“We will have a public, uh, process for forming this plan. It’ll be televised on C-SPAN…. It will be transparent and accountable to the American people.” –Barack Obama, November 2007
“That’s what I will do in bringing all parties together, not negotiating behind closed doors, but bringing all parties together, and broadcasting those negotiations on C-SPAN so that the American people can see what the choices are, because part of what we have to do is enlist the American people in this process.” –Barack Obama, January 2008
“[T]hese negotiations will be on C-SPAN…” –Barack Obama, January 2008
“We’re gonna do all these negotiations on C-SPAN so the American people will be able to watch these negotiations.” –Barack Obama, March 2008
“All this will be done on C-SPAN in front of the public.” –Barack Obama, April 2008
“I want the negotiations to be taking place on C-SPAN.” –Barack Obama, May 2008
“[W]e’ll have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN, so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents, and who is, who are making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies.” –Barack Obama, August 2008
“We will work on this process publicly. It’ll be on C-SPAN. It will be streaming over the Net.” –Barack Obama, November 2008
After much bribery and arm-twisting, the Senate managed just before Christmas to pass its version of ObamaCare by a 60-39 vote (amazingly, without a single GOP “aye”). Now, the bill heads for conference deliberation televised by C-SPAN, just as the cable channel offered and Barack Obama promised numerous times.
Democrats let slip this week that there would be no typical conference committee on the competing House and Senate versions of the health bill, as “leaders” opted instead for private negotiations with “key” congressmen and senators, none of whom is Republican. Once an agreement is reached, each legislative chamber will vote again and send the unified bill to the president.
Without a conference committee, a rule requiring public access to the conference report for at least 48 hours before a vote would conveniently not apply. That means even more liberty-stealing treachery can be slipped into the bill with little notice. Funny how the “public option” doesn’t mean that the public gets to know what’s in the bill.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) nevertheless had the gall to declare, “There has never been a more open process for any legislation in anyone who’s served here’s experience.” In response, Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto mocked, “Has a more false or awkwardly worded statement ever come out of anyone who has served as speaker of the House’s mouth?”
In spite of Democrats’ best efforts at “transparency,” there are many extra-special things that we actually do know about the bill. For example, on page 1,020, the Senate bill states: “It shall not be in order in the Senate or the House of Representatives to consider any bill, resolution, amendment or conference report that would repeal or otherwise change this subsection.” In other words, the bill creates an eternal law by prohibiting future elected Congresses from making changes to this subsection.
What’s in the subsection in question? The infamous “death panel” — the Independent Medicare Advisory Board (IMAB), whose objective will be to “reduce the per capita rate of growth in Medicare spending” (read: to ration health care).
Meanwhile, the bill contains what amounts to a marriage penalty worth $2,000 or more in insurance premiums each year. The Wall Street Journal explains, “The disparity comes about in part because subsidies for purchasing health insurance under the plan from congressional Democrats are pegged to federal poverty guidelines. That has the effect of limiting subsidies for married couples with a combined income, compared to if the individuals are single.”
Finally, Obama signaled this week that he’s willing to break another campaign promise: The “no tax increases on the middle class” pledge. He threw his support behind the Senate’s tax on higher end “Cadillac” insurance plans, something unions and House Democrats oppose.
The more the public learns about this continuing saga, the more vigorously opposed they become to “reform.” No wonder Democrats want the process to remain secret.