In the last couple of weeks I have read several commentaries, editorials and posts denouncing the process chosen by the Republicans in the senate to write their bill to Repeal and Replace in secret. Today I read a complaint that it was wrong for male lawmakers to decide the fate of health insurance for females without consulting “experts” in public hearings.
I’m not willing to say that the process chosen by Mitch McConnell is either right or wrong. However, it is the way things are. To put it in the form of a sports interview, “It is what it is.”
CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE HEARINGS
It is time for those upset by senate lack of transparency to review the history of Obamacare. In 2009 there were 3 public hearings held in the House of Representatives and one in the Senate. They resulted in nothing and were nothing more than political theater.
Party leadership ignored everything that was said and done in those committee meetings. It was the legal right of congress to waste time and tax-payer’s money to hold those public hearings and ignore them. However, in my opinion, it was, at best, morally questionable.
After the PPACA was approved by the senate I understood that I had wasted several hours watching & listening to DC lawmakers pontificate on what health insurance law would look like.
GANG OF SIX
After those hearings ended, the senate leadership formed a bi-partisan “Gang of Six” to allegedly reach a compromise on the future of health insurance. Members of the “Gang of Six” met behind closed doors. Once again Democratic party leadership ignored them.
HARRY REID AND THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT
When a consensus could not be reached by the “Gang of Six”, Harry Reid, then the Majority Leader, secreted himself in his office while he wrote, what was to become, Obamacare. He then called for a vote on the Patient’s Protection and Affordable Care Act in the Senate less than a week after he wrote it. It was adopted along party lines 60-40. There was not one Republican who agreed to it.
NANCY PELOSI ACTIONS
After the first of 2010, Nancy Pelosi ignored all 3 of the public hearings that were held in the prior year regarding the future of health insurance. She called for a vote in the House of Representatives to adopt the legislation that came from the Senate. This vote passed with no Republican votes in the House and against the will of several “blue-dog” Democrats.
It may not be the best way to create a piece of legislation but the precedent for creating federal health insurance law in secret, without public hearings, was set by Harry Reid in 2009. Those who are so vocal in their opposition are doing nothing more than demonstrating the same frustration with congress we conservatives had when Obamacare was forced on the nation in 2010. Liberals are only being treated with the same lack of respect they treated conservatives 8 years ago.
Personally, I think that the strategy of secrecy used by the Democrats in 2009 and the Republicans in 2017 may have been the correct strategy. However, it was not particularly popular with the curious American people.
Over the last 8 years, it seemed like every time someone said something in opposition to Obamacare, before they were even finished speaking someone from the opposition was attacking both the idea that was being presented and the intelligence of the individual who dared to think differently than they did. Holding their committee meetings in private sheltered them from the media attacks of the last 8 years. It allowed them to draft a plan without interruption.
The DRAFT legislation that they presented allows public comment before a vote is taken in the senate. If there is a logical reason for something to be changed, there is still time to contact your senator and allow him to propose an amendment on the senate floor if the proposal makes sense to that senator.
Sadly, that option was not provided to the public by Harry Reid in 2009. The bill he wrote in secret was passed just days after he presented it to the senate. The thousand page legislation was only made available to senators for a few days before it was voted on and a DRAFT was never made available to the public to comment on. Harry Reid did not publicly consult one “expert” or consider the desires of the opposition. The senate got a bill that reflected the personal agenda of Harry Reid.
Part of me understands the anger from the left about the way Repeal & Replace is happening in the senate. However, another part of me understands why it was done in secret. It seems that Obamacare was conceived in secret and is destined to die, in part, in secret.