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July 21. 2014 8:02PM

What’s the rush? Executive Council follows Pelosi plan

In November 2009, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi scheduled the first vote on Obamacare before the Congressional Budget Office or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had released their analyses of the bill. Then-Rep. Brian Baird, D-Washington, expressed his frustration in The Wall Street Journal in 2010.

“What the hell were we doing voting on this?” he asked.

Executive Councilor Chris Sununu echoed Baird’s frustration last week when he criticized the council’s vote for a 200-page Medicaid contract just two hours after councilors were given the final version of the contract.

“Our primary purpose in this state is to be a check and balance, and we rubber stamped this contract without reading it,” Sununu said. It is a complaint the people should join Sununu in making.

The contract was with two companies hired to administer New Hampshire’s expanded Medicaid program (which Obamacare was going to force on states until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that unconstitutional). Councilors got their first look at contract amendments over the weekend before last, and they got the new contract just hours before Wednesday’s vote. The contract was not on the council’s agenda, so no member of the public would have known it was up for a vote.

Those reasons were more than enough to justify postponing the vote, which the council’s two Republicans requested. The three-member Democratic majority said the contract could not wait. Where have we heard that before?

It was not just Obamacare. Remember the 2009 stimulus bill? The New York Times called it “among the biggest in history” and The Washington Post labeled it “a plan breathtaking in size and scope.” The House passed the first version of the bill just three days after it was introduced, and the final version less than 24 hours after it was written. Only later did we find that the stimulus was more expensive and more wasteful than people were told.

Passing huge bills before anyone has a chance to understand them is a tactic of the Democratic Party. When she was a state senator in 2009, Maggie Hassan slipped a tax on limited liability companies into the state budget at 1 a.m. the morning of the vote. As with Obamacare, it was not until the budget had passed that businesses and even legislators realized the damage it would do. Now Democrats are doing this with state contracts. Are you tired of this yet, New Hampshire?

When Republicans took back the U.S. House, they instituted a rule that no bill gets a vote until it has been available online for 72 hours. (President Obama in 2008 promised a five-day waiting period, but never instituted one.) The Executive Council ought to have at least a 24-hour waiting period for contracts, with exceptions for emergencies. It can hardly do its job of checking the governor’s power if its members do not have time to read the contracts they were hired to scrutinize.


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