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  • Fourth Quarter Blackout

    Imagine watching the biggest game of the year—the Super Bowl—only to have the broadcast cut off as the fourth quarter begins.

    The same outrage should apply to President Obama’s broken promise to have C-SPAN televise the entirety of health care negotiations. Just as we reach the crucial moment–the final resolution between the House, the Senate and the White House–public access goes black.

    (For those who remember, it’s like 1968 when NBC provoked outrage when it broke away from a critical game between the New York Jets and the Oakland Raiders to air a showing of “Heidi.”)

    Presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs tried to laugh off today’s controversy, telling reporters the President’s broken promise doesn’t matter because we’ve already had a “thorough, robust, two-year debate on health care” as the bill moved through committee and each house of Congress.

    But what about the decisive part of the game—the fourth quarter—when America’s most powerful politicians meet with each other and with special interests to resolve major differences? That’s the most important part—the part that Americans most need and deserve to see.

    If we cannot trust officials to keep a simple promise about openness, how can we possibly trust what they’ll do behind closed doors? Whether Congress uses a formal conference committee, a “ping-pong” process or any other, Obama’s broad promise encompasses all methods of crafting the final version of the bill.

    President Obama could refuse to participate in backroom dealings, forcing Congress to accept C-SPAN’s offer to televise the dealings. And these must not be token meetings just for show, with the real deals being cut elsewhere.

    We should not be distracted by arguing whether Speaker Nancy Pelosi is right or wrong in claiming “there has never been a more open process on any legislation.” Whether you agree or disagree, it’s no excuse for cutting off openness at its most important time.

    Does anyone believe that big interests won’t get their voices heard in the backrooms—as Obama pledged to prevent? CNN reports the AARP wants to protect its hundreds of millions in annual insurance premiums in exchange for supporting the bill. Stories abound about special deals for Pharma and the American Medical Association, which they’ll want to protect in private meetings. And the labor unions have a major interest and want a major voice.

    And don’t forget the sweetheart deals for Nebraska, Louisiana, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Vermont and others, to buy votes of key senators.

    What did Obama promise to all of us? ‘That’s what I will do in bringing all parties together, 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, because part of what we have to do is enlist the American people in this process,’ Obama said at a debate in Los Angeles on Jan. 31, 2008.

    He repeated this on-camera at least eight times in campaigning for the White House.

    It’s no excuse to say Americans have already witnessed the pre-game show, the warmups, and the first three quarters. Now it’s crunch time. This is no time to pull the plug on the people’s right to know; it’s time to learn who can be trusted to keep their word.

    Posted in Obamacare [slideshow_deploy]

    13 Responses to Fourth Quarter Blackout

    1. Thomas , Arkansas says:

      Once again,

      HE LIED !!

    2. Carol, Oklahoma City says:

      I think it would be a good idea to allow the hearings to be on CSPAN. I think there is still way too much confusion concerning the healthcare proposal and the more exposure to the public, the more opportunity we will have to understand it.

    3. Claudia Rocus says:

      This is breaking news folks ————–there is no, I said no, that is spelled N O breaking news!!!!!!!!

    4. Fred, Oklahoma says:

      IMO the integrity of this sitting President is on the line here. The "transparency" subject was one of the main talking points during his campaign, for him to break that promise, so soon, speaks volumes.

      Joe Wilson must have known what he was talking about…

    5. Dr. Carole Hardeman says:

      Why can't you people stop exercising your tremendous capacity for hatred and support the President of the United States in his quest to provide leadership for our country? In your determination to support such persons as Limbaugh, Palin, Beck and Cheney, you seem to forget that Obama won by a huge majority, and most Americans admire and support this brilliant young president! Get over it.

    6. Bobbie Jay says:

      For those who want to argue, Bush did the same thing "behind closed doors," remember what the result was. WRONG!

      One thing about our President Bush, he didn't specify in any articulate way, "transparency."

      Another thing about President Bush, he did what an honorable man of America would and took the measures necessary to keep this country safe.

    7. Vicki - OKC says:

      Bate & switch: Underwear bomber & HC coverup. What do you think, we're stupid? What a bunch of idiots. Boot um out.

    8. Jackie says:

      I wish all the White House correspondents would just not show up one day…. or all turn their backs to him and not ask one question

    9. Martha, Oklahoma says:

      Are we really told anything that goes on anyway? And should we find out anything worthwhile, do we have any say in it like the lobbyists? I think not.

    10. Mary,Cleveland, OH says:

      What a shame this president is doing to our country and the American people. He has lied so much. Shame on him.

    11. Betzy, OK says:

      This may be semantics but the American people are charged with supporting America (I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States and to the Republic for which it stands) and the President serves at the will of the American people. He serves ALL the people, not just those of one party or those that voted for him.

      If President Obama pledged transparency, he owes all of the American people the same. "That’s what I will do in bringing all parties together, 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, because part of what we have to do is enlist the American people in this process."

      The changes being propose will affect every American and will be one of the most significant bills this nation has ever passed. The costs will be beared by many of us as well as our children and theirs beyond. To be less than transparent would be a travesty to this great Nation. If Pres. Obama is truly brillent, then he knows and will demand the C-SPAN coverage. He has to have the buy-in of all parties to be successful or there could be a revolt (not necessarily with arms) but refusal to participate in some form or fashion.

    12. Alan, Nashville TN says:

      Dr. Hardeman,

      I am more libertarian than conservative…so throw the conservatives you mentioned out the window and pretend they don't exist. They don't in my world.

      If Obama was providing leadership, he would proudly, perhaps defiantly, ensure these hearings be televised on C-Span and would probably be lobbying for the major networks to carry it. If he was that sure he was right, and the idea of nationalized health care was so good it would sell itself, why not?

      Instead, we have this…closed doors. Democrats lining up to retire early. A fundamental shift of 1/7 of the economy, and the American people are locked out of the proceedings. This is suspect, shameful, and below the standards we should expect. To justify a lockout of the voters because they might not like what they see is pathetic.

    13. Goldie Carlson, Okla says:

      I am so sick of Obama and the current Congress!!!

      Recently, we were driving through Texas when our GPS system got us lost. As we drove through the country in Austin County, many driveways displayed the Texas flag on one side of the driveway and the Confederate flag on the other side. I'm not the only one sick of the situation!

      We are about to lose this great nation to a President (the Messiah) a bunch of Czars, and a run-away Congress who want to subjugate the American people. I hope November is not too late to keep our Constitution intact!

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