By U.S. Senator Jon Kyl

Heres the thing, were going to do all these negotiations on C-SPAN so the American people will be able to watch these negotiations.

That was Senator Barack Obama at an Ohio campaign event in March 2008 discussing how his bill to reform the nations health-care system would be drafted.

And he made that pledge to televise health-care negotiations again and again and again.

In January 2008, he said, Not negotiating behind closed doors, but bringing all parties together and broadcasting those negotiations on C-SPAN so that the American people can see what the choices are, because part of what we have to do is enlist the American people in this process.

Then, in August 2008, Senator Obama stated, Well have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents, and who [is] making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies.

Only weeks later in November, he went so far as to fault former President Bill Clinton for drafting health-care reform legislation behind closed doors: I respect what the Clintons tried to do in 1993 in moving health reform forward, but they made one really big mistake, and that is, they took all their people and all their experts and put them into a room, and then they closed the door. We will work on this process publicly, it will be on C-SPAN, it will be streaming over the net.

Well, no it wont.

So far, President Obama has followed the 1993 script. Throughout the entire process of drafting health-care reform legislation, congressional Democrats have engaged in a go at it alone approach, behind closed doors and out of sight from the public. Those who werent invited to the Democrats secret negotiations wouldnt know the details of a bill until just before it came up for a vote. And were talking about bills in excess of 2000 pages with hundreds of hidden provisions.

The Senate and House approved versions of health-care reform by the narrowest of margins, virtually along party lines. The bills have significant differences on issues like cost, abortion coverage, taxes, and the government-run option; and the Senate and House must now reconcile those differences and write a single bill. While that process usually occurs through a conference committee composed of members of both bodies and of both parties, congressional Democrats intend to circumvent this process in order to negotiate differences in the bills among themselves behind closed doors, guaranteeing a partisan product. And Democrats likely wont reveal the details of the new bill until just before each chamber has to vote for the last time.

It wouldnt be difficult to broadcast these negotiations. C-SPAN CEO Brian Lamb has even tried to take the President up on his promise of transparency. He recently wrote to President Obama and congressional leaders, 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.

Im not optimistic that Democrat Leader Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi will allow cameras into the negotiations. Speaker Pelosi recently told a reporter who asked about the Presidents campaign pledge to televise House-Senate negotiations, There are a number of things he was for on the campaign trail.

Theres no good reason to keep the negotiations of the health-care bill secret unless, of course, the President and congressional Democrats know that Americans wouldnt like what they see and the only way they can get this bill is to write it in secret and pass it quickly, before the American people know whats in it.

Sen. Jon Kyl is the Senate Republican Whip and serves on the Senate Finance and Judiciary committees. Visit his website at www.kyl.senate.gov or his YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/senjonkyl.   back...
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