President Barack Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) are planning plenty of health care action in closed-door meetings at the White House today, but there are no lights or cameras.
Now, C-SPAN is calling for the latter.
In a letter to congressional leadership dated December 30, 2009, C-SPAN wrote:
As your respective chambers work to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate health care bills, C-SPAN requests that you open all important negotiations, including any conference committee meetings, to electronic media coverage.
C-SPAN noted that it is willing to commit resources to cover all negotiations and that, to date, it has televised hundreds of hours of committee hearings for public access. More importantly, the network called on the President and congressional leadership to live up to their commitment to transparency:
President Obama, Senate and House leaders, many of your rank-and-file members, and the nation’s editorial pages have all talked about the value of transparent discussions on reforming the nation’s health care system. Now that the process moves to the critical stage of reconciliation between the Chambers, we respectfully request that you allow the public full access, through television, to legislation that will affect the lives of every single American.
Even the mainstream media are picking up on this salient point. From an ABC News report:
The C-SPAN television network is calling on congressional leaders to open health care talks to cameras — something President Barack Obama promised as a candidate.
Instead the most critical negotiations on Obama’s health plan have taken place behind closed doors, as Republicans repeatedly point out…
Obama pledged during a presidential debate in January 2008 that he would be “bringing all parties together, and broadcasting those negotiations on C-SPAN so that the American people can see what the choices are.”
It’s high time he kept his pledge.