Democrats Cut Out Republicans, Public From Health Care Negotiations

The health care debate resumes today, and the big news is that Democrats have opted to cut Republicans out of the negotiating process, a move intended to keep GOP legislators from forcing unpleasant votes or using procedural delaying measures.

Meanwhile, the CEO of C-SPAN has written a letter to House and Senate leadership urging them to allow C-SPAN cameras into the House/Senate negotiations. There's no official word from Congressional leadership, but judging from White House press secretary Robert Gibbs' question dodging when asked about televising negotiations, it's unlikely to happen.

Now, this isn't terribly surprising — legislative negotiations are typically held behind closed doors — but it's pretty disappointing for a couple of reasons.

For one thing, secrecy makes the legislative sausage-making process even uglier. Without public scrutiny, politicians just aren't going to be as accountable. Democrats pay lip service to this idea all the time — the C-SPAN letter notes that "Senate and House leaders, many of your rank-and-files members, and the nation's editorial pages have all talked about the value of transparent discussions on reforming health care." Obama has declared that his administration "is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government."

But as important, I think, is that without reporters and recorders in the room, we'll miss out on the historical record, which is both useful (in terms of understanding the legislative process) and interesting (as political narrative). That's important for any bill, and it's especially true with a bill of this size and this sort of transformational impact. When future generations — or, hell, current generations — ask how we got the system we have, we'll be able to tell part of the story, but when it comes to the end, we'll simply have to speculate, or shrug our shoulders in confusion, as crucial details from the final days of negotiating will be missing.

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  • ||

    Imagine my astonishment.

  • hmm||

    Why oh why do you people hate Hope and Change so much? You can't have maximum Hope and Change if you have to answer to every small detail.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    Racism is everywhere.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Obama has declared-

    Stop right there.

  • Johnny Longtorso||

    The goal is that we have no idea what the law says when its voted on, so nobody can voice objections.

  • ||

    I'm sick of all of the sausage making references. Sausage making may be very ugly, but in the end you wind up with something good, tasty sausage. This would be better referred to as shit making.

  • The Gobbler||

    I make my own sausage. It's not an ugly process at all. The benefits are tasty sausages with a very low fat content. Great for making jambalaya.

    Why it's considered ugly is a mystery to me.

  • ||

    Is you sausage stuffed into the intestines of a pig?

  • marlok||

    The best kind is. Really elastic parts of the intestine make the largest caliber sausage. The pig's rectum for example.

  • TXLimey||

    Commercial sausage making uses, shall we say, less choice cuts of meat than you probably use at home. This was even more true back when this term was coined. So while most folks enjoyed sausage, not everyone wanted to see them grinding up the hog anus.

  • Tony||

    not everyone wanted to see them grinding up the hog anus

    Speak for yourself, breeder!

  • T||

    "less choice cuts of meat". Nice euphemism for floor sweepings and leftovers, TXLimey.

  • Death Panelist||

    That future historians will be scratching their heads wondering the exact process that started the United States down the path to a total of five MRI machines nationwide, deficit lexicon moving to the next word after "trillion", and stagnating American medical innovation is the least of my worries. As if history learns from its mistakes, anyhow.

  • Johnny Longtorso||

    It will be blamed on market failure.

  • WWJGD||

    It takes a lot of work to get Brian Lamb annoyed with you.

  • JB||

    I look forward to more 'health care' for Democrats.

    It's long past time we start cutting them out.

  • hmm||

    See. Things are changing already. Last year had the most bankruptcies since the overall. Taking bets on when there will be legislation to alter bankruptcy laws.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/.....=rss_Today's_Most_Popular

    And Illinois stands alone

  • hmm||

    overall = over hall

  • ||

    overall = over hall
    Overhaul?

  • hmm||

    I give up. Shoot me now.

  • ||

    bang

  • ||

    Whats more curious to me is why ALL bill negotiations are not mandated as public.

    The joke that is the "transparency" of the Obama administration seems only to be lost on the vast majority of media hacks who appear to cover the White House and the cronies within.

  • ||

    If you don't fellate the doorman, you don't get into Studio 1600 and can't hang out with all the cool celebrities.

    See city beat reporters and the local police chief for another example of this phenomenon.

  • Keith Olbermann||

    That's how I got MY job!

  • hmm||

    You got your job because you work dirt cheap. And no one else made you an offer after you burned every bridge you had.

  • ||

    You do know that the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were the products of completely secret negotiations, right?

    There are plenty of good reasons for keeping negotiations secret. It's not like anyone would have any idea of what's actually in the bill if the meeting were open to the public, andyway.

  • adam||

    If it's such a good idea to hold the negotiations in secret, then why did the President promise to televise it on C-SPAN? Is he just naive?

  • ||

    No, nothing bad like that. It's just that he's a compulsive liar.

  • Andy Way||

    Dude, leave me out of this.

  • ||

    "Without public scrutiny, politicians just aren't going to be as accountable."

    Sorry to be a downer here, but I'm just not buying that anymore.

    They might be held accountable if they get caught cheating on their wife, but considering the aftermath of 9/11, the Iraq War, considering the bailouts, etc., what federal legislator in their right mind is worried about being held accountable for how they vote on a healthcare bill?

    The idea that politicians are afraid of being held accountable for how they vote is a fiction the minority likes to tell itself to make it feel better about being shafted. But what they're doing is horsetrading to decide what to impose on us--they are not afraid of being held accountable.

    Maybe they dont' want the distractions, but federal legislators being held accountable for how they vote?! Maybe that's what they want you to think. I guess that is their propaganda. But it's a joke! Thanks for the laugh.

