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Friday, January 15, 2010

What goes on behind closed doors

Emerging from yet another closed-door negotiating session with President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stressed that healthcare overhaul legislation must pass the tests of health insurance premium "affordability" and insurance company "accountability". She missed the obvious irony that the legislative process and the legislation itself fail both tests.
Eight times during his campaign, Mr. Obama pledged a new era of accountability and transparency by promising to televise healthcare negotiation meetings on C-SPAN. Yet to date, the White House and Congressional leadership have banned cameras, media, independent observers, and any other possibilities of public accountability from their closed-door negotiations. Posers can easily slip into state dinners at the White House, but credentialed media are blocked from observing for the American people the healthcare negotiations that will impact one-sixth of our economy.
That's because behind closed mahogany doors, lawmakers have been cutting deals that bust the budget with political pork payoffs such as the nine-figure "Louisiana Purchase" and "Cornhusker Kickback"—political bribes given to secure the votes of holdout Senators Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Now a desperate White House has bought off union bosses, in the process ballooning the healthcare bill cost by $60 billion.
Healthcare affordability can be achieved not with new socialistic taxes and draconian penalties, but with targeted government subsidies for the poor, funded by cost-saving preventive medicine, tort reform and fraud prosecution. Accountability can be achieved simply by opening the doors to these secret meetings so we the people can witness firsthand how politicians plan to spend our money.

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