Recall Barack Obama’s campaign pledge that he wouldn’t sign any non-emergency legislation passed by Congress until after it has been posted on the web for five days. On February 5, barely two weeks after the Democrat had been sworn in as President, Politico reported that he had broken that pledge when he signed SCHIP legislation “barely three hours after the House approved the bill.”
Reporter Carrie Budoff Brown contrasted the speed of that signing with the text of his campaign promise:
“Too often bills are rushed through Congress and to the president before the public has the opportunity to review them,” the Obama-Biden campaign website states. “As president, Obama will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days.”
Well, Senate Democrats seem to be following in the President’s footsteps. They don’t want to give the public the opportunity to review health care legislation before their elected representatives vote on it. “The Senate Finance Committee just voted down a GOP amendment requiring that Obamacare legislation be available online 72 hours before the panel votes.” Democrats opposing the amendment called it “a delay tactic that could have postponed a vote for weeks,” refusing, in JammieWearingFool’s words “to even let the public see what they plan to ram down our throats.” (H/t Instapundit.)
What’s fascinating is that
. . the only version of Chairman Max Baucus’s proposal we have is a 223-page draft (PDF) that is written in plain English and explains the bill in conceptual terms. Republicans argued that until the bill is written in legislative language it will be impossible for the CBO to provide an accurate cost estimate.
Senator Jim Bunning’s (R-KY) amendment “would have required the committee to have the legislative language of the bill, along with the CBO cost estimate, posted on the internet for 72 hours before a vote.” And it takes time to draft that language, but it’s necessary for proper CBO scoring. And John Kerry whines, “Let’s be honest about it, most people don’t read the legislative language.” So, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee just wants to keep people in the dark about the precise details and the actual cost?
But, there’s still hope that Congress will act in the spirit of the President’s (neglected) campaign promise:
. . . a bipartisan group of House members is trying to force the Democratic leadership to change the rules so that any bill must be made public for 72 hours before members vote on it.
Reps. Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Brian Baird, D-Wash., are collecting the signatures of House members and if they get 218, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., will have to schedule an up or down vote on implementing the three-day rule.
It might be difficult for Walden and Baird to collect the necessary signatures, especially given the reluctance of Democrats to sign onto something which would earn them the ire of the House’s Democratic leadership. Kudos to them for trying.
Still, it’s striking how quickly Democrats have returned to the old politics Obama so decried on the campaign trail last fall. If he were really committed to a new kind of politics, he would call on Senate Democrats to reverse their vote and support the Bunning amendment and encourage House members to sign on to Walden and Baird’s petition.
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