Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New year, same garbage. (UPDATED)

Because nothing says “we’re proud of what’s in this bill" like pre-dawn and Christmas Eve votes, completely opaque “negotiations” and multi-hundred million dollar payoffs.

But it’s a new year and now that the House and Senate healthcare bills will need to be reconciled, maybe those conference committee negotiations will be televised live on C-SPAN just like the President promised, right?

Not quite.

Despite their claims to the contrary, the way that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have handled the healthcare bill has been anything but transparent. And, if the left-wing blogosphere is to be believed, the two congressional leaders intend to keep the deliberations secret as they try to merge the House and Senate versions of the legislation into something that will pass both chambers.

Legislation this important to the American people can’t be held up by anything as icky as parliamentary procedure, can it? The talking points going out will be that this method will remove the roadblocks set up by obstructionist Republicans when the reality is that House Democrats, like Bart Stupak, he of the anti-abortion Stupak amendment are just as nettlesome, if not more.

Every single feature in this bill and particularly every step along the legislative process path has convinced us this bill has nothing to do with improving healthcare but rather with passing something… anything for the sake of checking off “healthcare reform” on the presidential to-do list.

There’s no real reform in this bill. The net effect of Obamacare will be the increased subsidization of a flawed healthcare system that, over the years, will be dragged further downward under its own weight.

Features like the public option, if they are not in the final version that winds up on the President’s desk for signature, will worm its way into the system over the years via incrementalism.

Or as Paul Krugman would put it, Obamacare like any other great social safety net program we have instituted would just get better over time.

Just like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, eh, Krugman?

(UPDATE #1): Welcome to the struggle, C-SPAN...

When President Barack Obama was campaigning for the job in 2008, he vowed that he would bring greater transparency to government—especially when it comes to health care reform legislation:

We'll have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN, so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents, and who are making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies.

Now C-SPAN is asking precisely for that. Its CEO, Brain Lamb, has sent a letter to House and Senate leaders, requesting that his network be permitted to broadcast the final negotiations, as the two chambers work out the differences between each body's version of the legislation:

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.

The C-SPAN networks will commit the necessary resources to covering all of these sessions LIVE and in their entirety. We will also, as we willingly do each day, provide C-SPAN’s multi-camera coverage to any interested member of the Capitol Hill broadcast pool.


This plea for transparency would’ve been helpful when Congress returned to work in September after it’s summer break not now when the bill is mashed-up bag of fait accompli. Thanks for the timely and courageous hold-their-feet-to-the-fire request, C-SPAN.

1 comment:

Harrison said...

I must quote Nancy Pelosi here:

"The Democrats intend to lead the most honest, most open and most ethical congress in history."