Obama Under Fire for Recess Appointment

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This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," July 8, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: It is being called a major slap in the face of the United States Congress. President Barack Obama is under fire over his decision to skirt the Senate confirmation process and recess-appoint this man, Donald Berwick, as the head of Medicare and Medicaid services.

Now the controversial appointment was a hot topic at yesterday's White House press briefing. Take a look at this.


ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There are aspects of the health care law that have to be implemented on a timeline that I'm sure many who oppose Dr. Berwick for political reasons didn't want to see implemented.

We are not going to have the viewpoints of a few hold up the law of the land.


HANNITY: Now the outrage is not coming from just a few senators. The president is now feeling the heat from his left flank as well.

Now Senate Finance Committee chair Max Baucus has criticized the move saying crucial questions about the nominee will now go unanswered. Among those questions, Berwick's controversial ties to the health care industry.

Now according to "The Hill" newspaper, Berwick's Institute for Health Care Improvement received upwards of $9 million from secret donors in 2008 and 2009. Now thanks to President Obama, we may never know where that money came from.

In addition, Berwick won't have to face tough questions over some wildly controversial statements that he's made in the past. For example, like this one.


DR. DONALD BERWICK, CMS DIRECTOR: Sick people tend to be poorer and that poor people tend to be sicker. And any health care funding plan that is just, equitable, civilized, and humane must — must redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer and the less fortunate.

Excellent health care is, by definition, is re-distributional.


HANNITY: All right, now sadly, America, this is the man who is about to be in charge of Medicare and Medicaid.

And joining me now with reaction is the author of the New York Times best seller, "Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight," Fox News contributor, the architect, Karl Rove is back with us.

Karl, welcome back.


HANNITY: "Any health care plan funding that is just, equitable, civilized and humane must redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer and the less fortunate. Excellent health care is by definition re-distributional."

What else can you say?

ROVE: Well, I wish that was the only — well, I wish that was the only controversial thing he said. He's also on record in favor of rationing of health care. He said let's admit it, we ration health care. Let's get about doing it in the right way. He said I love — I love the British health care system. They — you know, which is government-run health care. Single payer. And, you know —

Look, every president uses recess appointments. But they use them in limited occasions and when a number of tests have been met. Only one of the traditional tests has been met in this instance. It is controversial. Typically presidents have used these mostly on controversial nominees. And he is controversial. But none of the other tests have been met.

There's been no delay in hearing him before Congress and giving him an up or down vote in the committee or on the floor of Senate. In fact, he took 11 weeks to send in his paperwork and two weeks ago the ranking Republican on the committee, Senator Charles Grassley, said can we please have a hearing with Dr. Berwick and get this going forward?

No senators placed a hold on him. You know, behind the scenes, not allowing his nomination to be brought up for a vote. There is no emergency. They left this nomination, this position, vacant for months and months and months and months and months.

And Congress is not out for a long break. It simply went home for the July Fourth holidays. So the president did this and the American people have every reason to question him whenever he talks about transparency and accountability.

HANNITY: Well, I think transparency and accountability, that's one factor here. But it's a very different position than the president took when he was selling health care to the American people.

You can keep your own system. Anybody that suggested that there would be any type of rationing or mention, quote, "the death panels," was mocked and ridiculed here. But basically he's confirming this is what he supports because he supports the British model which, in fact, has a government rationing body which calculates the finances based on your — the age that they expect you'll get to and they decide whether or not you'll get the care. Your life expectation.

ROVE: Yes. Look. We have a controversial nominee for a very important job who's going to write the rules and regulations that will govern one- sixth of the American economy and the president of the United States has decided that he would rather not subject him to the advice and consent of the United States Senate as required by the constitution.

And look, I could understand if we gone through six-month or five-month or four-month long battle in a contentious nomination and Republican senators were unfairly putting a hold on his nomination but, you know — but look, there is a Democrat majority of 51 in the Senate — 59 in the Senate. They have a Democrat committee chairman. It is the Republicans who are asking for a committee hearing so the American people have a chance to judge this nominee for themselves.

