Our View: Should legislators be expected to vote in the dark

Published on Sunday, 3 December 2017 19:08
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In 2010, when Obamacare was enacted by the Congress, House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi famously said: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.” (italics ours)

But, for the next eight years, Republicans used a shortened version to blast their Democratic rivals.

Now, however, it looks like voting for legislation without really knowing what’s in it has become business as usual. A CNN headline for a story about this weekend’s passage of tax reform reads like this: “The Senate voted on a tax bill pretty much nobody had read.” And Connecticut’s own Sen. Chris Murphy, pointing to last-minute handwritten changes, said: “I will not have time to read (the bill) before I am forced to vote on it.”

Locally, it became clear from this weekend’s story by our reporter, Skyler Frazer, that this also happens at the state level.

In a story about changes knocking seniors off the state’s Medicare Savings Plan, New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart said: “This is one of those things that gets thrown into the state budget. There are so many things that are just being uncovered that impact peoples’ livelihood that we didn’t know about when the budget was being passed at 2 o’clock in the morning. Had we known about that then, we would have (had) an opportunity to research and really push to take this part out of the budget.”

Or was that the point? In both cases: keep potential opposition in the dark until it’s too late.

Whatever happened to open government?

Whatever happened to responsible government?

Posted in New Britain Herald, Editorials on Sunday, 3 December 2017 19:08. Updated: Sunday, 3 December 2017 19:11.