“If you’re frustrated with the lack of transparency in this process; I share your frustration. I share it wholeheartedly. The American people need and deserve to see legislation as it moves through the Senate,” he said.
Now, it is pretty rare that Mike Lee and I agree but, in this instance, he is spot-on.
Numerous non-partisan groups have declared this health care process as “not normal.” And, now that the vote has been postponed, it is reported by Politico that moderates are being bribed with opioid money in order to pass a bill that the majority of Americans oppose (USA Today reports 12 percent support and NPR reports 17 percent support).
And, if you look back at the commentary made by Republicans during the creation of the Affordable Care Act, they had similar complaints. In fact, (then) Gov. Mike Pence tweeted, “It is simply wrong for legislation that will affect 100% of the American people to be conducted behind closed doors.
Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch had a similar remark. Hmmm … how soon we forget.
For comparison, the ACA was given three House committee hearings and two Senate committee hearings and subject to hours of bipartisan debate. The Senate health committee spent 60 hours over 13 days. The Senate finance committee spent eight days reviewing the bill. More than 300 amendments were considered and 160 Republican amendments were actually adopted into the bill. In total, the full Senate debated the ACA healthcare bill for 25 days before being passed in 2009.
I will concede that the Affordable Care Act is not perfect. But when your house has some issues, you don’t solve it by burning it down. At least when designing the ACA, the time was spent to make sure it was as good as it could possibly be. At least there was some semblance of bipartisan cooperation to develop the bill. At least there were women included in the creation of the bill.
And, at least there was transparency.
Now, I will accept that some parts of the process need to be completed out of the public eye. My issue lies with the fact that Republican leaders have come out publicly saying that they refuse to have hearings on the bill before a vote is on the floor. Our leaders should be working together in order to heal this country and the partisan divide that is killing us as a nation.
ADVERTISINGYes, I am bothered that the bill is unfair to the majority of Americans and deepens the divide between rich and poor; however, the manner in which it was created is my greatest concern.
Is this really the road we want to walk down? Let’s say Republicans pass the health care bill after completing everything in secret. The success of the strategy would increase the temptation to complete all major legislation in the same manner. And, after a few times, the process would likely normalize.
And, I can say with absolute certainty that crafting secret bills was not the vision of our founding fathers. I am dumbfounded that this is acceptable to anyone on either side of the aisle. Totally. Not. Cool.
Lynn Matthews is chair of the Washington County Democratic Party.