Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

GOP: Democrats Censoring Mail on Health Care

Capitol Briefing
House Republicans have been prohibited from mailing out this diagram of Democrats' health-care reform plan.

By Ben Pershing
The partisan debate over health-care reform has trickled down into one of the more arcane corners of the House -- the committee on free mail, otherwise known as the Franking Commission.

One of the perks of being a member of Congress is that each lawmaker is allowed to send "franked" -- or free -- mail, as long as it is related to official business. Members use that ability to send newsletters and legislative updates to their constituents. To ensure that privilege is not used inappropriately, a majority of the bipartisan six-member Franking Commission must approve each piece to ensure it meets some basic guidelines. Mail is blocked only on rare occasions.

But now the commission has gotten involved in the health-care fight, prohibiting several Republican lawmakers from mailing out reproductions of a colorful, labyrinthine chart that purports to diagram Democrats' reform plan. The controversy was first reported by Roll Call.

The chart was produced by the Republican staff of the Joint Economic Committee and has become a popular visual aide on the minority side of the aisle, as the GOP attempts to convince the public that the majority's plan will be a confusing disaster. But Democrats have argued that the chart is an inaccurate representation of their health-care efforts, and for that reason, the three Democrats on the Franking Commission say the GOP can't use it in official mail. House guidelines say that in franked mail, "Comments critical of policy or legislation should not be partisan, politicized or personalized." But what about information that's inaccurate, or -- arguably -- just misleading?

"We have never before censored anybody's presentation of facts this way," Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) complained in an interview Friday.

Lungren, the top Republican on both the Franking Commission and the House Administration Committee, said the commission has never traditionally played a fact-checking role. He pointed out that Democrats this year have sent out numerous pieces of franked mail touting the number of jobs created by the economic stimulus package, and while Republicans might disagree with those numbers, they've never moved to block the mail from being sent out.

"We let those things go by, even though we don't think it's true," Lungren said, adding that he knows of at least 15 Republicans who have asked to mail out copies of the health-care chart in question. (For some context, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) explains the chart's purpose here. Ezra Klein mocked the chart here, and includes a chart of Republicans' own health-care "plan." )

The controversy extends beyond the colorful chart. Salley Collins, a spokeswoman for House Administration panel Republicans, said GOP members were also being told by the Franking Commission that they could not refer to "government-run health care" in their mailings, and had to dub it "the public option" instead.

Democrats, led by Franking Commission Chairwoman Susan Davis (Calif.), say they are trying in good faith to negotiate a compromise with Republicans on this subject. If the impasse isn't resolved, watch for the GOP to turn up the volume on the controversy next week.

By Ben Pershing  |  July 24, 2009; 3:06 PM ET
Categories:  Ethics and Rules , Health Reform , House  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Today on the Hill
Next: Today on the Hill

Comments

The only free speech Democrats support is that which helps them politically.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | July 24, 2009 11:49 PM | Report abuse

"The only free speech Democrats support is that which helps them politically"

As opposed to Republicans, who enthusiastically support all the free speech (eg. advertising) their wealthy supporters can buy, while deriding the "mainstream media" as leftist (read: reports issues affecting the little guy) and biased (read: actively tries to achieve balance, unlike blatantly partisan and misleading corporate ads).

Posted by: CaliforniaBill | July 25, 2009 12:07 AM | Report abuse

Seems like all the moves coming out of Washington are from Alinski's book "Rules for Radicals" and all the right steps for a would-be dictator.

Posted by: ringmaster76120 | July 25, 2009 12:12 AM | Report abuse

The cover up is always worse than the crime itself.

It is likely claims of censorship like this will become a cause celebre provoking much more publicity than would simply sending out the diagram.

The motives involved in keeping this information hidden are highly suspect at best.

Posted by: aicohn | July 25, 2009 12:21 AM | Report abuse

HERE IS HOW I COMMENTED TO CONGRESS WHEN I SIGNED A MOVEON.ORG PETITION TO ASK CONGRESS TO VOTE BEFORE THEY RECESS. THE SITE IS BELOW IF YOU'D LIKE TO SIGN AND COMMENT IT'LL BE SENT YO CONGRESS, THANKS, BLESSINGS TO U AND URZ!!!!!!!

