The Medicare Bill: A Study in How Government Shouldn’t Work

Charges of bribery, threats, the Administration misleading Congress and censoring of C-SPAN cameras.

Key members of Congress excluded from legislative negotiations, and the principal author of the $535 billion Medicare bill stepping down as chairman of a House committee after it was revealed that he was negotiating a multi-million dollar lobbying job with a prime beneficiary of the bill he wrote.

Developments in a John Grisham novel?

No, all this happened during passage of the Medicare bill.

As Congress Thursday holds a hearing on new Medicare drug cards, Common Cause releases a report chronicling a series of incidents, large and small, with the Medicare bill, that add up to a consistent effort by the Bush Administration and the congressional leadership to bypass or undermine rules and laws that are in place to ensure that our government works in an open and accountable manner, and that all voices are heard on critical public policy issues. The bill, in its journey from Capitol Hill to the White House, is a study in government ignoring minority rights, shutting out opposing voices and suppressing the flow of vital information.

“The story of the Medicare bill is the complete collapse of the democratic process,” said Common Cause President Chellie Pingree. “We have rules and laws requiring accountability, transparency, ethical behavior and inclusion that were ignored every step of the way, all to the peril of the American people.

How many Americans, for example, were disenfranchised because they had no representation in the room where the Medicare bill was effectively decided.”

“Democracy on Drugs, the Medicare/Prescription Drug Bill: A study in how government shouldn’t work,” is the first in a series of reports that will draw attention to the misuse of power becoming increasingly common at the highest levels of government in Washington. Common Cause will shine a light on processes designed to make government accountable that have been ignored.

“We must reform and strengthen some of these rules and laws that were brushed aside during the Medicare debate,” Pingree said. “More importantly, public officials involved must be held accountable so that Americans can be sure that democracy is not just another word, but an integral part of how our government operates.”

Download the report – (PDF)