  • ||

    You are living in the old days, Ken. You can't piss off both the youth vote and the seniors and get off scott free. There is going to be a price to be paid for this vote.

  • TXLimey||

    It's worth remembering that the Patriot Act and Iraq war had broad public support back when they were passed. TARP had less support, but also less opposition. Major opposition to all of these endeavors came months or years down the line. ObamaReidPelosiCare is being pushed through in spite of widespread opposition that exists now, and I think what the Dems want more than anything is as much time as possible between their screwing of their constituents and having to face those constituents at the polls.

  • ||

    ...and by the time of the 2010 general elections, the flood of stimulus spending scheduled for this summer will have produced the illusion of a strong economic recovery.

    It's all been carefully planned out from the beginning.

  • Rollo||

    absolutely, the black helicopters are to blame.

  • The Gobbler||

    "scott free"

    RACIST!

  • ||

    Now we no longer grind up the hog anii...we elect them to Congress.

  • MB||

    The reason the GOP isn't invited to the negotiations it that they've demonstrated - repeatedly, and without fail - that they aren't there in good-faith.

    As to the public, well . . .

  • ||

    No, finish that sentence. Are we not there in good faith either?

  • MB||

    no, here's the end of that sentence:

    it'll keep getting screwed until it decides to care enough not to.

  • ||

    Yes, but the Democrats have demonstrated- repeatedly, and without fail - that they aren't there in good-faith either. And yet they've seen fit to invite themselves.

    Apparently "not there in good-faith" means that the GOP is only making suggestions that the Democrats don't like, like buying insurance across state lines or tort reform.

  • Ted S.||

    During the Bush administration when the Republicans had a majority in Congress, "bipartisanship" meant that the Republicans were supposed to listen to the Democrats' objections and modify their legislation accordingly.

    Now, "bipartisanship" means that the minority Republicans are supposed to stop objecting and go along with the Democrats.

  • Bad Lt||

    No, because the Republicans in this Congress played no constructive role in the health care debate the result was a Democratic-only bill. The Republicans are left to hope and pray that the bill fails. If it succeeds, they'll get none of the credit, whether the conference committee met or not.

  • MB||

    Exactly.

  • ||

    "Bi-partisan" and "good faith" under Democrat rule has been demonstrated to be the right to agree with what Democrats are doing no matter how ill-conceived and stupid and to approve whatever half-baked idea they put forth without objection.

  • ||

    It's not like the Democrats work for us or anything.

    They exist on a higher, more benevolent plane of humanity that you or I, and they're quest to insert themselves into our daily lives and health care decisions surely is only done with the best intentions.

    Therefore, stay out of the room and just swallow what comes out. Such details need not concern you. Procedural votes and other "obstructions" should not be part of the democratic legislative progress.

    Just trust the Democrats, fine citizens. They've never, ever, ever said anything dishonest or done anything nefarious or dishonest in the past. They have no interest in petty politics or in retaining their power by any and all means - they simply want to "help" you with this legislation. And you don't have a choice anyway, so just learn to like it.

    Why would they start now behind their newly decreed veil of secrecy?

    Silly teabaggers.

  • ||

    *their

  • Paul||

    This is public property! You can't be in here!

  • Paul||

    Obama has declared that his administration "is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government."

    And Clinton declared his administration would be the most ethical in American history. And so it goes...

  • Hobo Chang Ba||

    I think he meant "openness" in the sense of "Hey look - the till is wide open. Come and get it!"

  • Wellescent Health Blog||

    The efforts by the Democrats to push the bill through now without delay are so that they can move on to other issues rather linger on this one when no further discussion is likely to change anything. By pushing it through quickly and quietly, most of the media coverage goes away and they can move on to other issues they want to address. Given that real public input only happens every few years in the form of elections, it is hardly surprising to see negotiations moved behind closed doors.

  • Dynahog||

    The Executive, Legislative and Judicial Branches of United States Government are "independent" and "separate". Neither one can really tell the other what to do. When two out of three agree, then it is called Balance of Powers. President Obama on health care has crossed the line of Partisan politics to the extreme by attending Democrat secret caucuses to change the HR 3962 and HR 3590 bills into one bill without Republicans, and without The People being involved or CSPAN broadcasting the Conference on the Two Bills. This in of itself is Un-Constitutional, and Highly Unethical. THE PEOPLE DESERVE MORE FROM THE EXECUTIVE AND LEGISLATIVE on a bill that literally affects all Americans from Newborns to the Oldest Living American. It is Time for VOTERS to really wake up!!!

  • Dynahog||

    Furthermore and besides all the Un-Constitutional provisions of either bill on Health Care that Democrats secretly put together, this "no prior medical" can be taken into account also violates the Constitution and rights of businesses. On the surface, it could look OK if exceptions to this were included in the bill: they aren't. Private Insurers can not afford and will be Bankrupt if People with Serious Health Issues (Heart or any other vital organ) start signing up and going into Surgeries and Treatments that really do cost over $250,000 "each". It adds up. I'm not saying nothing can be done. I am saying to force all Private Insurers to look the other way and absorb hits of $250,000 or more per operation on an Individual that may need DOZENS is suicidal and will surely cause Private Insurance Companies to FAIL. Public Insurance would be a hysterical next Act of Democrats who seem to forget Deficit Spent means Added National Debt. Where are Americans going to be when the United States is actually Bankrupt? Inflation - they print more money. Get used to paying $5000 for breakfast. But whoa Nelly...if you really want to tick off allies around the World just try this. Remember, Socialism is a failure by itself. Countries that have Socialized Medicine are the worst. But they depend on the USA for their DEFENSE. GIVEN NONE OF THAT, and the World enters Act III: Turmoil and Destruction.

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