Guest Column: A conspiracy that is not a theory

By Thair Phillips

Conspiracy theories have always captured America’s attention. The thought that a hidden group can manipulate and control money and governments from behind a veil of secrecy and misinformation both scares and intrigues us at the same time. We think the government really has an alien in Area 51 and that there was a second shooter on the “grassy knoll” in Dallas in 1963. We weave conspiracy into every major event from 9/11 to the global financial crisis. The major problem with most conspiracy theories is that too many people would have to be in on the cover-up for it to remain a secret very long. That’s why the conspiracy I’m going to talk about has a good chance of succeeding…it’s not a secret, at least not from those in Washington, D.C.!

This conspiracy has a chance of working because it is hidden in the bowels of one of the biggest and most far-reaching pieces of legislation ever passed. It is a conspiracy to circumvent the legislative process and the powers outlined in the Constitution through government bureaucracies. Judicial activism is defined as judges going beyond their appropriate powers and engaging in making law, rather than merely interpreting it. I think that America is headed down the path of bureaucratic activism, which I define as unelected bureaucrats using their broad powers to define and implement regulations that are outside the intent of the laws of the land. These are unelected bureaucrats using “creative” regulatory powers not defined in the Constitution—to control our public policy.

An obvious case in point is the new health care reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which created a new panel called the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). The IPAB is composed of 15 or fewer presidential appointees and is scheduled to begin its efforts to cut Medicare spending in 2014. The language that created this panel was not debated or scrutinized by either house because it was added in the final back-room adjustments of the Senate bill with the promise that the language would be flushed out during conference with the House version. As we all know, there never was a conference since the House passed the Senate bill as is.

The board was created as a way to avoid the political problems that come with cutting government benefits. Unfortunately, the avoidance of these problems also circumvents some of the very basic rights afforded us in the Constitution.

For instance: 1) The members of the board, the ones who will make the decisions that will affect the financial well-being of Medicare, will be appointed by the president. They will not answer to the people. 2) If Congress does not offer an alternative to the board’s recommendation within a short period of time, the recommendation is turned into law, with no discussion, amendments, or vote. 3) It takes an unprecedented three-fifths vote to overrule the recommendation of the board. Nothing in the Constitution allows for laws to be passed using this method.

This board is the poster child of an open conspiracy to bypass the Constitution. It is our elected representatives handing over their power to a board appointed by the president. This is not what the founding fathers envisioned; this is what they were fighting against, the ability of a government entity, of which they had no representation and no power to elect, having the ability to affect their finances and well-being. IPAB goes even further, impacting our health, and perhaps even our right to live.

This conspiracy to lead America down the path of bureaucratic activism needs to be recognized and stopped. The checks and balances of the Constitution have served us well for more than 200 years. We must not allow IPAB, an insidious unelected board, to usurp those very basic rights.

Thair Phillips is the president and CEO of RetireSafe, grassroots organization that advocates and educates on behalf of America’s seniors on issues regarding Social Security, Medicare, health and financial well-being.

From the Jan. 12-18, 2011 issue

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