Eric Zimmermann at The Hill reprints a letter:
December 30, 2009
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi The Honorable Harry Reid
Speaker Majority Leader
United States House or Representatives United States Senate
The Honorable John Boehner The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Minority Leader Minority Leader
United States House of Representatives United States Senate
Dear Speaker Pelosi:
As your respective chambers work to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate health care bills, C-SPAN requests that you open all important negotiations, including any conference committee meetings, to electronic media coverage.
The C-SPAN networks will commit the necessary resources to covering all of these sessions LIVE and in their entirety. We will also, as we willingly do each day, provide C-SPAN’s multi-camera coverage to any interested member of the Capitol Hill broadcast pool.
Since the initial introduction of the America’s Affordable Health Care Act of 2009 in the House and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in the Senate
C-SPAN has televised literally hundreds of hours of committee hearings, mark ups and floor debate on these bills for the public to see. And importantly, we have archived all of this video for future generations to study in the C-SPAN Video Archives.
President Obama, Senate and House leaders, many of your rank-and-file members, and the nation’s editorial pages have all talked about the value of transparent discussions on reforming the nation’s health care system. Now that the process moves to the critical stage of reconciliation between the Chambers, we respectfully request that you allow the public full access, through television, to legislation that will affect the lives of every single American.
We hope you will give serious consideration to this request. We are most willing to employ the latest digital technology to make the cameras, lights and microphones as unobtrusive as possible.
Please contact me if I can answer any questions.
Mary Katherine Ham at The Weekly Standard:
The problem for health-care reform proponents, though, is that it isn’t just Tea Party activists and the GOP who are complaining about the opaque nature of the process now, and Obama himself promised to have negotiations aired on C-SPAN during a debate in January of 2008. Chances are he could have talked himself out of this contradiction a year ago, smoothing things over with an “I’ve consistently said” or two, but no longer.
Rick Klein of ABC’s The Note, this morning: “We can all have a laugh at how ridic it was to expect hcare talks to be on C-SPAN, but it was a promise that’s been shattered.”
When a liberal replied, on Twitter, that she’d seen hours of discussion of health-care on the floor, he answered: “that’s great but the pledge went far beyond cmte & floor debate to talks where things actually got hashed out. that wasn’t on TV.”
Philip Klein at American Spectator:
Not only does Democrats’ secrecy make Americans more suspicious about what’s in the health care bills and more inclined to believe critics, but it gets to the heart of why Americans are so cynical about the way business is done in Washington. And it’s that very cynicism that helped Obama transcend ideology in 2008 and sweep into power on a promise of change.
Mike Brownfield at Heritage