A Philosopher's Blog

Health Care Reform Behind Closed Doors

Posted in Politics by Michael LaBossiere on October 21, 2009
Max Baucus, U.S. Senator from Montana.

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When Obama was running for office, he spoke about how he would handle health care reform: “I’m going to have all the negotiations around a big table,” and it all would be “televised on C-SPAN, so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents and who are making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies.”

As they say, that was then and this is now. Now, Reid, Baucus and Dodd are meeting in private to hash out health care. It might be around a big table, but there will be no C-SPAN or any access allowed to the general public. Naturally, various excuses have been given as to why this will be handled in secrecy.

Naturally, there can be legitimate grounds for secret meetings. If , for example, matters of national security are being discussed by Senators and a leak could actually be harmful to the people of the United States, then such a meeting should be secret.

In the case of the health care reform, there is clearly no such justification of secrecy. In this case, I would infer that the folks choosing to take action in secret are doing so because what would be revealed to the people would be more damaging than the fact that the president is breaking his word.

While I can only speculate on what is happening behind the closed doors, I would suspect that it is the usual thing that politicians do behind closed doors. No, not cheat on their wives. Rather, it might be the case that they are working on various dirty deals that that would outrage many people.

Since Obama promised an open process and there seems to be no legitimate reason for such secrecy, what is being done is simply not acceptable. This process should be out in the open, with the full light of public scrutiny upon it.

Yes, I do know that politics is all about secret deals and back room machinations. But, obviously enough, this sort of behavior allows and encourages corruption and misdeeds. I was critical about the secrecy in the Bush administration and consistency requires that I apply the same criticism to what is happening under Obama. It is far past the time when we should demand proper openness in our government. The Bush administration made it quite clear what can happen in the darkness. While the Obama administration will probably commit different sins, keeping a light in things can help keep that sinning down to a minimum.

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4 Responses

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  1. biomass2 said, on October 21, 2009 at 10:45 am

    A typical presidential hopeful. Obama created some expectations that he likely had no intentions of even trying to fulfill. Can we forget Bush’s “compassionate conservatism”? And Bush made no promises about openness so any closed door meetings with energy companies, if they did occur, would have been easily excused.

    Unfortunately, Obama was campaigning as an “atypical” candidate for the role of Leader of the Free World. He would have been better served by campaigning as an “atypical and pragmatic” candidate, limiting most of his campaign promises to a simple general promise: “I won’t be like George Bush.” That would have been sufficient for a win over the opposing ticket. And later he or his spokesmen could weasel around the distinctions after the fact. Oops! That would make him too much like Bush, Clinton, Nixon, etc.

    The problem is the “width” of the gap between appearance (in this case claims/promises) and reality. The fellow who votes for every piece of anti-gay legislation that crosses his desk then gets caught with another fellow tapping out signals in a public restroom stall is headed for trouble. The professed Christian who fights for the FMA then gets caught cheating on his wife (whether she’s dying or not) is just begging to be punished–here, by his peers, and in his afterlife. And what can you say about the guy who runs the Ways and Means Committee cheats on his taxes (by accident?). Now there’s a chasm that requires immediate Congressional attention and doesn’t seem readily repairable.

    On the other hand, if you create no expectations and the reality turns out to be unsatisfactory you’ve only left a crack that’s relatively easy to patch over.

  2. T. J. Babson said, on October 21, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Everything Obama says has an expiration date.

    • biomass2 said, on October 21, 2009 at 6:20 pm

      And everything Bush said. . . .
      Oh, the hell with it.

  3. T. J. Babson said, on October 24, 2009 at 7:22 am

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