U.S. Rep. Tom Price, M.D. (R-Ga.) on Wednesday appeared in his first of two confirmation hearings as President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary-designate of Health and Human Services. Price’s testimony before the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee was merely a courtesy, as the Senate Finance Committee maintains the authority to push his nomination to a vote by the full body.
But that didn’t stop the committee’s Democrats, including the most liberal Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), from using their television time to engage in a character assassination of one of the most qualified HHS nominees in recent history.
In between frantic shouting and constant interruptions of the nominee they were supposed to be interviewing, Democrats checked all their interest group boxes, from climate change to Planned Parenthood, in characteristically hyperbolic rhetoric and periodic meltdowns for the American public to see.
The most dramatic example was what could be reasonably described as a temper tantrum by Warren, the liberal standard-bearer who also happens to be the senior senator from the Bay State. Despite repeated refutations of a now-debunked insider trading smear promulgated by the Left and happily spread by the media, Warren spent her seven minutes of hearing time yelling, interrupting and talking over Price, ultimately declaring that with, in her words, a “wink, wink, nudge, nudge,” he engaged in illegal activity concerning his personal investment portfolio.
For the orthopedic surgeon, who kept his cool throughout the entire hearing and happily answered even the most malicious “question” posed by Senate Democrats, they had taken it too far.
“I am offended by the insinuation [of corruption],” Price countered in an uncharacteristically forceful tone.
The behavior of Senate Democrats was so poor, in fact, that Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) ended the 4-½ hour hearing by apologizing to Price for their incivility and melodramatics that distracted from the substance on policy disagreements.
Democrats checked all their interest group boxes in characteristically hyperbolic rhetoric and periodic meltdowns for the American public to see
Throughout the afternoon, Republicans including Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) expressed their disgust at the sinister smear campaign launched by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and carried out by rank-and-file liberals in his caucus.
Yesterday, Price exposed their very simple motivation: they fear him.
They fear Price, not because they actually believe he’s going to kill thousands of Americans (as one former Democratic National Committee staffer proclaimed on Fox News) or because he’ll leave cancer patients without care. Nor do they really think he will rip birth control out of the purses of low-income women or feed children unchecked produce riddled with hepatitis. They don’t worry that Price will turn seniors into beggars, nor do they lie awake at night nervous that he’ll shutter indigent care hospitals.
They fear Price because they know he’s competent.
He proved that Wednesday with each question he answered calmly, expertly and cheerfully. From rare diseases cures to the challenges in transitioning to electronic medical records to the mechanics of insurance pooling mechanisms, he fielded every single inquiry with the expertise that could be developed only after three decades as a doctor and many years developing health care policy.
He explained in great detail how Republicans were committed to finding solutions that lowered costs, expanded access and preserved patients’ rights. He also shared how his experiences as a physician sparked his passion for delivering quality health care choices for all people, no matter who they are or how much money they had. He reminded lawmakers that his record reflects his heart for service, both as a doctor and a statesman, and that his primary goal at HHS would always be to ensure no one is left behind.
They fear Price because they know he’s competent
If he weren’t as smart or as convincing as he was, Democrats wouldn’t bother with him. They’d let his nomination sail through, eagerly awaiting any opportunity to mock him or destroy him a few months into the Trump Administration. They’d perceive any weaknesses as openings to undermine any repeal-and-replace efforts to protect the Obama Administration’s only remaining legacy item in a record crumbling behind him as he closes the door to the White House.
But Price represents the well-informed, highly capable opposition to Obamacare that has developed since before the law was even passed. It is rational, it is compassionate and it is resolute. It is not easily deterred by the Democrats’ histrionics, scare tactics and — in the unjust case of the smear on Price’s blemish-free record — character assassination.
In Wednesday’s hearing, the Democrats showed the country what they were: hypocrites hiding their own shady investment deals, groupthink junkies who would not dare diverge from the Schumer-directed smear campaign against a man they know to be decent and policy dwarfs too cowardly to face head-on the painful human costs of President Obama’s signature law. For Democrats whose first love is power, Price represents a grave threat.
But they also showed us who Dr. Tom Price is, too: a competent, ethical and qualified leader who stands ready to reform health care in this country to actually offer hope for patients, families and doctors. With unified Republican support for his nomination, he’ll get his chance.
Ellen Carmichael is a senior writer for Opportunity Lives. Follow her on Twitter @ellencarmichael.