by Countable | 6.20.17
Should Lawmakers Have the Leeway to Craft Proposed Laws in Private?
That's the buzz in Washington this week, about a new health care proposal; a GOP plan to "repeal and replace" Obamacare. No, not the Republican-sponsored bill that eked through the House of Representatives a few weeks ago without a single vote from Democrats, but a version being crafted right now in the Senate.
Here's what's gotten some people angry: Senate Republicans writing this proposal have not held a single hearing, released any preliminary summary of ideas, or even alluded to the possible contents of their bill. Their process in building this proposal has been entirely closed.
This has raised the ire of Democrats, predictably, who are anxious to preserve Obamacare and its "gains," as they see it. Democratic leaders are crying foul, saying the Senate GOP's "repeal and replace" proposal should be crafted in full view of the public, if it is to have any legitimacy.
For their part, Senate Republican leaders point to the problems that could come of opening the process -- the constant nit-picking scrutiny and political spin that would certainly overtake any public negotiations over a new health care bill. To craft a reasonable plan, the GOP says, they must negotiate its details behind closed doors -- at least for now.
These arguments -- on both sides -- are strikingly familiar. It was only a few short years ago that Democrats, in the majority of both the House and the Senate, went behind closed doors to negotiate the deal that put Obamacare in place. And it was a Republican outcry at the lack of transparency that ultimately began the party's push for "repeal and replace."
Now, it should be a surprise to exactly no one that each party argues their own side in any political debate, no matter the hypocrisy that accumulates over time.
The more important question is this: no matter the party in charge, do you think major legislation should be crafted and molded in the light of public scrutiny? Or do you believe lawmakers should have leeway to incubate an idea before they release it to the wider public?
Comment here, and hit the Take Action button to tell your Senators what you think!
-- Andrea Seabrook, Countable Managing Editor
Written by Countable
John and Jeff - as my elected representatives in the Senate, I would like to give you some direct feedback regarding the Pending Trumpcare vote, but since this far-reaching, impactful law is being crafted in secret, I don't know what is in it! The lack of transparency is really frightening to me. That said, all I have to work from is the terrible House version that Trent and his peers passed. (1) Do not use Trumpcare as a too to provide tax cuts to the richest Americans. (2) Do not repeal Obamacare - just fix it, like Congress has done with every other major piece of legislation over the past century. (3) Move toward a single-payer model since that works for ALL OTHER OECD countries, providing universal coverage at lower cost per capita and better outcomes. (4) Do not eliminate coverage for 20+million Americans; we are the richest country in history, and that would not be consistent with our values. (5) Do not increase medical costs for seniors or the poor. (6) Ensure that medical costs cease to be the number one cause of personal bankruptcy in the US. (7) Serve the people who elected you - not special interests of the medical industry. (9) Expand Medicare and Medicaid - do not eliminate or reduce funding!
This is outrageous. The flagrant disregard being shown for the American people and the rule of law should be concerning to every single American. Shame on us all.
Hiding any bill, let alone one connected to approximately 1/6 of the economy and literally decides the health of millions of Americans, is antithetical to the democratic process. What is the GOP hiding? All sorts of goodies for the insurance companies, for the pharmaceutical companies, and monumental tax breaks for their rich funders?
The secrecy with which Senate Republicans are crafting their healthcare bill leads me to believe that it is indeed being crafted by insurance executives and other members of ALEC to rip off consumers and enrich the insurance execs, participating politicians and the top 2%. Any law of this magnitude should have long periods of debate, input from the medical profession in a public forum and be thoroughly examined by actuaries to determine the costs to consumers and government. We should know how many people will be covered at a truly affordable cost and that preexisting conditions cannot be used to turn down coverage or make it more expensive.
Public scrutiny is exactly how better bills are formed.
Absolutely not! We the public demand to know what our law markers are working on. Legislation should be open to input and debate from all.
I've urged my representatives to not vote for this bill for the following reasons: (a) it hasn't been made public, (b) no debate has occurred, nor does it appear much time will be allowed for debate and (c) it risks throwing off, denying, etc.. millions of people. The Senate is supposed to be a deliberative house and as such, it's their job to slow the process down, carefully review all options and make the best decisions for the benefit of ALL Americans; not just corporations and the wealthy; with an eye always towards the less fortunate. Republicans cried foul in 2009 when they felt Democrats were crafting legislation in secret. Whether that was true or not is irrelevant now. As the old saying goes, "two wrongs don't make a right". With nothing less than 1/6th of the nation's economy on the line, I beseech the Senate do the right thing; say NO to this bill, work with Democrats on repairing what's broken in the ACA in order for all American's to have a better, healthier, life. It's our responsibility as citizens of this great nation to voice our objections and make our voices heard loud and clear. Contact your rep today!
