Editorial: Pols to voters - Don't ask about budget, health care. We aren't telling
Posted June 20
A CBC Editorial: Tuesday, June 20, 2017; Editorial # 8175
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company
Disclosure of the proposed state budget in Raleigh and the U.S. Senate’s plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) have become akin to the revelation of the tablets from Mount Sinai.
The disappointing reality is that the Bible tells us more, in straight-forward language, about the details of the laws handed down through Moses than North Carolinians will ever be able to figure out from the nearly 1,000 pages of obscure and deliberately misleading text in the budget bill documents. Then again, the Lord was clearly present on the Mount. We’re left to wonder about the source of inspiration for the state budget.
Similarly, it will likely be mere hours after the U.S. Senate reveals its version of a new health care bill that it will be forced through and on its way to more secret negotiations with the U.S. House of Representatives.
It is unreasonable and dictatorial that these critical plans lack even cursory exposure and open debate in committees where the public should be able to observe legislators hashing over details of current and proposed programs.
In North Carolina, most legislators and the rest of the public are given mere hours to make an even superficial examination of the budget bill. The conference committee bill and report were posted at 11:20 p.m. Monday.
The revelation and passage of the state budget over the last six years harkens to a paternalism more appropriate to the royal regimes our nation’s founders overthrew than of the grand constitutional democracy they created.
These days the legislative leadership issues decrees and with a gerrymandered majority, imposes laws – at least until a court somewhere declares them unconstitutional.
Should citizens or journalists have the temerity to challenge the imperial dictates of the legislative leaders, raise questions about legislation, cover the news and protest their actions, they are met with arrest and barred from setting foot in the Legislative Building. Just ask Tim Funk of The Charlotte Observer or the Rev. William Barber, who leads the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP.
If the budget and federal Health Care rewrite are so great and of such benefit to the people of North Carolina and the nation, what’s the fear in letting all of us in on the details and involving us in the discussion?
Of course, if the objective is to pass laws as fast as possible that impose a partisan ideology and then just dare the courts to overturn them (which seems to happen these days on a regular basis), public support and involvement are irrelevant.
All North Carolinians should be concerned when the people they elect to represent them don’t believe they have any obligation to inform and involve those who put them in office.
Today, the legislative leadership has the clout to impose its will in the General Assembly and on the citizens they govern. But, it may be sooner than those leaders think that North Carolina voters will be going to the polls to decide who will continue to represent them in the General Assembly.
When they go to the polls, voters should seek out those who will be open and inclusive as alternatives to those incumbent legislators who are more interested in secrecy and imposing narrow ideologies.