(Thumbnail image: Double Dutch Politics)

 

President Obama, November 2007: “We will work on this process publicly. It will be on C-SPAN. It will be streaming over the net.”


Candidate Obama promised greater transparency on Capitol Hill, but some say President Obama isn’t delivering when it comes to health care negotiations.

 

We’re looking at perspectives from The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and The Huffington Post.

 

When it comes to reconciling the House and Senate versions of the health care bill, ping pong is the name of the game.  No, not table tennis.  It’s a strategy that scraps a formal conference committee in favor of closed-door meetings between Democratic leaders, effectively shutting out Republicans from the process.

 

Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren outlines her complaints.

 

“Here’s the problem is that we didn’t hear about the special deal that Nebraska got until after the fact. If we’d had cameras on the whole process—now I realize that’s not practical—but we would have at least seen it go down... We’d like to see it as it goes down, instead of having it shoved down our throats.”


In fact, C-SPAN CEO Brian Lamb has requested full camera access to the negotiations.

 

An op-ed in The Fort Worth Star-Telegram supports the proposal.

 

“Granted, the proceedings would not be considered must-see TV, but the C-SPAN sleep-inducing format nonetheless provides much-needed accountability. Given the Senate’s last-minute pork-barrel largesse to sway fence-sitting moderates before Christmas, the trust level is at low ebb.”


But The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein suggests critics might be forgetting something.

 

“… the criticism ignores recent history -- both Democrats and Republicans have sidestepped the formal conference committee process on many previous pieces of legislation and rarely did such a maneuver engender howls of protest.”


The advantage for Democrats in private negotiations is Republicans won't get the opportunity to stall the bill’s progress with filibusters.

 

On MSNBC, a Washington Post correspondent points out Democrats might have a good reason to rush.


“The reason we’ve heard this sense of urgency from the White House from the very beginning is that they understand the way that Washington works. We’ve seen the president’s political popularity in his polling numbers decline so that he has less political capital…They realize that the reality of Washington is if they don’t finish it up quickly, it may not get done.”


Finally, Chris Cillizza tells CNN’s Jessica Yellin that either way, the controversy won’t have lasting impact--at least not on the president.


“I think it’s a little bit of a perception problem... But is this something the GOP can say in 2012— Barack Obama broke his pledge on? They’ll say it, I don’t know if it moves a lot of votes unless something else big about him breaking a transparency pledge enters into the equation.”

 

So what do you think? Are critics being fair? Should health care negotiations be more open, or have they been public enough?

 

 

Writer: Christina Hartman

Health Care: Transparency in Question

by Christina Hartman
0
Transcript
Jan 7, 2010

Health Care: Transparency in Question

(Thumbnail image: Double Dutch Politics)

 

President Obama, November 2007: “We will work on this process publicly. It will be on C-SPAN. It will be streaming over the net.”


Candidate Obama promised greater transparency on Capitol Hill, but some say President Obama isn’t delivering when it comes to health care negotiations.

 

We’re looking at perspectives from The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and The Huffington Post.

 

When it comes to reconciling the House and Senate versions of the health care bill, ping pong is the name of the game.  No, not table tennis.  It’s a strategy that scraps a formal conference committee in favor of closed-door meetings between Democratic leaders, effectively shutting out Republicans from the process.

 

Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren outlines her complaints.

 

“Here’s the problem is that we didn’t hear about the special deal that Nebraska got until after the fact. If we’d had cameras on the whole process—now I realize that’s not practical—but we would have at least seen it go down... We’d like to see it as it goes down, instead of having it shoved down our throats.”


In fact, C-SPAN CEO Brian Lamb has requested full camera access to the negotiations.

 

An op-ed in The Fort Worth Star-Telegram supports the proposal.

 

“Granted, the proceedings would not be considered must-see TV, but the C-SPAN sleep-inducing format nonetheless provides much-needed accountability. Given the Senate’s last-minute pork-barrel largesse to sway fence-sitting moderates before Christmas, the trust level is at low ebb.”


But The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein suggests critics might be forgetting something.

 

“… the criticism ignores recent history -- both Democrats and Republicans have sidestepped the formal conference committee process on many previous pieces of legislation and rarely did such a maneuver engender howls of protest.”


The advantage for Democrats in private negotiations is Republicans won't get the opportunity to stall the bill’s progress with filibusters.

 

On MSNBC, a Washington Post correspondent points out Democrats might have a good reason to rush.


“The reason we’ve heard this sense of urgency from the White House from the very beginning is that they understand the way that Washington works. We’ve seen the president’s political popularity in his polling numbers decline so that he has less political capital…They realize that the reality of Washington is if they don’t finish it up quickly, it may not get done.”


Finally, Chris Cillizza tells CNN’s Jessica Yellin that either way, the controversy won’t have lasting impact--at least not on the president.


“I think it’s a little bit of a perception problem... But is this something the GOP can say in 2012— Barack Obama broke his pledge on? They’ll say it, I don’t know if it moves a lot of votes unless something else big about him breaking a transparency pledge enters into the equation.”

 

So what do you think? Are critics being fair? Should health care negotiations be more open, or have they been public enough?

 

 

Writer: Christina Hartman

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