Seven years ago, Republicans were complaining about Obamacare negotiations, although Democrats held a number of bipartisan hearings and markups, a White House summit and President Barack Obama even addressed the GOP caucus. They were often tweeting their disgust at what they alleged was “backroom deal-making”. In 2010, current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said: "Democrats on Capitol Hill are working behind the scenes on a plan aimed at jamming this massive health spending bill through Congress against the clear wishes of an unsuspecting public." Trump's HHS Services Secretary Tom Price, then representing Georgia's 6th Congressional District, said Democrats were "sacrificing the trust of the American people." Discussing the handling of legislative matters behind closed doors, Sen. John Cornyn, who is now the Majority Whip, said, "I think it's a perilous - indeed, dangerous - way for us to do business." "If you rush this thing through before anybody even knows what it is, that's not good democracy," Paul Ryan said in 2009. [CNN] The list goes on. Hypocrisy, thy name is GOP. Sen. John McCain yesterday even agreed with many Democrats that the secrecy encompassing the Republican plan is hypocritical. Asked by CNN's Manu Raju if he was satisfied by the current process, McCain said no. "We used to complain like hell when the Democrats ran the Affordable Care Act," he said. "Now, we're doing the same thing." How long will you stand with the party over the country? This is shameful. Please, tell Mitch McConnell: “Either pursue health care in a legitimate way or we won’t vote for it.” Stand up for the American people. Thank you.
The ACA had 48 hearings with multiple amendments. Trumpcare bill by Senate with ZERO hearings. Senator Todd Young you know that is total hogwash and unacceptable. Stand up!!
I would like to see the CBO on this travesty. It is unconscionable that this is being written and tweaked in secret. WE WILL REMEMBER THIS IN T-503 days.
No proposed laws should be made without the public knowing everything. This should NEVER happen!!!
I am no more appreciative of plans and programs written behind closed doors that directly impact the personal well being of me and my family than any member of congress would be. Republicans should remember that for every vengeful action they take they are not spitting in the faces of their Democratic counterparts, they are spitting in mine and the faces of every member of the American public. Governing through spitefulness serves no one.
It is outrageous that we the people are kept in the dark on this important bill
Transparency in our government is vital for a free democracy. As tacpayers we have a right and responsibility to be informed on potential laws that will impact our lives. Actions done in secret often disguise a hidden agenda.
We need transparency in government. Crafting a bill that does not represent me or the rights of women like me is unjust and a violation of our needs. Please demand transparency. This bill cannot be allowed to pass until the public has viewed the said bill. You work for us. Demand better. Push. Hold the floor. Do what you must buy do no let this pass
Take a look at US News & World Report's article of Feb. 28, 2017 on Health Care Outcomes in States Influenced by coverage, Disparities. Kentucky, McConnell's state, ranks 44 in overall healthcare & 35 in education. Georgia 38 in healthcare & 37 in education. Ga is one of the 19 states that didn't expand Medicaid under the law. Our GOP Senators will undoubtedly support any draconian bill offered leaving more Georgians fighting for survival in a hostile, non insurable climate. Some of them, hearty supporters of Trump, may find themselves uninsured. The secrecy held over one of the most important issues to Americans, tells me their intentions are not to assure a healthier population but one that is crippled by costs, access, and delivery. Make no mistake, your elected representatives will not suffer the loss. Children who are malnourished & ill cannot perform to their potential; hence a vicious cycle of poor educational performance...America is operating out of spite & self-serving interests.
This is not democracy.
It's not healthcare at all, it's the reduction of benefits to help provide tax cuts for rich executives
Whether a party crafts a bill in private or public, it should be available for plenty of congressional discussion and input from the public before it comes to a vote.
Republicans clearly have no desire to better healthcare - if they did they would have had a bill ready and waiting, they would have had well thought out ideas and amendments. This scrambling they're doing in private is not an attempt at a better healthcare plan. It's an attempt at removing any signs of the Democratic Party in public policy before the political pendulum they so wildly set into motion swings back the other way. Elected officials need to remember that their number one priority is their constituents and any other prerogative they develop reeks of corruption. There's no bill that can make politicians practice integrity, so the best we can do is watch their every movement until they do.