Sylvia Burwell is President Obama’s pick to replace Kathleen Sebelius atop the Department of Health and Human Services, despite her having no experience in the healthcare industry. This administration’s motto seems to be “no experience required.” Burwell’s main claims to fame up to now aren’t terribly impressive. She ran the Gates Foundation, which never had any money troubles, and she ran the Walmart Foundation, which also never had any money troubles. Foundations tend to be easier to run when they’re flush with cash and can do whatever they want.
She has also headed the Office of Management and Budget, at a time when the US government is spending money at insane rates. OMB doesn’t just work on budgets, though, according to Marc Thiessen.
When speechwriters finish a draft presidential address, it is circulated to the White House senior staff and top cabinet officials in what is known as the “staffing process.” As part of that process, nonpartisan career policy experts at OMB review the speech and are responsible for attesting to the factual accuracy of everything the president says.
So thanks to Burwell’s nomination, Americans may finally get to the bottom of how the biggest presidential lie in recent memory made it though OMB’s fact-checking process — not once but dozens of times.
The first time the lie surfaced — when Obama told the American Medical Association on June 15, 2009, “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health-care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health-care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what” — it wasn’t on Burwell’s watch.
But Burwell was OMB director when Obama declared on Sept. 26, 2013: “Now, let’s start with the fact that even before the Affordable Care Act fully takes effect, about 85 percent of Americans already have health insurance — either through their job, or through Medicare, or through the individual market. So if you’re one of these folks, it’s reasonable that you might worry whether health-care reform is going to create changes that are a problem for you — especially when you’re bombarded with all sorts of fear-mongering. So the first thing you need to know is this: If you already have health care, you don’t have to do anything.”
Burwell should explain to Congress and the American people how her office allowed blatant falsehoods to get into presidential speeches, including whether political aides overruled career policy advisers who warned that the president’s claims were untrue.
Too bad OMB wasn’t involved in briefing Susan Rice…
Burwell will still get confirmed, only this time there will be harder questions and maybe a handful of votes against her.