JULY 22, 2009
To conceal the industry executives who will influence the nation’s massive healthcare overhaul, President Obama is utilizing a Bush Administration secrecy shield he has repeatedly chastised.
More than a dozen influential players representing physicians, health insurance companies and pharmaceuticals have visited the White House to discuss Obama’s coveted healthcare plan and he doesn’t want Americans to know who they are, even though the outcome will greatly affect them.
To keep the information from the public, the president who promised to have the most open and transparent administration in history is invoking a controversial and highly criticized argument coined by George W. Bush; that the information is considered presidential records exempt from public disclosure laws.
A government watchdog group requested the list—and frequency of White House visits—from the U.S. Secret Service in an attempt to measure the influence that the healthcare executives will have in creating the new policy that will inevitably impact the entire nation. Citing “presidential communications privilege,” the Justice Department determined that the Secret Service has the right to withhold the data.
Part of Obama’s overall transparency promise was inviting the media to actual healthcare negotiations that would normally take place behind closed doors. Instead, the president has violated his own transparency rule on numerous occasions in his short tenure.
He failed to make public—as promised—details of crucial transition meetings with special interest groups, revealed that his highly touted database for Americans to track “every dime” of the $787 billion stimulus bill wouldn’t be available until half the money is spent and refused to disclose how much U.S. taxpayers spent on his highly publicized New York date with his wife last month.
Obama has even outraged his biggest and most powerful supporters by defending a highly controversial Bush secrecy rule—considered a legal tool to get civil cases dismissed—in court, startling the federal appellate court judges hearing the case. So much for Obama’s plan to change Washington rhetoric.
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