Saturday, January 9, 2010

Business as Usual

Some things never change.

Candidate Barrack Obama said over and over and over it was time for change. He promised he would bring transparency back to government. He promised that the health care reform legislation would be on C-Span so everyone could see who was voting for their constituents and who was be paid off by drug companies.

I remember candidate Obama appearing in Des Moines with Oprah. Everyone was excited. Change. Fresh air in Washington. Accountability. People would be heard. No more business as usual.

The Senate and the House of Representatives have each passed a version of health care reform. Now the two bills need to be reconciled so one bill can be presented to the President.

Normally there is a conference committee of leaders from each house and there are hearings. Representatives from both the Senate and the House have an opportunity to present arguments and make recommendations as to how the two bills can be consolidated. This process is not fast but it is thorough and allows for differing positions to be discussed.

President Obama and the Democratic majority want to get health care reform passed quickly. Thus, they have decided to reconcile the two major bills informally -- that means behind closed doors. Because they have the votes they can pretty much do what they want. The law does not require a conference committee to be convened to reconcile the two bills.

Unfortunately, going behind closed doors means deals will be made to buy votes. Yesterday California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger made reference to a deal made between the White House and Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson. He said "Nebraska got the corn and we got the husk." (Nebraska is known as the cornhusker state.)

Even though the White House has decided to reconcile the House and Senate bills via an informal process, that process could still be broadcast on C-Span. That would be in keeping with the promises made during the campaign.

Going behind closed doors to hash out back room deals in secret is not very transparent. Then again, maybe it is.

Maybe we are learning that President Obama, despite all his promises, is really no different than any other politican. I am not angry, as I am a realist. But I am disappointed. I had hoped for better. I had hoped for change.

Thanks for stopping by.


Jo said...

I read an interesting quote in the New Yorker last night:

"How did the candidate who told a stadium of supporters in Denver that 'the greatest risk we can take is to try the same old politics with the same old players and expect a different result' become the President who has surrounded himself with the same old players trying the same old politics, expecting a different result?"

A recent Gallup poll shows Americans now favor Hillary Clinton over Barrack Obama. Interesting.

As a Canadian watching American politics from across the border here in Canada, I am not surprised by anything. Your last sentence sums it up nicely.

Boise Diva said...

To add my official political comment: no comment :)

Leslie: said...

I agree with Jo - neither of us felt Obama was any different from any other politician, and perhaps even worse.

Small City Scenes said...

I had hoped that what I heard was going to be good. I feel sad and we all know that 'behind closed doors' is not good for any image.
Nice post.
I do think that--good bad or indifferent--we need to try to stand behind our President--It's all we have til next vote.

Russell said...

I agree -- we do need to stand behind and with our President. I voted for Mr. Obama and I think he will do a nice job for us overall. In fact, I expect and hope he will get another 4 years.

The point I was trying to make was that I was disappointed the Senate and House bills will be reconciled behind closed doors. I do not like that process.

My guess is that President Obama would like to have seen the entire process done in the open. However, he was probably told by his advisers that if there is any hope of reaching an agreement, it has to be done this way.

Take care.