Keep Out: Despite Obama's C-SPAN Pledges, American Public Shut Out of Health Care Talks | Speaker.gov

Live at 11:30am ET: Speaker Ryan's Weekly Press Conference → speaker.gov/live

For days now, a small group of Democrats in Congress and members of the Obama Administration have been meeting behind closed doors on Capitol Hill to hammer out the details of their costly government takeover of health care. This is despite President Obama’s repeated pledges on the campaign trail last year that these discussions would be open and televised. One Capitol Hill newspaper has called these secret talks “a slap at … the taxpayers who will be asked to foot the bill for whatever reform plan does get adopted.” Now Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) has introduced a resolution demanding that these critical negotiations be conducted in the open “under the watchful eye of the American people.” With the fate of one-sixth of our economy in the balance, anything less than full transparency is unacceptable.

House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) praised Rep. Buchanan’s resolution, which is one of a series of aggressive initiatives congressional Republicans are pushing to make Congress more transparent and accountable: 

“President Obama repeatedly said on the campaign trail last year that when we got to this part of the process he’d invite the C-SPAN cameras in so the American people could see how health care reform was coming together. Instead, both the House and Senate are crafting this government takeover of health care behind closed doors.

“President Obama should demand Congress make good on his promises of full transparency and support Rep. Vern Buchanan’s resolution demanding health care negotiations be subject to public scrutiny. It’s time Congress change to become more transparent and accountable to the people it serves.”
 

RHETORIC – CANDIDATE OBAMA REPEATEDLY PROMISED OPEN, TELEVISED HEALTH CARE NEGOTIATIONS:

November 2007: “We are going to have a big table, and everybody is going to be invited, labor, employers, doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, patient advocate groups. The drug and insurance companies, they’ll all get a seat at the table. … And we will work on this process publicly. It’ll be on C-SPAN. It will be streaming over the ‘Net.” (Town hall meeting with Google employees, Mountain View, CA, 11/14/07)

January 2008: “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.” (Democratic presidential debate, 1/31/08)

March 2008: “But here’s the difference: I’m going to do it all on C-SPAN so that the American people will know what’s going on.” (Town hall meeting, Lancaster, PA, 3/31/08)

August 2008: “When I come together around this health care system, I’m going to do it all in the open. I’m going to do it on C-SPAN.” (Town hall meeting, Albuquerque, NM, 8/18/08)

August 2008: “I’m going to have all the negotiations around a big table. … We’ll have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN.” (Town hall meeting, Chester, VA, 8/21/08)

REALITY – “PROMISE BROKEN,” “ANYTHING BUT REVOLUTIONARY,” DEALS “STRUCK IN SECRET:”

Politifact.com Says “Promise Broken.” “Obama promised — repeatedly — an end to closed-door negotiations and complete openness for the health care talks. But he hasn’t delivered. Instead of open talks of C-SPAN, we’ve gotten more of the same — talks behind closed doors at the White House and Congress. … We rate this Promise Broken.” (Politifact.com, 7/10/09)

“The Secrecy Of The Proceedings … Is Disturbing.” “All of a sudden, we don’t know what’s being done — or when, or by whom. …[T]he secrecy of the proceedings, particularly given where we’ve come from in the previous few months, is disturbing — as is the lack of diversity in voices shaping the final product. There are no Republicans in the room. If any other Members of Congress have been invited to participate, we’ll never know it. …[T]he sudden silence from the Senate seems like a slap at all the stakeholders who have invested so much in the health care debate — not to mention the taxpayers who will be asked to foot the bill for whatever reform plan does get adopted.” (Roll Call editorial, 10/21/09)

“Closed Negotiations … Anything But Revolutionary.” “But now, as a Senate vote on health-care legislation nears, those negotiations are occurring in a setting that is anything but revolutionary in Washington: Three senators are working on the bill behind closed doors.” (The Washington Post, 10/18/09)

“The Big Deals Have Been Struck in Secret.” “Obama campaign vow of public debate on health care fading. Campaigning for president, Barack Obama said repeatedly that any overhaul of the health care system should be negotiated publicly and televised for all to see. Throughout this year’s negotiations, however, the big deals have been struck in secret. … The notion of televising negotiations behind a health care revamp was so central to Obama’s campaign promises of change and openness … that it became part of his stump speech as he traveled the country in 2007 and 2008.” (McClatchy, 7/10/09)