Report: ‘Underhanded Health Care Reform Tactics to be Used on Energy Bill Next?’

Special to Climate Depot

Written by Italia Federici — Reprinted With Permission

The tactics being used to enact health care reform are taking advocacy into untested and unsavory waters. Instead of generating true grassroots support from individual voters, there are allegations of astroturfing, and now a former Clinton White House staff member and former Democratic National Committee senior staff member is coming forward with more information.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, this source claims that many of the phone calls going to Capitol Hill in support of healthcare reform are actually coming from paid Organizing for America employees secretly working from the basement of the DNC. That’s right, according to this source, many calls in support of health care reform aren’t going into member offices on Capitol Hill from constituents in the states, they are being generated by the DNC itself – from the DNC’s own Capitol Hill-adjacent basement.

The source recalled earlier years spent working in the DNC HQ and said, “I always knew these places (the Republican and Democratic National Headquarters) to be used for calling political fundraisers and activists. Not for phone-baking Capitol Hill about legislation.” The real concern according to the source is that this type of operation prevents Members of Congress from hearing from their constituents by tying up phone lines and creates a false impression in the minds of legislators who rely on constituent feedback.

For months Tea Party activists, worried constituents, and radio and television talk show hosts have lamented the inability of taxpaying citizens to reach their Members of Congress. Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto spent a large block of his Tuesday show calling the Hill over and over again only to get a constant busy signal. Calls to the main Capitol switchboard are either busy or give an error message.

Add to that the procedural maneuvering the House will likely use to prevent individual Members of Congress from having to actually cast a yea or nay vote on health care reform. The plan is to use a little known option – now nicknamed the Slaughter Solution after democratic lawmaker Louise Slaughter – to allow the House of Representatives to deem the Senate version of the health care bill passed. So much for a bicameral legislature.

The next battle on Capitol Hill after health care is likely to be passage of an energy bill. If these tactics succeed in getting a health care reform bill to Obama’s desk for signature, will the country see a repeat of these machinations over cap-and-trade?

For over a decade the Kyoto Protocol was not enacted by Congress on the basis of its unpopularity with the American people. But the tactics being employed by secret, basement-run phone operations, computer generated letters to the editor, and unicameral bill passage are lethal for our citizen-centric political process.

By now it is clear, health care reform will only succeed though eliminating the American people from the legislative process.

Italia Federici was a member of the Cheney Energy Task Force and was the President of the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.