Amid a wash of government scandals, America is vulnerable right now. Actions taken by the IRS have left us feeling utterly degraded by the Obama administration.
And another Washington scandal we see brewing won’t make Americans feel any more comfortable about the power granted in our nation’s capital.
You see, there’s an unelected official who is known as a bad actor, and she’s about to be granted broad, undefined power over the people of this country.
The source of her power: Obamacare.
I’m talking about the U.S. Secretary of Health & Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, who come 2014 could be in charge of your health care.
Who is Kathleen Sebelius?
Before I explain the brewing Sebelius scandal, I want to take a closer look at her notorious track record for abuse of power.
Here are five notable examples:
#1: Bullied insurers into using false information
Sebelius threatened to put health insurance companies that didn’t toe the party line out of business.
In 2010, insurers sent letters to customers warning them of potential premium hikes due to Obamacare. Sebelius slapped these insurers’ wrists, staunchly declaring that premiums would increase no more than 2% and that the insurers ‘may be excluded from health insurance Exchanges in 2014’ if they continue misbehaving.
Meanwhile, her own agency HHS predicted premium increases of up to 7%.
#2: Violated Hatch Act
In 2012, Sebelius was reprimanded by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel for violating the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from using their office to engage in political activity.
At a meeting of the Human Rights Campaign, Sebelius used fear tactics, threatening voters to support President Obama and other democrats.
Probably no coincidence she made the remarks in the city that would shortly after host the DNC.
#3: Illegally diverted funds
Also in 2012, the Government Accountability Office issued a finding “…that HHS failed to demonstrate that it had the legal authority to divert $8.3 billion to finance a program that helped temporarily offset the impact of Medicare Advantage cuts during an election year.”
#4: Violated ethics laws
Amid all the other Obama admin scandals, Sebelius was recently found soliciting funds for Enroll America.
Enroll America is a non-profit that makes sure people sign up for Obamacare coverage options. Some say that Obamacare’s success or failure will depend on Enroll America’s performance.
Sebelius’ fundraising actions make Enroll America seem like an extension of the White House – in fact, it’s even headed by a former White House aide.
This has placed enormous, inappropriate pressure on insurers to ‘pay to play’ in order to secure favorable regulatory decisions and avoid reprisals.
Moreover, federal law bars officials from soliciting any organization or individual with whom they do business or regulate. Eyebrows are raised at Sebelius’ hush-hush fundraising call list.
When it comes down to it, Sebelius is unfairly pressuring insurers and possibly also recklessly violating federal ethics laws.
#5: Deliberately bypassed Congress
Sebelius is doing an end-run around Congress to obtain funding for Enroll America.
The Washington Post quoted an HHS spokesman last week saying, “We requested additional money [from Congress]…but we didn’t receive any additional funding for the exchanges. So we had to come up with a Plan B.”
On May 23, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) likened Sebelius’ power play to the Oliver North Iran-Contra affair.
Last month, chairmen on five congressional committees in both houses of Congress asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate.
The last thing we want Sebelius to have is more power, but that’s exactly what she’s about to get come 2014. Here’s why.
Obamacare: Sebelius’ Magic Wand
Obamacare is a mystery. No one really knows how it’s supposed to work; however, we do know the legislation is a tool that grants the HHS Secretary numerous powers.
Philip Klein, senior editorial writer for The Examiner, counts more than 2,500 references to the secretary of HHS within the health care law. More than 700 refer to instances in which Sebelius “shall” do something, and more than 200 reference instances in which she “may” do something.
A scary prospect, considering litany of abuses of power Sebelius has already demonstrated in her present, more limited, office.
So, what are some of these regulatory powers Sebelius will inherit come 2014? I wish I could tell you.
The Congressional Research Service, and even HHS itself, also wish they could tell you, but the truth is no one can.
In fact, Klein describes a section in the health care law entitled ‘Transparency in Government’. The section states:
- “Not later than 30 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall publish on the Internet website of the Department of Health and Human Services, a list of all of the authorities provided to the Secretary under this Act (and the amendments made by this Act).”
To-date, Sebelius has failed to publish a list of her authorities in compliance with this section.
The closest thing I could find is her Strategic Plan 2010-2015, which makes a few mentions of her health-care imbued powers.
For instance, she states, “The Affordable Health Care Act authorizes many new activities and modifications to existing activities related to the Nation’s current workforce challenges…”, but there is nothing actually laying out what Sebelius’ new responsibilities are exactly.
The haphazard way in which Obamacare empowered an unelected official with seemingly open-ended authority is downright irresponsible.
Sebelius, in particular, is the worst kind of person to grant these broad, undefined powers.
The more powerful a villain becomes, the more the people under her boot are bound to suffer.
For more on Obamacare: 15 Obamacare Facts the President Doesn’t Want You to Know
- Money Morning:
California Just Gave Us a Glimpse of How Obamacare Will Fail
- Money Morning:
Healthcare Costs: Same Procedure is $7,000 Here and $100,00 There
- The Examiner:
Philip Klein: Obamacare’s empress strikes again
- The Examiner:
The Empress of ObamaCare
- The Hill:
Insurers feel pressure from health group with ties to White House
Top Obama health adviser admits ‘mistake’ in political probe
Analysis: Some Republicans see new scandal in Sebelius fundraising
- The Wall Street Journal:
Lamar Alexander: Kathleen Sebelius, Meet Oliver North
Lamar Alexander: Kathleen Sebelius like Oliver North
- The Washington Post:
Budget request denied, Sebelius turns to health executives to finance Obamacare
- CATO Institute:
Sebelius Shakes Down Companies She Regulates for Cash to Implement ObamaCare
Wall Street Examiner Disclosure: Lee Adler, The Wall Street Examiner reposts third party content with the permission of the publisher. The opinions expressed in these reposts are not those of the Wall Street Examiner or Lee Adler, unless authored by me, under my byline. I curate posts here on the basis of whether they represent an interesting and logical point of view, that may or may not agree with my own views. Some of the content includes the original publisher's promotional messages. No endorsement of such content is either expressed or implied by posting the content. All items published here are matters of information and opinion, and are neither intended as, nor should you construe it as, individual investment advice. Do your own due diligence when considering the offerings of information providers, or considering any investment.