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Government doesn’t keep openness promise

January 11, 2012
The Alpena News

In Washington every new administration swears it will be more open (transparent) than the previous sneaks. Transparency means we can see what they are doing; but frequently what our legislators are doing openly is not what we think. A good example is the legislative device "unanimous consent." In our democracy we count on majority rule, so when the Senate or House votes on legislation we understand yea and nay and unanimous consent is perfection. Recently in front of our ever vigilant eyes, with the consent of the House, Senate and president, Speaker of the House Boehner used "unanimous consent" to sneak in approval of the 2 month payroll tax extension. Of course this is a legal maneuver. In the most recent sleight of hand "unanimous consent" cut off all possibility of discussion and approved the deception. The process could have been stopped by a voting member of the House rising to say I do not agree but it is the consent of all present and Washington was home for the holidays. The process was done visibly but was it done honestly? Surely there is an element of honesty in transparency but both the House and Senate have ways to maneuver legislative situations in ways that befuddle us in honest ways. They can suspend rules, change the rules, filibuster, use reconciliation, the slaughter solution, table it, kill it and use "unanimous consent" like a magician uses the other hand. Most of our elected representatives understand how this is all accomplished. The good old boys (gobs) club is responsible for making things honestly appear and disappear. The gobs don't have a secret handshake, password or exclusive tattoo but they know there are few who really understand the shenanigans of their exclusive group. We the people no longer know the definition of transparency.



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