The columnist Nat Hentoff doesn’t mince words-and he has some harsh ones for the way healthcare legislation was sold to the public (or actually, not sold-the majority of the public remained opposed, even as its representatives voted for it).

 Hentoff’s beef is that the administration claimed that it was a “fear tactic” when Hentoff and others predicted that the new legislation would bring rationing. The appointment of Donald Berwick to run Medicare and Medicaid shows that Hentoff’s worries were justified:

 Unlike Obama, Berwick is enthusiastically, openly candid in his support of Britain’s socialistic National Health Service. In a 2008 speech to British physicians, our new health czar said: “I am romantic about National Health Service. I love it (because it is) ‘generous, hopeful, confident, joyous and just.'”

That “just” National Health Care Service decides which care can be too costly for the government to pay. Its real-time decider of life-or-death outcomes is the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). Here is how “nicely” it works, described by Michael Tanner, senior fellow and health-care expert at the Cato Institute (where I, too, am a senior fellow):

“It acts as a comparative-effectiveness tool for the National Health Care Service, comparing various treatments and determining whether the benefits the patients receives – SUCH AS PROLONGED LIFE – are cost-efficient for the government” (, May 27).

So listen to our very own decider of how the Obama administration will lower our national debt by cutting inefficient health-care costs. After declaring his ardent romantic attachment to the British system, Berwick said: “All I need to do to rediscover the romance is to look at health care in my own country.” He will, of course, be too busy to attend the funerals of the sacrificial Americans whose lives – not only those of the elderly – may thereby be cut short.

I also need to-ahem-make a clarification. I said that we should, in effect, get over the notion that there was anything amiss about using a recess appointment for Berwick and concentrate on Berwick’s philosophy. I wuz wrong. Recess appointments are supposed to be used to cut through the Gordian knot when an appointment has long been hung up in Congress.

The administration went straight to the recess tactic and avoided presenting this controversial appointment to Congress. That is not how recess appointments have been used before in our nation’s history.