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Newt: No More Secret Deals


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As a candidate, Barack Obama promised a more open and transparent government. Yet, time and time again during the Obama presidency, from the "stimulus" bill, to Obamacare, and most recently with the debt ceiling negotiations, we have been subjected to the secret deals of politicians with little to no information made available to the American people.

"We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it," Speaker Pelosi asserted about the Obamacare bill in March 2010.

It was the president and Democratic congress' violation of this pledge for open government that helped give rise to the Tea Party and set the stage for the historic Republican gains of the 2010 election.

The American people have made it clear they are sick of secret deals.

Now it is time for President Obama -- as well as congressional leaders -- to finally heed the will of the American people by allowing every meeting of the joint committee on debt reduction to be broadcast on C-Span.

The theatre of secret deals is becoming all too familiar.

First the "leaders" meet in secret. Then they posture at press conferences in public. Then they write a bill in secret. Then we are told their systemic incompetence gives us no choice - there is a magic deadline and if we do not support what they have agreed to, terrible things will happen.

This secret negotiation, secret deal, last minute, un-amendable, "do it or face disaster" model is destructive of a free society. A recent Rasmussen poll showed that after the debt ceiling negotiation ended in a pass-it-or-default crisis, the number of Americans who believe government has the consent of the governed dropped to 17%.

There is an alternative that will help restore popular belief in self-government and engage the American people in solving their country's problems and meeting our generation's challenges.

The recently passed debt limit deal created a 12 member committee that will issue a recommendation in November on where to find $1.5 trillion in additional deficit reduction.

We must insist that every meeting of this joint committee on deficit reduction be broadcast on C-Span, including the meetings that take place in Barack Obama's White House.

Additionally, we should insist that every proposal be in writing and be posted on the internet before each meeting. As proposals are amended during the meeting there should be a contemporaneous posting on the internet.

This way, the American people will be kept apprised of what is being discussed so the final proposals are well understood. Furthermore, Americans will have been given the opportunity to voice their opinion and offer input during the development process.

That is the only way a $1.5 trillion deficit reduction plan can have the consent of the governed.

This is the type of transparency and accountability we had in mind when, on my second day as Speaker of the House, we launched the THOMAS system, which put the House of Representatives on the internet for the first time in history.

Candidate Barack Obama promised to build on the THOMAS model when he pledged during the January 31, 2008 debate in Los Angeles to put health care negotiations on C-Span in order to "enlist the American people in this process."

As important as health reform is, fixing the entire government and the entire budget is even bigger.

No secret meetings.

No secret proposals.

No surprise last minute legislative ultimatums.

Call your Congressman and Senators and demand they support open meetings and open negotiations for the debt reduction committee.

Challenge them to convince the other 83% of the American people that their government wants their consent.


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