PLEASE SAVE THE CHILDREN, I KNOW A FAMILY NOW THAT NEEDS HELP NOW. BOTH PARENTS HAVE CANCER AND HAVING DIFFICULTY GETTING SERVICES! I HOPE AND PRAY THAT THEY LIVE OR NOT GET WORSE WHILE YOU ALL ARE ON VACATION...THEY AND THE CHILDREN NEED HELP NOW, NOT FOSTERCARE LATER!. WHICH ONE IN THE END WILL COST MORE?! ESP. THE TRAUMA TO THE KIDS THAT NO ONE WOULD HELP! THIS IS A TRUE REPORT FROM COLUMBIA, MD. STEPHANIE, WHO WILL BE SALT AND LIGHT AND STAND FOR THE WEAK LIKE JESUS DID...NOT JUST IN WORD BUT IN DEED!!!!!!!I HOPE YOU AND YOUR FAMILY SLEEP WELL FOR THAT MONTH. I WILL KEEP YOU AND YOUR FAMILIES IN PRAYER TOO, PLEASE TALK TO GOD ABOUT THIS AND ALL OF YOUR DECISIONS, FOR GOD HAS PLACED YOU IN THIS AUTHORITY BY HIS AUTHORITY AND HE WILL HOLD YOU RESPONSIBLE.PEOPLE NOT POLITICS ARE WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT!!!
http://pol.moveon.org/dontgo/?id=16661

Posted by: lvwrthfdg | July 25, 2009 12:43 AM | Report abuse

No need to spend taxpayers money on this mailing.

It just went out to a few million people this morning.

Posted by: Losercuda | July 25, 2009 6:16 AM | Report abuse

Leave it to the Democrats, like the Politburo, to censor the Republicans from telling the truth about their healthcare plans.

After all, it's only EFFECTIVE communication they have a problem with, communication against one of their pet schemes. If it was ineffective, they wouldn't care.

Never mind that for decades they have been using the franking privilege themselves to send out political, innaccurate information to Americans.

I think there ought to be a protest on a major scale - the issue is way to important to keep the information under wraps.

Posted by: fairnessplease | July 25, 2009 6:36 AM | Report abuse

You know, I realize this is a radical and somewhat unorthodox approach at this company, but you might have considered doing some, well, reporting?

Over the past 10 years, what types of things have been denied franking privileges? Did the Republicans between 2000-2006 deny franking to any Democratic mailings, and what were those mailings? Maybe you could even post some examples.

That way, instead of a mindless he said-she said story, your readers would actually have real information and context on which we can evaluate the statements in the story. Unfortunately, reporting actually takes a little work. A long time ago in this country, we had many organizations that performed work like this "reporting" thing, although they're rare today. We called them "newspapers".

Posted by: woofer123 | July 25, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Gee...while you're not telling us much, why don't you take a minute and tell us what the "censored" piece is about. Put your big brains to work and describe and analyze the content; let us know if it's worth the taxpayers' dollars frank and circulate!

WP..what has become of you! This IS an analysis column, no? Enough of the the censorship end of the free speech debate...lets talk about the cost of the distortions of fact part of the free speech debate!

Posted by: las100 | July 25, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

As I have CAREFULLY followed this debate and its various presentations,I am just stunned at the disconnect between what Obama SAYS,in smooth tones,with the reality of the bills floating through the halls of congress.There are TERRIBLE provisions which the big O seems utterly ignorant.His latest primetime show seemed to be totally devoid of factual truth.He either thinks he can fool or bully enough to get it passed,or he really does have no idea what the socialists on the dem left are trying to pull off.The latter is probably not the case.That health care needs REAL reform is not in question.My family has been shafted out of health care twice in past years by grasping immoral behavior on the part of two large corporations.I am currently without insurance,but the dem plan offers me no solace.The system,the medical school situation,the tax incentives,a national HEALTH CLINIC system,the insurance regulations,THE TORT REFORM never to be allowed by dems-those are all things that can be tweeked to bring the SYSTEM into better mesh with reality.But,until the trial lawyers are tossed into outer darkness,there can be no reigning in of costs.,As long as a slimeball like John Edwards can get fabulously rich conning stupid,ignorant jurors,there is no hope.

Posted by: ghamiltonhill | July 25, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Censorship by the Obamaland wermacht dictatorship regime.

The Republicans, who allowed the end of the USA Constitution, by trying to run their own naturalized, " not born on the turf candidate", didn't vet the other sides own eqaully unqualified and corrupt, NPD sociopathic dual profile.

The two parties tied to the same corruption should end.

Neither are stewards of the Constitutional right to taxation with representation for the new generations, and both are not representing "the will of the people", in this Country.

DC is over run with spineless power grabbers there for elevating only themselves, instead of defending and upholding the US Constitution for "we the people".

Change your voter registration to Independent Party for a round, to delete the electoral college over ride of your right to vote.
Place no Democrat or Republican incumbent to dictate terrible policy to the fresh new Hill.
No Nepotism or big war chests please.
This error of stewardship that we have in there, has to go.

