The PJ Tatler

Jack Lew's Medicare Mess

As Treasury nominee Jack Lew prepares for hearings, he may have hit another roadblock on his road to confirmation.  Julia Borowski at FreedomWorks posted today that Mr. Lew broke a federal law that requires the Director of the Office of Management and Budget to submit a plan to reform Medicare if the program is projected to become insolvent.

Medicare will go bankrupt due to our changing demographics.  For the next two decades, 10,000 baby boomers will become eligible for Social Security and Medicare benefits in their respective states on a daily basis.  At it’s current levels, there aren’t enough young people to maintain the program’s benefits.

Borowski wrote that:

As director of the White House budget office in 2010 and 2011, Jack Lew was responsible for submitting the plan—and failed to do so. A group of Senate Republicans lead by Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) sent a letter to President Obama’s White House budget director Jeffrey Zients requesting documents on the “Medicare Trigger”, a warning from the Medicare Trustees on the financial instability of the program.

Here is a portion of the letter sent out Monday:

Both the House and Senate Budget Committees, along with the Senate Republican Conference at large, have previously corresponded with the administration regarding its continued violation of federal law with respect to the so-called Medicare Trigger.  The Senate will soon consider the nomination of Jacob Lew, who served as the Director of Office [of] Management and Budget during this period of noncompliance and who, if confirmed as Secretary of the Treasury, will also hold the position of Chairman of the Board of Medicare Trustees.  Pursuant to our committee’s oversight responsibilities, we are therefore writing to request documents pertaining to the Medicare Trigger to better ascertain Mr. Lew’s role in this matter during his time as budget director.

However, the Obama administration has not properly responded to their request for documents pertaining to the so-called Medicare trigger.

On Thursday, Senator Sessions sent a follow up letter requesting the documents again:

Your reply to the letter from our committee members was non-responsive. The Administration has never complied with the Medicare trigger—and you effectively conceded as much in your letter. The law is unambiguous and yet the Administration has never sent Congress the legally mandated legislative proposal in response to four consecutive Medicare funding warnings. The previous Administration, on the other hand, did comply. These facts are not in dispute.

As our oversight letter states, in order to properly consider Mr. Lew’s nomination, Congress will need documents pertaining to his role in the violation of this law, as well as a concrete legislative proposal that brings the Administration into legal compliance. Failure to do so could make it difficult for Mr. Lew’s nomination to move forward.

Obviously, Republicans should press Lew hard on this failure to abide by federal statutes.  This, coupled with his Cayman Islands investments, will be another rocky confirmation hearing for the Obama administration.  Furthermore, what’s with Obama’s affinity for controversial nominees?