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As Long as We Remember...

May 24, 2011

Federal Panel With Total Autonomy

Shawn Burns

When they operate as intended, local government commissions and boards and the people who serve on them, contribute a great deal to the community in which they serve.


Those who serve on these boards and commissions are unpaid volunteers donating their time, energy and knowledge.


Many people volunteer simply for the reason of giving back to the community they love. Others use these commissions as a springboard to bigger and better things in politics. That statement is not intended as a criticism of those people; it’s just a statement of fact.


For those of us who are too thin-skinned or lacking in a desire to run for elected office, boards and commissions are an alternative for us to still be directly involved with our local government.


At the federal level, appointed boards can wield tremendous amounts of power and their decisions can have serious consequences for us all.


As an example, we have the newly created Independent Payment Advisory Board. This board was created as part of the Affordable Health Care Act, or as some people like to call it, ObamaCare.


The Independent Payment Advisory Board will consist of 15 members, all of whom will be appointed by the president to serve a six-year term. Already, before any candidates have been nominated for this board, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle want to see this board completely eliminated.


Nominees will have to be confirmed by the Senate, which should provide some good entertainment.


The main purpose of the Independent Payment Advisory Board will be to oversee the management of Medicare, including making changes and cuts to the program.


The reason many lawmakers are opposed to the board is because once the board makes a decision, voters will have no recourse to dispute their decisions. But more importantly to lawmakers, they themselves will have very little ability to change the decisions enacted by this board.


Many congressman and healthcare professionals have argued against the board because it gives enormous power to a group of unelected and virtually unaccountable bureaucrats. And many of us already believe that we have too many bureaucrats in government making decisions that affect our lives. We want less, not more.


There is a bill currently in Congress, S.688, that if passed would do away with the Independent Payment Advisory Board. The bill probably has very little change of passing, but it does have bipartisan support among a small group of senators.


Who knows, with enough citizen outrage maybe more senators will sign on to the bill.


One last thought.


After rereading Henry David Thoreau’s classic, Civil Disobedience recently, one passage stuck out and lingered in my mind. Here it is:


“…this government never of itself furthered any enterprise… It does not keep the country free. It does not settle the West. It does not educate. The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished; and it would have done somewhat more, if the government had not sometimes got in its way.”


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