As some of you know, Chuck Grassley is making a fuss over the link on the Health and Human Services website that allows people to click a button to "state your support for health reform this year". The White House is arguing that it's legal. Possibly, just barely. But it's creepy, and the government shouldn't be doing this.
There are good reasons that we keep the operations of the permanent civil service out of the legislative arena. Though it is part of the executive branch, the civil service is not supposed to work to advance the President's agenda; it is there to carry out the laws that have already been passed. (And no, it's not okay when Republican presidents do it either--though I'm not sure whether he actually did anything wrong*, or just thought about it.)
It's thus entirely inappropriate for the HHS website to contain a link to this letter:
We strongly support your commitment to comprehensive health reform.
This is not a luxury. The continuing, sharp escalation of health care costs for families, businesses, and government is unsustainable. Reform is imperative.
We believe that health reform must be enacted this year.
Reform is needed to help America's families struggling with rising costs and those who are losing their insurance. At the same time, real health reform is crucial to keeping American businesses competitive in the world economy and for the country's long-term economic viability. As our country faces economic challenges, the time for reform is now.
We support health reform that follows these principles:
- Protect families' financial health
- Assure affordable, quality health coverage for all Americans
- Provide portability of coverage
- Guarantee choice of doctors
- Invest in prevention and wellness
- Improve patient safety and quality of care
- End barriers to coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions
- Reduce long-term growth of health costs for businesses and government
During these extraordinarily challenging times, we need to put aside past differences and address the health and economic crisis. Our shared interest must come before narrow interests so we can achieve a health system that is affordable and provides high quality for all Americans. We will support your budget with its reserve fund dedicated to achieving health care reform in a fiscally responsible manner. Each of us must be prepared to contribute to achieving this fundamental goal.
By signing this statement we affirm our commitment to work with you and our Congressional leaders to enact legislation this year which provides affordable, high quality coverage for all Americans.
Obviously, there is no corresponding link where you can say "Thanks, but no thanks."