Posted by: dottydo | July 25, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

What the Dem's and Obama want you to believe and what is really in the health care bill are two different animals. First, the term "public option" is a ruse -it is the ONLY option since they intend to marginalize and kill all others. Secondly, you had better start paying attention to H.R. 3200 and understand what's in it - because aside from establishing a big fat affirmative action program and assuring that the Federal Bureaucracy is going to increase 1000 fold to administer it, to say nothing of the state bureaucracies, you're all going to get taxed to death to pay for insuring 8 million people - and if you decline insurance you get "taxed" for it.

Posted by: sandynh | July 25, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

This is just the standard rule preventing the use of the "frank" for political purposes. As a former chief of staff, I had a mailing blocked by the Republicans a few years back because it contained a political buzz word, i.e. "Republican". So what's good for the goose is good for the gander. I am never surprised to hear the Republican pleas to be treated differently from the way they treated Democrats when they were in charge. Stop the whining.

Posted by: jaddd | July 25, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

It is really clueless to misuse the taxpayer money on Acorns and vastly expensive ads to shove an "Obamacare initiative" down our throats, when American's without jobs and homes from his last project, have NO CONFIDENCE in Obamaland.

As one travels around visiting tent cities and RV lives, passing rows and rows of empty Obamaland houses to find them,it is stark and real to discover their most prized possession gracing many tent entrances, is a very dirty face of Obama on a doormat.

When the Gates case revealed a fraud, who see's color, misusing his office and power in cronyism to intimidate police, the very real conversation began that "Obamacare " can allow a Hitler style race deletion.

Obama has all the markers of an NPD sociopathic dual profile, and dictates for his own power just like Hitler. Now ,we see he wants all of our money to control who lives or dies here.


People said "No" to the bailouts enmasse.

The end of the USA was when Bailout and Stimulous entitled the big campaign loans payback.
The largest "war chests" in the History of the Country was not contributions , they were loans that our future generation are strapped with payback on.

The loansharking banks do not need to lend on empty houses, or cars. In fact, they don't need people's business any more at all.
They have money to invest and seed for their perpetuation without caring if you have a roof over your head or transportation.
"No" is the banks only answer.

Now, when Obamaland ads air, people groan and cuss at the boob tube. They generate anger, not sales of the worst Congresss in History.

In busy public venues, when Obama's face is shown, people demand the channel be changed. WHY SPEND THE PUBLIC DOLE INCITING MORE ANGER?

DC is out of touch with the people, and the vote of "No confidence" is now only heard by other Countries.

Obamaland corruption and propaganda machine, isn't listening to hear that they are done and out of power.

THE PEOPLE DO NOT WANT MORE POWER TO THIS GOVERNMENT FOR RACE ELIMINATION VIA HEALTH CARE RUN BY GOVERNMENT.

Posted by: dottydo | July 25, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

The rules are simple - NO POLITICIZING in the FREE mail by EITHER PARTY- nobody is preventing the Republicans or Dems or Independents from sending out a misleading, political editorialization folks - the rules just say they cannot make the public pay for the postage charges. It is unfortunate that this article failed to actually "analyze" anything - had it done so, we might have expected to see a list of the items Dems or Independents were not permitted to send for free during the Bush years. As it stands, it is not analysis, just "he said, he said." Anyhow, since the WaPo folks just published it for them, it is a non-issue. And I hope it is the last time I hear someone talk about the WP being "liberal media" or "left leaning," since we all now have this Republican misinformation chart as evidence they are just another wing of the Republican party. I still have to make up my mind about the Health Care Reform bill (although my $800+ per month individual policy makes me desperate for a less costly option), but when I see folks working so hard to mislead me with that ridiculous chart, I think they are intentionally trying to hide something that might help individuals instead of their corporate donors. Propaganda pretty much always makes me think I should do the opposite of what it recommends, so I guess I should take a closer look at the public option - it sounds like the big insurance companies are pretty intimidated by it, and that sounds good for my wallet.

Posted by: rmcdetal | July 25, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Obama is percieved to be Marcos and Michele is now only,"Imelda the shoe queen".
As they float through the air on the carpet ride dates, the people in tents and RV, are only more angered.

Obama (or whatever his real names are) is only known as Obamafraud, FraudObama, Kommander Kenya, and numeorus censorable words.

If the Republicans want to survive, they must call for the opening of illegally closed Court records to answer the number ONE question out there...."Who is Obama, and what is he hiding?"

If Democrats want to survive, they are going to have to place NPD Sociopathic dual profile Obama, on medical standdown rather than spend more time and money prosecuting him for the Gates cronyism misuse of office and power, to attack police officers.
Simply put....medical stand down of Obama for mental illness nulls and voids his entire signature, and places a Constitutional POTUS Biden.
That action places a new cabinet of "better than jail fodder tax evaders, and flim flam Freddie mac players".

