If By 'Transparent' You Mean 'Secret'...

The Patriot PostDigest · Friday, January 8, 2010

The Foundation "Public affairs go on pretty much as usual: perpetual chicanery and rather more personal abuse than there used to be..." --John Adams Government & Politics

If By 'Transparent' You Mean 'Secret'...

After much bribery and arm-twisting, the Senate managed just before Christmas to pass its version of ObamaCare by a 60-39 vote (amazingly, without a single GOP "aye"). Now, the bill heads for conference deliberation televised by C-SPAN, just as the cable channel offered and Barack Obama promised numerous times. Or not.

Democrats let slip this week that there would be no typical conference committee on the competing House and Senate versions of the health bill, as "leaders" opted instead for private negotiations with "key" congressmen and senators, none of whom is Republican. Once an agreement is reached, each legislative chamber will vote again and send the unified bill to the president.

Without a conference committee, a rule requiring public access to the conference report for at least 48 hours before a vote would conveniently not apply. That means even more liberty-stealing treachery can be slipped into the bill with little notice. Funny how the "public option" doesn't mean that the public gets to know what's in the bill.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) nevertheless had the gall to declare, "There has never been a more open process for any legislation in anyone who's served here's experience." In response, Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto mocked, "Has a more false or awkwardly worded statement ever come out of anyone who has served as speaker of the House's mouth?"

In spite of Democrats' best efforts at "transparency," there are many extra-special things that we actually do know about the bill. For example, on page 1,020, the Senate bill states: "It shall not be in order in the Senate or the House of Representatives to consider any bill, resolution, amendment or conference report that would repeal or otherwise change this subsection." In other words, the bill creates an eternal law by prohibiting future elected Congresses from making changes to this subsection.

What's in the subsection in question? The infamous "death panel" -- the Independent Medicare Advisory Board (IMAB), whose objective will be to "reduce the per capita rate of growth in Medicare spending" (read: to ration health care).

Meanwhile, the bill contains what amounts to a marriage penalty worth $2,000 or more in insurance premiums each year. The Wall Street Journal explains, "The disparity comes about in part because subsidies for purchasing health insurance under the plan from congressional Democrats are pegged to federal poverty guidelines. That has the effect of limiting subsidies for married couples with a combined income, compared to if the individuals are single."

Finally, Obama signaled this week that he's willing to break another campaign promise: The "no tax increases on the middle class" pledge. He threw his support behind the Senate's tax on higher end "Cadillac" insurance plans, something unions and House Democrats oppose.

The more the public learns about this continuing saga, the more vigorously opposed they become to "reform." No wonder Democrats want the process to remain secret.