3 Senators, Obama Secretly Write Health Bill

Sunday, 18 Oct 2009 09:33 AM

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When he was a presidential candidate, Barack Obama promised to make negotiations over healthcare reform an open and transparent process. Now that he's president, the reality is that most of the high-stakes work is being conducted by just three senators behind closed doors.

According to the Washington Post, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Sens. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and Max Baucus, D-Mont., gather in Reid's office to hammer out a merger of competing bills before a Senate vote. The only other people allowed in the room are key aides and Obama's representatives on healthcare reform.

More than a year ago, Obama promised something entirely different.

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"I'm going to have all the negotiations around a big table," he said at a campaign stop in Virginia, where he vowed to have reform talks "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 the drug companies or the insurance companies."

The less-than-transparent nature of the reform process has Republicans angry.

"This bill is being written in the dark of night," House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, told the Post. "The president ought to keep his promise to the American people and open this process up."

Reid Cherlin, a White House spokesman, rejected Boehner's criticism in a statement to the Post. "The House and Senate have held scores of hearings on health insurance reform — as Congressman Boehner well knows — and at the White House we've held an unprecedented series of webcast meetings with key health care stakeholders to gather their input in a public forum."

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