Rhetoric Versus Reality, Part IV

Thom Lambert —  6 January 2010

Then-candidate Barack Obama, debating Senator Clinton on how to reform health care, January 31, 2008:

But the last point I want to make has to do with how we’re going to actually get this plan done. You know, Ted Kennedy said that he is confident that we will get universal health care with me as president, and he’s been working on it longer than I think about — than anybody. But he’s gone through 12 of these plans, and each time they have failed.

And part of the reason I think that they have failed is we have not been able to bring Democrats, Republicans together to get it done.

That’s what I did in Illinois — (applause) — to provide insurance for people who did not have it. That’s what I will do in bringing all parties together, 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 — (applause) — the American people in this process….

Reality, first week of January, 2010:

C-Span CEO Brian Lamb writes congressional leaders asking them to allow cameras in the room for the final negotiations on the health care bill:

President Obama, Senate and House leaders, many of your rank-and-file members, and the nation’s editorial pages have all talked about the value of transparent discussions on reforming the nation’s health care system. Now that the process moves to the critical stage of reconciliation between Chambers, we respectfully request that you allow the public full access, through television, to legislation that will affect the lives of every single American.

Congressional leaders Reid and Pelosi opt to bypass a conference committee to push through the final health care bill.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs insists the American people know all they need to know about the pending legislation: “I do not believe the American people have lacked for information on what’s in these bills.” (In other words, No thank you, Mr. Lamb.)

More from the Wall Street Journal and Real Clear Politics.

Thom Lambert

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I am a law professor at the University of Missouri Law School. I teach antitrust law, business organizations, and contracts. My scholarship focuses on regulatory theory, with a particular emphasis on antitrust.