Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter has become the first Democrat to pledge not to vote for any health care legislation before reading every word of it. He also promised to oppose any such bill that has not been posted on the Internet for at least 72 hours.
“We applaud Senator Specter for becoming the first Democrat to commit himself to greater transparency in the health care reform process,” said Colin Hanna, president of Let Freedom Ring, the group that devised the “Responsible Health Care Pledge” and has been pressing members of Congress to sign it.
“We urge all of his Democratic colleagues in Congress to follow suit. Based on his speech Wednesday, it is not clear that President Obama has read the bill, and Democratic leaders in Congress have laughed off the notion of doing their job for the American people.”
As of late Tuesday afternoon, eight Republican senators had signed the pledge, along with 109 Republican members of the House. Let Freedom Ring began its campaign just before the July 4 congressional recess.
The pledge and a list of signers can be found at www.pledgetoread.com. It reads: “I pledge to my constituents and to the American people that I will not vote to enact any health care reform package that:
“1) I have not read, personally, in its entirety; and,
“2) Has not been available in its entirety to the American people, on the Internet for at least 72 hours, so that they can read it, too.”
Let Freedom Ring is a public policy organization that says its goals are the promotion of constitutional government, economic freedom and traditional values.
Mr. Specter “has never been anyone’s rubber stamp,” Mr. Hanna told Inside Politics on Tuesday.
“This is not a partisan issue,” he added. “We’ve been entirely evenhanded.”
PATH TO WAR
“Events are fast pushing Israel toward a pre-emptive military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, probably by next spring,” Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens writes.
“That strike could well fail. Or it could succeed at the price of oil at $300 a barrel, a Middle East war, and American servicemen caught in between. So why is the Obama administration doing everything it can to speed the war process along?” Mr. Stephens asked.
“At July’s [Group of Eight] summit in Italy, Iran was given a September deadline to start negotiations over its nuclear programs. Last week, Iran gave its answer: No.
“Instead, what Tehran offered was a five-page document that was the diplomatic equivalent of a giant kiss-off. It begins by lamenting the ‘ungodly ways of thinking prevailing in global relations’ and proceeds to offer comprehensive talks on a variety of subjects: democracy, human rights, disarmament, terrorism, ‘respect for the rights of nations’ and other areas where Iran is a paragon.
“Conspicuously absent from the document is any mention of Iran’s nuclear program, now at the so-called breakout point, which both Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his boss, [Ayatollah] Ali Khamenei, insist is not up for discussion.
“What’s an American president to do in the face of this nonstarter of a document? What else but pretend it isn’t a non-starter. Talks begin Oct. 1.
“All this only helps persuade Israel’s skittish leadership that when President Obama calls a nuclear-armed Iran ‘unacceptable,’ he means it approximately in the same way a parent does when fecklessly reprimanding his misbehaving teenager. That impression is strengthened by Mr. Obama’s decision to drop Iran from the agenda when he chairs a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Sept. 24; by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates publicly opposing military strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities; and by Russia’s announcement that it will not support any further sanctions on Iran.”
The New York Post fired back at Rep. Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat, in an editorial Tuesday.
“Rep. Charlie Rangel is upset at the Post’s reports of his various transgressions. So here’s a word of advice: Stop committing them, Congressman.
“Rangel lashed out at the Post last weekend for its role in exposing his shady finances, failure to pay taxes, dubious fundraising, illegal use of a House garage and on and on,” the newspaper said.
” ‘I think it’s totally unfair for the New York Post to send investigators to my family’s home,’ he huffed.
“Obviously, he’s miffed - for starters - by the paper’s pictures and stories of his secret Caribbean rental property, which he failed to disclose to Congress and on which he failed to pay taxes.
“But the Post’s reporting has proved 100 percent accurate - buttressed, in fact, by reports from other news outlets.
“There have also been reports about his countless other schemes: his four rent-stabilized apartments, for instance, and his apparent pay-to-play deal involving a City College center named for him.
” ‘I want to maintain the good name, honesty and integrity that I’ve enjoyed for over 50 years,’ Rangel added.
“Fine. Then start living up to that goal.
“Alas, Rangel seems likely to pay little price for his sins, the Post’s exposes notwithstanding. That’s because his cowardly fellow Democrats, who run Congress, refuse to call him on it.
“Nearly a year ago, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House Ethics Committee would finish its probe of Rangel by January. Last week, she gave him a full-throated vote of confidence, nixing any thought that he should step aside.
“Yes, Rangel wields great power in Congress, thanks in part to the hundreds of thousands of dollars he’s directed to fellow Democrats.
“So, yes, Dems may remain mum.
“But we sure won’t. Count on it.”
“Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, under fire in Air Force circles for capping the F-22 fighter program and firing the top brass a year ago in a leadership coup, has decided to go into the lion’s den and address his harshest critics in the Air Force Association on Wednesday,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column at www.usnews.com.
“His decision to speak at the group’s annual conference came as a surprise to some in the community, who expected Gates to ignore the invitation and send representatives instead. But a Pentagon official said Gates wants to address his recent moves and also boast about the efforts of the Air Force in Afghanistan and Iraq. ‘It’s an opportunity for him to talk about all the Air Force has done, most of it unheralded,’ says an associate. ‘He also wants to explain his decisions to those most impacted.’ ”
Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or firstname.lastname@example.org.