the hospitals. another factor is the practice of providing medical care with the fear of litigation on the part of the care providers. while there are many legitimate lawsuits, there are entirely too many frivolous and they are what has crippled the finances of the health care system. this is what has driven up the cost of health care. the insurance companies exist to make a profit, as are hospitals. if they weren't, they wouldn't exist and neither would many advances that have been made over the years. over regulation and big government has also affected the cost. while many regulations are needed to protect the public from unscrupulous prvoviders, many have been enacted as a result of insane litigation. limiting health care is not always evil. educating people to the realities of the not always so wonderful world of medicine is not evil. knowing and accepting that death is part of life is important, and we as americans appear to have forgotten this.

booyalab 7 years ago

Anyone who is arguing for the merits of this provision has totally missed the point. The way this was enacted was underhanded. Respect for due process is the only thing we have that separates us from fascism, but this administration only cares about the end result. We're on a dangerous path.

Corey Williams 7 years ago

Like a lot of republicans are suddenly very upset about recess appointments?

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