Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Sunlight Before Signing: Too often bills are rushed through Congress and to the president before the public has the opportunity to review them. As president, Obama will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days.
Remember that quote? All about how Obama is going to change the "old way of doing things" and bring "transparency to Washington"? So far I am not impressed.
Obama signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act two days after it passed Congress. Nobody reviewed it. It was passed in the Senate on January 22, passed in the House on Jan 27 and signed on Jan. 29. It was not on the website until after it was signed.
Then the SCHIP bill which expands health coverage for low income children. He signed that one just hours after it came through Congress. No input there either.
Then comes Porkulus. He signed that one only today, four days after it was rammed through Congress. Remember, we were headed toward a "catastrophe" and this was the worst the economy had been since the Great Depression. Look out! Here comes another Great Depression if we don't pass this thing in time for Pelosi to get on her airplane to Rome!
Congress on Steroids rams this thing through in a matter of days, the legislators finally get a copy of it near midnight on Thursday and are expected to read it and be ready to vote on Friday. Nobody in Congress, much less the public, had time to read the thing, much less comment on it. And to be honest, no democrats really wanted any comment on it. Pelosi and Reid wrote the thing and that was the way it went down. Obama just outsourced it to them. This bill was crafted with NO Republican input whatsoever unless you count the only 3 RINOs who supported it. So much for input.
Oh the drama at getting the final behemoth passed -- we had to extend the normal fifteen minute final vote to HOURS so that Sherrod Brown could attend his mother's wake, fly back to Washington on a plane provided by the White House, vote, then return home for the funeral. Talk about unprecedented.
And the bill was such an "emergency"? So much so that Obama left Washington, took a holiday jaunt home to Chicago, took Michelle out to dinner, watched the All-Star game at a friend's house, went to the gym, did a couple of photo ops, all the while with this "emergency" bill on his desk for four days.
Oh, it's on the website now, but that wasn't the promise. The five-day promise was to have been BEFORE the bill gets passed, not before it gets signed. I feel played. The promise says "non-emergency" but we're to believe it's an emergency when he takes four days to sign the thing, and only then at a photo op in Denver?!
Okay, so the Stimulus is a done deal. Now what do we do? We have to realize that he never wanted our input in the first place. The whole purpose of this bill is to advance his own policy agenda and his own ambition.
I heard Obama say last week that "there are no earmarks in this bill." Are you kidding, Mr. President? The earmarks have been listed and documented ad nauseum and I won't do it again, but seriously? How can he say that with a straight face, unless of course, he hasn't read it either. Does he know about Harry Reid's train? Or Pelosi's mice? To add insult to injury, I then heard him say that if the earmarks were there all along then they aren't earmarks. It's only an earmark if it got slipped in behind closed doors at the end.
This is not "transparency," this is a shell game.
Obama wanted this bill, earmarks and all, because number one it paves the way for nationalized health care and number two, it undoes the welfare reform that Clinton signed during his administration in a bi-partisan move with Republicans. States are once again going to be rewarded for increasing their welfare rolls rather than getting people off welfare and back to work.
The bottom line is that Obama is the President of the United States, the most powerful man in the free world. He had the power to slow this thing down so that the public could look at what we're going into generational debt for. He could have allowed legislators time to read it, but he didn't. He could have told Nancy Pelosi to stuff it and actually lived up to his promise, but he didn't. He could have fostered bi-partisan support, but he didn't. The ends justify the means.
Oh yes, he talked to Republicans and got "input" but none of those recommendations were taken. That was a face saving gesture but in the end it all fell flat and we are the ones left holding the bag of poo.