Everyone feels this is Germany circa 1930's and Obama's health care is the methodology to death enmasse for races and age groups by an insane dictator.

Stop the propaganda ads to people living in tents saying the the USA is gone, and the Nation Anthem of Obamaland is "On the Road AGAIN"

When the most sought after and prized pop culture item is an Obama or Pelosi faced doormat, (to keep dirty with at least a dozen not necessary wipes of the feet, and spit on) for the homeless unemployed Americans, one gets the impression that they are not going to work in, or for, this Government.

Unhappy American's living in Obamaland, are angry, and terrified of the dam Obamacare initative....wake up and drop it!!!!!

Posted by: dottydo | July 25, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I can understand that chart.

I'm sure Sarah Palin couldn't understand it.

That's the problem with Republicans. No education in science or math. They can't understand complicated flow charts.
You know.... There is no such thing as global warming, or evolution.
There was no Matthew Shepard killing.
There are no Americans without health care in the U.S. Didn't you know that? (Virginia Foxx knew those last 2. And I'm sure the 1st two "facts".)

Washington the country would be better off / better served if all the Republicans in Congress stayed home after the August recess. They can't read flow charts.
They don't need to be making laws for the rest of us.


Posted by: LQQKnMarion2 | July 25, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

if ted kennedy had the kind of healthcare he is putting out there for the rest of us he would be where he should be,taking a dirt nap.
these fools are kissing up to our first muslim mafia chicago thug punk socialist leader,and will pass anything his communistic little heart wants. they all need to go away,anyone who votes for this should be treated like the traitors they are,tarred,feathered,shot in the kneecaps,drug through the streets behind my truck,and then hung by the neck .

Posted by: silusdogood | July 25, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

"first muslim mafia chicago thug punk socialist leader"? As usual, I am amazed and wonder: where are these idiots from, and how could they afford a computer?

Posted by: steveboyington | July 25, 2009 9:48 PM | Report abuse

That's a nice chart, and we know WaPo didn't have to show it.

I find it very interesting how both the WaPo and the NYT are suddenly presenting a much more balanced take on politics and activity in Washington. What's happening? Are they trying to blackmail Obama and the Dems into a bailout by showing how they can turn up the heat on them, or are they proving that they are really the antagonistic fourt estate, no matter who's in power? Or, has Obama even pissed off the press he keeps trying to manipulate? Such interesting times. I guess no one likes having information manipulated the way they did in Communist Russia.

Posted by: gburton58 | July 27, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Who pays the right-wing trolls that have filled up the comments section here? Someone does, we know that for sure. We are onto you, pathetic jerks. About time to start looking at how your paymasters have destroyed your world. Stop listening to the people who brought us to this pass and start analyzing your own data.

Posted by: debocracy | July 27, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Fairnessplease wrote:
"Leave it to the Democrats, like the Politburo, to censor the Republicans from telling the truth about their healthcare plans."

The problem is that Republicans and their mouthpieces have not spoken the truth about the healthcare debate.

I agree with the poster who points out that the article gives us no context on how the Franking rules have been applied before. Without that knowledge, we cannot judge if the Rs have a real complaint or are just doing their customary whining to
obstruct progress.

Posted by: mcafla | July 27, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Consider the Connection to:
A Plug'in 4 Health Care Reform
Please plug'in (search):
Consumers Union United States
Health Care Profiteers & Lobbyists
www.aft.org/fight4america
www.WeWantThePublicOption.com
CTC123GREEN

Posted by: jerry_mayeux | July 27, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

The American Medical Association (AMA) knows firsthand the devastating effects of our broken health care system. As the nation's largest physician organization, we feel it is imperative to take this opportunity to formally reiterate to you our commitment to meaningful health system reform. Progress has been made and common ground exists, but there are still difficult issues that must be resolved. We believe it is time for results, not rhetoric. America's patients and physicians deserve better. More information can be found at our health system reform resources community at www.ama-assn.org/go/reform.

Posted by: AMA2009 | July 28, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Why would anyone wait to go public with this.

The Republicans should be boycotting proceedings. Shutting down the house, and if they have the power, blocking all Democratic mailings as well based on disagreeing with some fact in the mailing.

This is censorship - no matter who is doing it - delaying a week will make this seem like a political issue when they do it.

Republicans need to man up and learn how to fight for principles.

Every since they backed down on exercising their right to control the purse under Clinton I have had no respect for Congressional Republicans.

Still do not - obviously for good reason.

Posted by: RealityChk | July 28, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company