The highs and lows of the past year are starting to catch up to me. I feel as if I have been in a long hand-to-hand fight, and have barely come out the winner. With bad news coming out of D.C. on a daily basis, and the rest of the bad news coming from friends and family, the question is no longer “when will things start to improve”, it’s “are we going to survive” ? The latest round of bad news has to do with our political class.
I know I’m late to the table with any words on this subject, but how much more can I really add to what people already know? Right, not much. Then late today I came across an Editorial out of a paper in Panama City, FL. This editorial is short and very to the point. What I liked most about it is how it explains how both parties are guilty of shenanigans. It’s probably one of the best I have read over the last few days while I have been looking into something that doesn’t exist… Open and Honest Government! Enjoy…
News Herald Editorial Panama City
Behind closed doors
Al Davis, legendary owner of the Oakland Raiders, has a famous philosophy on competing on the football field: “Just win, baby,” which is reflected in his team’s anything-goes style of play.
It’s the same strategy that Democrats in Washington have employed in passing health care legislation.
Although President Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress previously promised unprecedented transparency in the legislative process, the House and Senate have announced that with regard to their health care bills, they will abandon the usual approach of combining bills through a conference committee. Instead of holding a floor debate and inviting television coverage, they will craft a compromise behind closed doors, apparently without formal rules governing the process and with no Republicans at the table.
That is unacceptable. Legislation that even supporters promote as historic in its scope in reshaping the nation’s health care system deserves full public scrutiny.
Make no mistake, secrecy and strong-arm tactics are nothing new to Congress nor limited to one party. Republicans embarrassed themselves in 2003 by passing the Medicare prescription drug bill with chicanery. The GOP House leadership, with White House backing, kept the vote open an additional three hours so they could apply intense pressure to holdout Republicans and turned off C-SPAN cameras so no one outside could see what was going on. Not only was the bill unwarranted, but the way it was passed was indefensible.
That was supposed to change with the elections of the Democratic majority to Congress in 2006 and President Obama in 2008. Upon becoming House speaker, Nancy Pelosi promised “the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history.” On the campaign trail, Obama regularly promised voters that he would have C-SPAN televise health care legislation negotiations. He and congressional Democrats rallied in front of a large banner and in front of a lectern, both of which were emblazoned with the words “Honest Leadership” and “Open Government.”
Those high-minded paeans to transparency are like the embarrassing truths that everyone tries to ignore at family gatherings. That was then, this is now. That was feel-good campaign rhetoric, this is bare-knuckle politics.
Although they hold the majority in both chambers, Democrats are having to scramble for every vote to pass the health care bill. There’s already been a lot of horse trading to get two versions passed; imagine what the price will be to produce a compromise. The leadership doesn’t want the public to see what goes into the sausage grinder. Public knowledge could put additional pressure on Democratic holdouts to vote “no.”
In 2008, candidate Obama supported transparency because, he said, “shame is a healthy emotion and that you can shame Congress into doing the right thing if people know what’s going on.” Now it’s the reason to lock the doors and close the blinds.
Americans already were growing skeptical of health care “reform” because of its massive size and dependence on government control. But the unseemly way the process has played out — holding votes in the wee hours of the morning and on Christmas Eve, carving out exceptions in the bill for states with fence-sitting lawmakers, etc. — has further driven down public support.
Democrats are likely to get their bill. Let’s see how many keep their seats.