As not seen on C-SPAN …
Two kinds of people live in the world, as Outliers sees it.
There are people who have lives and families and friends and hobbies, and then there are people who watch C-SPAN.
But that was all supposed to change in 2009, when President Barack Obama was going to use his Paris Hilton-like celebrity image to liven up the sleepy cable video feed of Washington’s most powerful, and most powerfully mind-numbing, discussions.
During a presidential debate on Jan. 31, 2008, Obama told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer: “That’s what I will do in bringing all parties together, not negoti- ating 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.”
Outliers must have been busy on the day last July when the American Hospital Association, Catholic Health Association and Federation of American Hospitals appeared on cable to negotiate their $155 billion, 10-year agreement to accept lower Medicaid payments in exchange for millions of newly insured patients. Or the day last June when the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America agreed on camera to decrease consumer drug costs by $80 billion in order to stave off future government costcutting efforts in drug purchases.
Or last month when Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) appeared on TV to accept an offer for a permanent federal subsidy to cover increases in Medicaid costs for his state, and his state only, in exchange for his allimportant 60th vote for the bill.
The cloakroom dealmaking has gotten so bad that C-SPAN Chairman and CEO Brian Lamb wrote a Dec. 30, 2009 letter to Democratic leaders in the House and Senate begging for access to “all important negotiations,” including committee hearings, as the two chambers work to craft a single bill. “The C-SPAN networks will commit the necessary resources to covering all of these sessions LIVE and in their entirety,” Lamb wrote.
A conservative political action committee, the American Future Fund, is even bankrolling a Web site, letthecamerasin.com, to pressure Democrats to honor Obama’s campaign promise for transparency in the reform debate. More than 3,000 people signed the petition on the Web site within 24 hours of its Jan. 5 launch. “Congressional leadership’s unwillingness to permit C-SPAN to cover what they are doing begs the question, ‘What are they trying to hide?’ ” the group said in a news release.
During a debate, Obama promised transparency.