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Momentum is building for putting a historic conference between the House and Senate online and on live television, as they debate the future of financial reform.  This is the time to contact Senators and Representatives to support this critical step toward open government - and a stronger, fairer, safer economy.

Yesterday we asked conservatives to join with progressives incalling for the House/Senate financial reform conference to be broadcast on live television.  We pointed out that this would be consistent with the spirit of the GOP's "Sunlight Resolution," and with  a number of conservative calls to avoid "backroom" deals as health reform was being finalized.  We also pointed out that a broadcast of this kind would weaken the influence of bank lobbyists, which means we're likely to get better legislation.

House Minority Leader John Boehner is now on board.  He said this in a letter written to Nancy Pelosi yesterday: "(C)onsistent with the new House initiative of live streaming video of House floor proceedings, we believe the conference debate should include live webcasting so even more Americans can engage in the debate ..."

Barney Frank, Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said back in March that he wants to televise the conference.  His remarks this week were slightly more equivocal, as we reported in our earlier piece.  There's no need to equivocate out of concern for the GOP, however, if Boehner supports the idea.   And on the Senate side, Republican Senators Shelby and Corker have now both expressed support:  "That'd be great," Corker told Talking Points Memo yesterday.  "Sure."  As TPM reports, the weakest expression of support came from Democratic Sen. Dodd:  "I have no opposition to it," he said.

Boehner's letter (pdf) contained a number of partisan jabs against Democrats and the health reform process, but hit several of the right notes:  "The financial system is the lifeblood of our economy," it began, concluding:  "Republicans support bringing sunshine to the legislative process.  As Chairman Frank said, we should have members of the House and Senate, Majority and Minority sitting in a public forum with C-SPAN coverage ... (that) should include live webcasting."

He's right.  And there's no need to stop there.  With just a little imagination, we have the opportunity to use technology to open government up in some of exciting ways.  We can record and segment video of the live webcast so that it can be indexed and searched by subject, and so can be cross-linked to written transcripts and supporting documents.  That way researchers, journalists, and interested citizens could study the debate in the months and years to come:  to learn, or merely to cast an informed ballot at election time.  They could also embed crucial debate moments and related information into articles, papers, and blog postings.  (The technology exists and is simple to use.)

But even a simple webcast and/or C-SPAN broadcast would be a great step forward, and some other Senators and Representatives can help make sure it happens.  Why not give them an encouraging call?  They include Majority Leader Harry Reid (202-224-3542), Speaker of the House Pelosi (202-225-0100), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (202-224-2541). (We just checked John Boehner off the list, but you can call him at 202-225-0704 to express your approval.)  

Sen. Dodd - who coolly told TPM, "we'll see how it all works out" - can be reached at 202-224-2823.  You can also let Chairman Frank know you support full televising of the conference as he originally proposed, by calling 202-225-5931.  And Members of the Senate Committee can be found here, while House Committee members are here. If your Senator or Representative is among them, a call to them could be particularly effective.

Now is the time:  The Congress is on the brink of conducting an important exercise in open government - one that will also ensure that we get the most effective financial reform possible.  The momentum is building.  All that's needed is a little push.

Originally posted to RJ Eskow on Sat May 22, 2010 at 09:21 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Sorry, this is really not productive (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tomtech, sulthernao

    I really don't think Congress has changed all THAT much since I worked there 20 years ago - putting members in front of tv cameras is a sure way to get nothing done, nothing agreed to, nothing passed.  Why do you think Boehner's for it?

    •  Debate is meaningless in the modern era. (0+ / 0-)

      It's only used to get sound bites out.

      I'm no Nate Silver, TomTech, or VoteforAmerica ("WineRev" Eeman, Recounting Minnesota)

      by Tomtech on Sat May 22, 2010 at 09:28:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Oh, all the real deals will get done (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      just not on television.

      The Republicans are irrelevant, and our leadership will just work out their deals before the televised official conference.

      It's not productive, but it's not counterproductive.

      They'll babble their Randroid idiocy and alienate voters, so there's that to reccomend it.

      We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security. Dwight Eisenhower

      by JesseCW on Sat May 22, 2010 at 09:40:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Of course Boner's for it. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The most dangerous place in the world is between boner and a camera.

    Today, 5/22/10, 6500 US and allied soldiers, and untold Iraqis and Afghans are dead. Pres. Obama, you inherited Bush's lies, now stop the madness.

    by boilerman10 on Sat May 22, 2010 at 09:28:21 AM PDT

  •  It is just like any meeting (0+ / 0-)

    Are there rules about what will be discussed?Anyone in charge when Boehner and Co start on how Obama is destroying the country?I dont think this is a productive way to solve the problem.But the Dems will come over better than Boehner/McConnell and Co so go for it.

  •  He's Full of Crap - It's All Optics For Him (0+ / 0-)

    They'll have video showing that they "engaged" in a debate and will then vote against it.

    Sometimes I just want to punch that man or loosen his tie - the man literally looks uptight.

  •  Cameras discourage elected officials ... (0+ / 0-)

    ... from doing the banks' will.  Did you notice how many people voted for amendments nobody expected could get past the lobbyists and their money, once they were put to a public vote?

    Not all those amendments passed, but 32 votes for Kaufman/Brown was unthinkable a few months ago.  And why do you think they wouldn't vote on Merkley/Levin?  Nobody wanted to go on record against it.  Same here.

    I still say "televise the conference."

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