Elections have consequences. But sometimes we have to wait a bit to learn what they are.
Recall Barack Obama’s historic election. He glided into office last year, bringing along an increased Democratic majority in the House of Representatives and a seemingly filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.
How did he win? In part by promising to restore fiscal sanity.
“Obama also believes that after eight years of reckless fiscal policies that squandered historic surpluses and added $4 trillion to the deficit, it is vital for candidates to put forward specific ideas on how they will pay for their proposals.” So read the “comprehensive tax plan” posted on barackobama.com.
According to that plan, Obama would “reduce the deficit” both today and in the years ahead. Once elected, though, the president sketched out a budget that tripled the present deficit and would create a tide of red ink as far as the eye can see.
Obama also vowed to open up the lawmaking process. On health care reform, for example, he declared, “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 the drug companies or the insurance companies.”
But reality hasn’t matched the rhetoric.
Health care reform remains secret. As best anyone can tell, the Senate’s version was written by Majority Leader Harry Reid, possibly with input from the White House and liberal activists. It’s impossible to say when a final bill will appear or what it will cost, but $1 trillion seems a low “guesstimate.”
The process in the House has been just as confusing. After months of closed-door talks, Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently appeared with a 1,990 page bill. Now that that bill has passed (in haste), we’ll spend months and years learning about little provisions sprinkled throughout it that nobody had time to read before the vote. So much for discussion and transparency.
And health reform isn’t the only multi-trillion dollar bill being crafted under cover of darkness. Sens. Barbara Boxer and John Kerry have drafted a cap-and-trade bill that would supposedly combat global warming.
Last week, Boxer made a mockery of the supposed new era of transparency by passing the bill out of the Environment and Public Works committee she chairs even though no Republican senators were on hand and even though the Environmental Protection Agency hadn’t yet issued a detailed report on how much the bill could cost.