HANNITY: All right.

ROVE: And it's the president of the United States saying no, we're not going to give you a hearing. We're not going to have this man brought before the American people subjected to tough questions and then voted upon up or down.

It just — you know, President Obama said when there was a contentious nomination of John Bolton to the United Nations ambassador which went on for months and months and months, and finally President Bush said I'm going to break the log jam. You will not give him an up or down vote, I'm going to go ahead and nominate him.

President Obama then Senator Obama said that it was — Ambassador Bolton was, quote, "damaged goods and would have less credibility." I think that happened at the end of a long contentious battle. This happened at the beginning of the process, not at the end.

I think the CMS director, Dr. Berwick, is going to enter office as more than damaged goods and with very little credibility because of the way the president put him in.

HANNITY: All right, so let's look at the big picture here. We're 117 days away from an election. Unemployment still near double-digits in spite of $3 trillion this president accumulated in debt in less than two years.

We got an oil spill. We're in, what, day 79, heading into day 80. All we've seen is incompetence. We don't see the problem being solved there. Right track, wrong track, he's losing independence, 38 percent.

Barbara Boxer is in trouble in a recent poll. Russ Feingold is in trouble in a recent poll. Harry Reid is behind in Nevada.

I mean, 117 days out, you would think that this would be the last thing they would want to do. When you look into your crystal ball, do you see that magic number getting closer and closer?

ROVE: I do. But let's understand why they are doing this. They are doing this for two reasons. One is contempt. They have contempt for the press because they know that they will not get asked tough questions.

You're right, Mr. Gibbs got a question or two at the briefing the other day. But they just think they can brush this off. They also have contempt for Congress. Remember, we had all these Democrats.

Harry Reid called Bush's recess appointments, you know, a violation of the Constitution. You know, Chuck Schumer called them legally questionable and politically shabby. But President Obama doesn't care about those things said by Democrats in the Congress. He has a contempt for the process.

He doesn't worry about that. It's also a sign of weakness in my opinion. Look, it's one thing if you go through a big contentious battle over a nominee and then make a recess appointment. You can say the president is showing strength by standing by his man.

But by cutting and running from the process, by calling an early halt to it, by not even engaging in one committee hearing on this guy in front of the Senate Finance Committee

HANNITY: All right.

ROVE: The president is demonstrating weakness. And that's what he's facing in this election. Weakness.

HANNITY: But I think it also once again exposes, I think, his rigid ideology and that is, you know, here's a guy that's —

ROVE: Well, sure.

HANNITY: They're pretty much saying what he said in that unscripted moment with Joe the plumber.

Let me ask you this. Because we've got — the charges now the Department of Justice is playing racial politics in the New Black Panther Party case. Here they had default decision final in the case. You got these guys in paramilitary garb with batons hurling racial epithets at voters.

And couple that with the immigration lawsuit against Arizona. And you couple that with the NASA administrator now saying that the four most charge that the president gave him was outreach to the Muslim world.

And all of these smaller issues together with the larger issues on the economy and oil, you know, is there anything the Democrats can run on where they can say they are successful? Anything?

ROVE: Well, no, no. And, in fact, I think the president made an acknowledgment of that in his speech in Kansas City where he basically had a fundraiser for Robin Carnahan who said basically the Republicans when they were in power only cut taxes for the rich.

Wait a minute, Mr. President.

President Obama may not have been in Congress when it happened but he could certainly read the laws. And that is to understand the tax rates were cut for every American who pays taxes.

In fact, the bottom rate was lowered from 15 percent to 10 percent. The biggest percentage tax cuts went to the people at the bottom. And President Obama knows he can't run on his record, so he's distorting those of his opponents and trying to get away with it.

But, look, they are in deep trouble and he is simply making it worse for them.

HANNITY: All right, Karl Rove, thanks for being with us as always. We appreciate it.

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