Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Byron York explains why there is no Surgeon General

The Ebola scare has raised awareness that there is currently no one serving as Surgeon General. Is it all the Republicans fault like some liberal pundits claim? Of course not; they don't control the Senate explains Byron York. Excerpt:

There is, however, an Obama nominee for surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy, who has not been confirmed by the Senate after more than a year of waiting. Why hasn't Murthy won Senate approval in all that time?

To hear some of the president's advocates tell it, it's the Republicans' fault. "GOP blocks Surgeon General nominee," tweeted Eric Boehlert of the pro-Obama group Media Matters. "After blocking surgeon general nominee, Republican blames Obama for surgeon general vacancy," added another pro-Obama group, ThinkProgress.

Before getting into the details, here is the basic fact about charges that Republicans are blocking the surgeon general nominee: There are 55 Democrats in the Senate. Since Majority Leader Harry Reid changed the rules to kill filibusters for nominations, it would take just 51 votes to confirm Murthy. Democrats could do it all by themselves, even if every Republican opposed. But Democrats have not confirmed Murthy.

Why haven't they confirmed him? It turns out that the guy is embarrassingly political and obsessed with guns. He's behind the whole "Guns are a health care issue" nonsense, you know, asking Jimmy where daddy keeps his revolver when he's getting a check-up.

In 2008 Murthy, a Yale-trained physician currently affiliated with Harvard, founded a group called Doctors for America. Actually, he first called the organization Doctors for Obama; after Obama's victory, Doctors for Obama became Doctors for America. The group devoted itself to lobbying for passage of Obamacare.

The organization's political focus continued after the Obamacare battle was won. In 2012, Murthy got a lot of attention when he expressed frustration with opponents of his preferred gun control policies. "Tired of politicians playing politics w/guns," he tweeted, "putting lives at risk b/c they're scared of NRA. Guns are a health care issue."

In January 2013, after the Sandy Hook shootings, Doctors for America sent a letter to Congress advocating an assault weapon ban, universal background checks, mandatory waiting periods, a gun buyback program, and other proposals favored by gun control groups.

If nothing else, the letter showed that Murthy's approach to his profession remained deeply political. In any event, Murthy's activism came back to haunt him in November of 2013, when the president nominated him to be surgeon general.

So this guy is poison to Democrats seeking re-election in "red" states.

The National Rifle Association took a strong stand against Murthy, a position that caught the attention not only of Republicans but of red-state Democrats seeking re-election.

"Murthy's previous statements about gun control being a public health issue made him toxic to Democrats in cycle like [Mary] Landrieu, [Mark] Pryor, and [Mark] Begich," says one senior Republican aide.

So the truth is that there is bi-partisan opposition to confirming Vivek Murthy, and anyone who blames the Republican minority — who cannot filibuster under the new Senate rules — is lying.

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