Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Today In Screw-The-American-People-Land DemCare

You aren't seeing the 'negotiations' taking place on DemCare because they're still being kept hidden (emphasis mine):

Speaking at a town hall meeting on August 21, 2008, in Chester, Virginia, then-candidate Barack Obama promised the American people: "I'm going to have all the negotiations around a big table. We'll have doctors and nurses and hospital administrators. Insurance companies, drug companies … what we will do is, we'll have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN, so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents … And so, that approach, I think is what is going to allow people to stay involved in this process." The participants around Obama's fictional big table may have changed depending on where he was speaking, but throughout his campaign the essential promise was always there: "negotiations televised on C-SPAN."

Of course, Obama already broke this promise to the American people months ago. According to PoliFact, the backroom deals Obama cut with drug companies and hospitals last July already violated this pledge. But those were just preliminary negotiations. Surely when it came time for the final health care bill passage in Congress, Obama and his allies would welcome some transparency into the process? No such luck.

Politico is reporting that President Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will meet at the White House today (joined by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) via conference call) to set the parameters for reconciling the House and Senate versions of health care legislation. However, instead of proceeding with the usual public and open conference committee process, the White House is going to take a very active role in secret behind-closed-door meetings between the House and Senate. The Sunlight Foundation explains the implications for the American people: "Both House and Senate rules require that all conference committee meetings be open to the public unless a majority of conferees votes in open session to close the meetings. Senate rules require all conference committee reports be publicly available for at least 48 hours prior to a final vote. Without conference, there is no mechanism to provide for openness in the final discussions regarding the health care bill."

And there is plenty of reason the American people should demand transparency in the final stages of the legislative process. We previously identified Six Key Differences between the House and Senate bills, all of which deserve their own public debate. But one issue in particular is in desperate need of the disinfectant powers of sunlight: Sen. Ben Nelson's (D-NE) deal exempting Nebraska from the costs of Obamacare's Medicaid expansion.

Last week, after a group of 13 state attorneys general promised to file suit against Obamacare should the Nelson deal become law, Nelson called South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster to "call off the dogs." According to McMaster's office, Nelson said the deal was not his idea, was simply a "marker" placed in the bill, and that the issue would be fixed by extending the same Medicaid exemption to all states. Will the budget-busting Medicaid problem get "fixed" for all states? If so, how? The American people deserve to know.

There is more than one reason the American people have turned solidly against President Obama's health plan. Americans believe Obama's plan will increase their health care costs, decrease the quality of their health care, raise their taxes, and increase the deficit. And as former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean has admitted, Obamacare is not real health care reform. No wonder President Obama wants as little public input as possible.

DemCare is the primary reason behind Obama's continuing decline in the polls, as well as the current ugly rating for Congress (emphasis mine):

Voters feel more strongly than ever that Congress is performing poorly and that most of its members are in it for themselves.

Fifty-eight percent (58%) of U.S. voters now say Congress is doing a poor job. That's the highest negative finding since Rasmussen Reports began surveying on the question in November 2006.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 12% of voters believe Congress is doing a good or excellent job, the lowest total since the first of February last year.

Yep, secret partisan closed-door meetings about a fundamental overhaul of the American society and economy will do that.

Interestingly, now even C-SPAN is clamoring for Obama to fulfill his campaign promise:

In a letter to congressional leadership dated December 30, 2009, C-SPAN wrote:

As your respective chambers work to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate health care bills, C-SPAN requests that you open all important negotiations, including any conference committee meetings, to electronic media coverage.

C-SPAN noted that it is willing to commit resources to cover all negotiations and that, to date, it has televised hundreds of hours of committee hearings for public access. More importantly, the network called on the President and congressional leadership to live up to their commitment to transparency:

President Obama, Senate and House leaders, many of your rank-and-file members, and the nation's editorial pages have all talked about the value of transparent discussions on reforming the nation's health care system. Now that the process moves to the critical stage of reconciliation between the Chambers, we respectfully request that you allow the public full access, through television, to legislation that will affect the lives of every single American.

Even the mainstream media are picking up on this salient point. From an ABC News report:

The C-SPAN television network is calling on congressional leaders to open health care talks to cameras — something President Barack Obama promised as a candidate.

Instead the most critical negotiations on Obama's health plan have taken place behind closed doors, as Republicans repeatedly point out…

Obama pledged during a presidential debate in January 2008 that he would be "bringing all parties together, and broadcasting those negotiations on C-SPAN so that the American people can see what the choices are."

It's high time he kept his pledge.

He won't.  He can't afford for any more exposure to this abomination than what already has been given.  They'll spring a new giant-sized bill (will this one be over 2,500 pages? 3,000?) at what they feel is the most opportune time to shove it through both houses of Congress again, and try to get it signed into law without giving the American people any chance to look at it or understand it.  I guarantee you no one outside of these private meetings will have any idea what's involved.

One other interesting aspect to consider: Massachusetts state Senator Scott Brown.  This Republican is within striking distance of the Democrat assumed-winner of Ted Kennedy's seat in the Senate, Martha Coakley.  Out-financed and out-known, Brown is nevertheless closing well with some creative advertising and by harnessing the blogosphere in what could be a very interesting special election later this month.  It's a long shot, but if Brown should happen to pull it out, that would effectively break the 60-vote threshold that is holding together the Dems' precarious coalition of DemCare support.  If you live in Massachusetts, you need to check this out, and go vote.  If you don't live there, you can still send money to Brown's campaign as they enter the last couple of critical weeks before the election takes place. 

Boy, would it not be earth-shattering for Ted Kennedy's former Senate seat to be the back-breaker of DemCare?  Delicious...

There's my two cents.

No comments: