In a thinly reported move the other day, House and Senate Democratic leaders decided to “fast track” coming up with a compromise health care bill. Rather than forming the usual conference committee that includes members from both parties, the fast track approach will be held behind closed doors and include only the Democratic leadership from both houses, along with representatives from the Obama administration. The plan is for the House to amend the Senate’s health care bill and then pass the result to the Senate for ratification.
The President, who a year ago said that his approach would involve “bringing all parties together, and broadcasting those negotiations on C-SPAN so that the American people can see what the choices are,” is now meeting in secret to force through unpopular legislation? So much for campaign promises, bipartisanship, and open government.
I believe that the proposed health care finance legislation being considered is a bad idea, in large part due to the reasons I pointed out in my January 2003 blog entry, The Fallacy of Affordable Health Insurance. The Administration and its Democratic lackies pay lip service to those arguments, but there’s little in the way of effective cost containment in the proposed legislation. There are, however, plenty of instances of filling dissenters’ mouths with gold, the most egregious being the part that has the Federal government pay for the expansion of Medicaid in Nebraska. Forever. Funny how Sen. Nelson of Nebraska changed his vote after that bit was added.
The Democratic Congressional leadership and the Obama administration should not be taking this behind closed doors approach to the health care legislation. Or any legislation, come to think of it. They promised us open government, only to revert to business as usual whenever it looks like things aren’t going their way. I know that the President wants health care legislation passed before his State of the Union speech, but doing it this way goes against everything he said he holds dear.
I said that I’d give President Obama a chance to see if he really does live up to the standards that he set forth. If he continues on this course, I’ll know that he’s no better than any other politician who puts his and his party’s agenda ahead of the good of the nation. I’m not terribly surprised, and I suppose I shouldn’t be disappointed.