Three Questions for the Congressional Leadership
Washington, DC: Are you "open," "honest," and "ethical"? These three questions to the Congressional leadership form the crux of a new paper released today by the National Center for Public Policy Research in Washington.
The paper, "Bad Faith & Broken Promises: Accountability and Transparency Casualties of Health Care Debate," by policy analyst Matt Patterson, asks House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:
* Is it "honest" to hide the true cost of your legislation with budgetary gimmicks in which three years of new taxes precede the bulk of the spending, making your program seem more affordable than it really is in an artificial budgetary window?
* Is it "open" for the Congressional leadership to "secretly craft the final bill behind closed doors," far from the prying eyes of the press, the public, and the rest of Congress, or to have important procedural votes in the middle of the night, or pass critical legislation on Christmas Eve, when most sane people are blissfully distracted from the machinations on Capitol Hill?
* Is it "ethical" to buy the votes of recalcitrant members of your caucus with hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars in backroom deals, such as "the inclusion of $100-$300 million in added federal aid for Medicaid recipients in Louisiana, the home state of Sen. Mary Landrieu," in return for her vote, or the offer to Senator Ben Nelson of "a permanent exemption from the state share of Medicaid expansion" for his home state of Nebraska, in exchange for his vote?
"Despite promises made by Congressional leaders, they have shepherded health care legislation through Congress in a manner that is demonstrably secretive, unethical and dishonest," says Patterson. "Promise after promise made by the Congressional leadership to conduct an open, bi-partisan process to reform health care has been shamelessly broken. It's really quite astounding; Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barack Obama, don't even try to pretend to hold to their many and frequent promises to conduct open and fair negotiations to reform American health care."
Patterson concludes: "The question we have to ask ourselves is: Why have they done this in secret? What is it about this process that they don't want the public, the press, or even fellow members of Congress to see?"
The paper, "Bad Faith & Broken Promises: Accountability and Transparency Casualties of Health Care Debate," is available online at http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA596.html at the National Center for Public Policy Research website.
The National Center for Public Policy Research is a conservative, free-market think-tank established in 1982. It receives less than 1% of its revenue from corporations.