In 2008, I am certain that you recall the promises of hope and change by then Candidate Barack Obama, as he was seeking the Presidency and by the Democrats in Congress. Both Obama and the Democrat leadership in Congress also promised transparency within the legislative process. Now, that Obama is President of the United States and the Democrats are in power, this has all but dissipated. With the health care debates looming in Congress, there are more indications that the American people will not be able to see the legislators discuss in their conference proceedings about what will be included in the final plan. Instead, we will be left in the dark wondering what will become of our current health care system.
A couple days ago, C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb sent a letter to the Democratic leadership and Obama citing his concerns about the lack of openness, as well as petitioning to allow the American people to witness these proceedings. Did the Democratic leadership consider Lamb’s requests? No. Instead, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the leadership held a press conference yesterday to say that they were not certain whether cameras would be allowed in to the meetings or if there would be an open conference meeting. Meanwhile, Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have been meeting behind closed doors to iron out the details, thus bypassing the mandatory conference meetings required for a final version of the bill.
The Democrats in Congress, as well as President Obama, should remember one key thing. When you make promises to the American people to hold open meetings, then expect to receive some harsh feedback when you fail to meet those promises. It is all about accountability.