Thursday, July 23, 2009

Same Song, Different Singer

So much for the return to transparency in government promised by candidate Barack Obama. President Obama is having none of that, particularly when it comes to health care reform, as this Los Angeles Times story points out.

Invoking an argument used by President George W. Bush, the Obama administration has turned down a request from a watchdog group for a list of health industry executives who have visited the White House to discuss the massive healthcare overhaul.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington sent a letter to the Secret Service asking about visits from 18 executives representing health insurers, drug makers, doctors and other players in the debate. The group wants the material in order to gauge the influence of those executives in crafting a new healthcare policy.

The Secret Service sent a reply stating that documents revealing the frequency of such visits were considered presidential records exempt from public disclosure laws. The agency also said it was advised by the Justice Department that the Secret Service was within its rights to withhold the information because of the "presidential communications privilege."

The presidential communications privilege? Shades of Dick Cheney! Remember those meetings on energy to which only oil company executives were invited? This sounds remarkably like the same scenario.

Now, it is entirely possible that insurance company executives and health care providers were called to the White House for a little old fashioned jawboning, but if that is the case, then the President should have no reason to keep such information secret. To invoke the excuses of the last administration does nothing more than add legitimacy to the concept of the Unitary President, a concept which was rejected in the last election because that concept upends the ideal of a government with three co-equal branches, and, even worse, it disenfranchises the electorate. That is intolerable, so intolerable that the country swept the Republicans out of office.

I am not really interested in knowing what the President is having for dinner, but I am interested in knowing who he is conferring with when it comes to dealing with such issues as health care access. I may be just a commoner, but I, along with several hundred million other Americans, hold the title to the White House. If Mr. Obama is unwilling to keep crucial campaign promises, then he is just another politician, one whom I will be happy to evict from his current address for failing to pay the rent when the opportunity arises.


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Anonymous PeasantParty said...

I understand he did release the names of two. However, more important to me is who was visiting Capital Hill and to whom they spoke with.

Anyway, we will be sure to let them know if they have worked out something right or not.

3:50 AM  
Blogger Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

I believe I mentioned at some several score or more times during the "campaign" and since that no president since Washington (excepting Jimmy Carter) had ever voluntarily relinquished the powers they had arrogated to themselves to meet particular crises.

"ThePrez" is, as should be painfully evident by now, not in the same class with Washington (or Carter).

8:11 AM  

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