The pressure is building on President Barack Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to open their closed-door health care negotiations to cameras, the media, and more importantly, the American public.
Most notably, Brian Lamb, the chief executive of C-SPAN, wrote a letter to congressional leaders asking them to allow cameras into health care negotiations.
The clarion call for transparency shouldn’t surprise President Obama. He promised to open health care negotiations when he campaigned for President and, in video included in a Fox News report, Obama couldn’t have been clearer in his desire to broadcast health care negotiations on C-SPAN:
In the Democrat’s January 31, 2008, presidential debate, Sen. Obama described the process by which he would bring about health care reform in America as: “not negotiating behind closed doors, but bringing all parties together, and broadcasting those negotiations on C-SPAN so that the American people can see what the choices are.”
That must have been an important point for him, judging by the fact that he repeated it seven months later on August 21, 2008:
We’ll have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents and who are making arguments no behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies.
Even The New York Times dug into its archives and reported on other instances where candidate Obama promised transparency:
At a visit to Google in 2007, Mr. Obama noted that the Clintons had made a mistake in the early 1990s by designing their health care plan “in isolation from the American people.”
“We will work on this process publicly,” he added. “It will be on C-Span. It will be streaming over the Net.”
At another point during the campaign, Mr. Obama argued that if a member of Congress was “carrying water for the drug companies,” for example, television coverage would expose it. “You can shame Congress into doing the right thing if people know what’s going on,” he said.
When pressed on the transparency issue yesterday (and on President Obama’s campaign promises), Speaker Pelosi had some thoughts on candidate Obama’s vows: “There are a number of things he was for on the campaign trail.”
How’s that for a fresh breath of honesty?
And what did the President’s spokesman have to say about letting some sunlight into the back-room negotiations? White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says he has not seen the C-SPAN letter, but opined: “I do not believe the American people have lacked for information on what’s in these bills.”
But why not let the American people have ALL the information?