“These are not the droids you’re looking for.”
Excuse me? There’s an old saying: the devil is in the details. A corollary of that: we’d rather the devil we know than the one we don’t. None of that matters to Democrats on the Senate Finance Committe, however. Yesterday the Baucus Caucus defeated a measure to make the bill public. Kentucky Republic Sen. Jim Bunning proposed the ammendment to give constituents the opportunity to review and comment on the bill. That’s a pretty radical concept for a representative democracy.
The Washington Examiner says Sen. Max Baucus claims it’s too difficult to put health care bill online. Baucus (D-MT), Finance Committee Chairman, said it would take his staff two weeks to post the bill on the web. So, how long did it take to post the 223 page Chairman’s Mark document, the plain-English version the Finance Committee agreed to post “before the vote”? And how before the vote do they mean? Nanoseconds? And who wrote and posted the 98 page Call to Action document? Here’s a thought: if the Finance Committee’s staff is so incompetent they can’t make an Adobe document, upload it, and put a link on the website, fire them. That might help the deficit problem just a tad.
Instead, the issue is really politics. Committee member John Kerry (D-MA) said Bunning’s ammendment “is fundamentally a delay tactic.” Um, giving people time to read the legal language, rather than make-believe plain English, is the morally correct thing to do. Since legislators themselves don’t see a need to read bills, their constituents need the time. How else can they let their representatives and senators know how they want votes cast?
Our so-called representatives, in both the House and Senate, are missing a key point. As House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) said Wednesday:
The American people are angry that Speaker Pelosi didn’t allow the public and their elected representatives to read the trillion-dollar ‘stimulus’ bill or the national energy tax before they were rammed through the House. Congress can, and must, do better.
At least Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), ranking Finance Committee member, gets it. “It’s what [the public] expects us to do anyway—read a bill before you vote on it.” Don’t stand for your representatives passing secret legislation. Tell your Senators and US Represenative you will not tolerate them voting for bills not posted for public review and comment. Elections are coming and they serve at our pleasure, not theirs.