Like just about every incoming Administration or new Congressional Majority, Senator Obama has promised more “openness” and “transparency” if he becomes President. A Politico article on this topic describes one example of how Obama imagines this transparency pledge would be put into practice:
One of his most repeated pledges – from the Iowa caucuses through the late summer – is to negotiate a health care plan on C-SPAN, televising a process that under President Clinton was conducted behind closed doors.
“I’m going to have all the negotiations around a big table,” Obama said in Virginia in August. “We’ll have doctors and nurses and hospital administrator. Insurance companies, drug companies – they’ll get a seat at the table, they just won’t be able to buy every chair. But what we’ll do is we’ll have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN, so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents and who are making arguments on behalf of drug companies or the insurance companies.”
Can he possibly be serious? Does anyone actually believe that true negotiations about legislation are going to occur among a few important people sitting around a big table in public in front of television cameras? I worked on the Hill only briefly, but even I know that decisions about major legislation are made through a grinding process of back and forth, mostly among staffers, who then seek approval and instruction from higher ups. Anyone who has had to sit through “blue ribbon commission” public hearings knows that these are, for the most part, highly scripted and not where the serious work and decision making takes place.
Obama’s quote would also be amusing for its cartoonish hit on drug and insurance companies if it didn’t reveal a troubling tendency of this would-be president. He really does seem to think that big business is the enemy and anyone who lobbies on behalf of free stuff for “the people” are the good guys. Do Americans really see pharmaceutical companies – the engine of research and the development of life saving cures and treatment – as pure evil? Does no one understand the economics behind the research and development of drugs, especially the incredibly expensive government approval process, that makes it necessary for companies to be able to charge prices that include a profit for drugs that come to market?
If not, Americans may soon learn the hard way the real life consequences of Obama’s anti-business rhetoric.