The American people were promised transparency under Democratic Party rule. President Obama told the American people no less than eight times that legislative deliberations would be aired on C-SPAN, not behind closed doors. The call for reform and transparency became a rallying cry for the Obama campaign.
This process that produced the House and Senate health care legislation has been anything but transparent.
But what can be expected when the conversation starts with back door deals between the White House and both Big Health Insurance and Big Pharmaceuticals? The health insurance industry received from Democrats, in exchange for their complicity and financial support, legislation that forces all Americans to buy their product regardless of want, need or ability to pay. Talk about a massive transfer of wealth from younger, healthier, poorer individuals to an older, less healthy, more wealthy population. PhRMA demanded that Obama keep certain things kept out of the health care bill in exchange for spending $150 million to support Democratic health care reform legislation. Specifically:
- Not allowing the importing of foreign pharmaceuticals
- Not allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prices
- Blocking shortened patents on biologics that would open the market for more affordable generics
The Democrats were instructed to uphold their end of the deal, and PhRMA was to spend money in support of the bill.
Senator Carper made it clear that there was a deal, and that the Democrats were feeling pressure to keep up their end of the bargain. “Whether we like PhRMA or not, we have a deal.” To keep up their end of the deal, Democrats reneged on President Obama’s campaign promises and let their pharmaceutical friends and funders continue to collect their monopoly rents..
In addition to backdoor deals, Democrats in Congress directly violated their own promise to keep a bill posted online for 72 hours before a vote. This promise has not yet been kept. Republicans and even most Democrats have not been allowed to see the final version of the bill until hours before the vote.
The New Republic reported and it has since been confirmed that Senate Democrats are “almost certain” to bypass the traditional ‘conference’ process where representatives from each house get together to discuss publicly, the difference between Senate and House bills and hold informal negotiations to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the bill. Citing “too many procedural hurdles,” the intent is clearly to avoid any delays that Republicans may be able to create by doing something crazy – like following the rules established to make sure the minority party representing almost half the country has some say in preventing the tyranny of the majority.
There is no such thing as transparency in this health care debate. It is defined by back room deals with vested interests, buying votes, manipulating the system, and ignoring the Constitution. Welcome to the era of hope and change.