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VIDEO: Obama told Iowans he’d televise health reform negotiations on C-SPAN
News that Democrats in the House and Senate plan to merge their versions of health care reform legislation in closed-door sessions instead of a formal conference committee has observers on both sides of the aisle upset. It even provoked C-SPAN to send a letter to Democratic leaders last week requesting that the merger be broadcast.
And while President Barack Obama may not agree, candidate Obama made it clear during an Iowa campaign stop in December 2007 that it was behind-closed-doors negotiation that doomed health care reform during the Clinton administration.
During a speech to a crowd in Washington, Iowa, Obama said the Clintons failed at health care reform because “they went about it the wrong way, they went behind closed doors and tried to come up with a plan without even including some members of Congress, including members of their own party.”
He went on to say he would try to work differently: “This is all going to be on C-SPAN, the American people will be watching, so it’s not behind closed doors, it’s open.”
Here is an Iowa Independent video of the speech:
Obama followed up his comments during a debate the next month, where he said he favored “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.”
Blogging at The Des Moines Register, political consultant Graham Gillette, who attended the above speech, called for Obama to apologize for going back on his promise to hold health care negotiations in public.
“We will never know what price we Americans have paid for these closed door meetings, because the President has opted to govern as usual instead of abiding to the lofty promises he made on snowy days when he was a candidate to bring change and openness,” Gillette wrote. “I know it is silly, but as a person who cheered him that cold day in Washington, Iowa and on countless other days and sites across the country when he said he would open the doors to his White House, I kind of feel he owes me a personal apology.”