George Will: Mitt Romney's trifecta of tasks

Published: October 7, 2012
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Late in the debate, when Romney for a third time referred to Obamacare's creation of “an unelected board, appointed board, who are going to decide what kind of (medical) treatment you ought to have,” Obama said, “No, it isn't.” Oh?

The Independent Payment Advisory Board perfectly illustrates liberalism's itch to remove choices from individuals, and from their elected representatives, and to repose the power to choose in supposed experts liberated from democratic accountability. Beginning in 2014, IPAB would consist of 15 unelected technocrats whose recommendations for reducing Medicare costs must be enacted by Congress by Aug. 15 of each year. If Congress does not enact them, or other measures achieving the same level of cost containment, IPAB's proposals automatically are transformed from recommendations into law. Without being approved by Congress. Without being signed by the president.

These facts refute Obama's Denver assurance that IPAB “can't make decisions about what treatments are given.” It can and will by controlling payments to doctors and hospitals. Hence the emptiness of Obamacare's language that IPAB's proposals “shall not include any recommendation to ration health care.”

By Obamacare's terms, Congress can repeal IPAB only during a seven-month window in 2017, and then only by three-fifths majorities in both chambers. After that, the law precludes Congress from ever altering IPAB proposals.

Because IPAB effectively makes law, thereby traducing the separation of powers, and entrenches IPAB in a manner that derogates the powers of future Congresses, it has been well described by a Cato Institute study as “the most anti-constitutional measure ever to pass Congress.” But unless and until the Supreme Court — an unreliable guardian — overturns it, IPAB is a harbinger of the “shock and awe statism” (Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels' phrase) that is liberalism's prescription for curing the problems supposedly caused by insufficient statism.

Before Denver, Obama's campaign was a protracted exercise in excuse abuse, and the promise that he will stay on the statist course he doggedly defends despite evidence of its futility. After Denver, Romney's campaign should advertise that promise.

George Will's email address is georgewill@washpost.com.

WASHINGTON POST WRITERS GROUP