Blumenauer asks supporters not to talk

Congressman Blumenauer in the news
John in Oregon

As the lame duck waddled out of Washington DC last week the midnight lights were burning in the halls of bureaucracy. One of the first orders of business was seasons greetings from Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and the folks at Health and Human Services. Under a new rule, the federal government will now decide what counts as an unreasonable health insurance rate increase. As the Wall Street Journal noted:

This is all an effort to end-run Congress, which by some miracle declined to give HHS the formal legal authority to explicitly block premium increases, despite a direct appeal from President Obama. Instead, Ms. Sebelius is creating by regulatory fiat larger de facto powers to achieve the same end.

In other late night work HHS reopened a proposal to implement end-of-life planning which earlier touched off a political death panel firestorm. The proposal was dropped from the legislation to overhaul the health care system. The New York Times reports the Obama administration will achieve the same goal by regulation. The Times article quotes Representative Blumenauer:

Mr. Blumenauer, the author of the original end-of-life proposal, praised the rule as “a step in the right direction.”

After learning of the administration’s decision, Mr. Blumenauer’s office celebrated “a quiet victory,” but urged supporters not to crow about it.

“While we are very happy with the result, we won’t be shouting it from the rooftops because we aren’t out of the woods yet,” Mr. Blumenauer’s office said in an e-mail in early November to people working with him on the issue. “This regulation could be modified or reversed, especially if Republican leaders try to use this small provision to perpetuate the ‘death panel’ myth.”

Moreover, the e-mail said: “We would ask that you not broadcast this accomplishment out to any of your lists, even if they are ‘supporters’ — e-mails can too easily be forwarded.”

The e-mail continued: “Thus far, it seems that no press or blogs have discovered it, but we will be keeping a close watch and may be calling on you if we need a rapid, targeted response. The longer this goes unnoticed, the better our chances of keeping it.”

Thanks Congressman for keeping the lid on so controversy won’t disrupt people during the holidays. Keeping a secret in the lame duck session and for nearly two months in Washington DC is remarkable. One wonders what other regulations are being discussed in the back office, behind closed doors. As the Journal noted of these regulatory decisions:

This discretion is typical of the vast ad hoc powers that ObamaCare handed to regulators.