Sunday, July 26, 2009

Congress censoring Congressmen

When you can't win the debate you change the rules. Every Congressperson can send free mailing to their constituents on current issues. Historically there has been no censorship of positions - until now. Nancy Pelosi is acting more and more like the political boss her father was during her childhood in Baltimore. Bad Blood Over Health-Care Reform Spills Into Mailroom -
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 being able to send "franked" -- or free -- mail, as long as it relates to official business. Lawmakers use that ability to send newsletters and legislative updates to constituents. To ensure that the privilege is not used inappropriately, a majority of the bipartisan, six-member Franking Commission must approve each piece. Mail is blocked only on rare occasions. But now the commission has gotten involved in the health-care fight, prohibiting several Republicans from mailing out a colorful, labyrinthine chart that purports to diagram Democrats' reform plan. The controversy was first reported by Roll Call. The chart was produced by Republicans on the Joint Economic Committee and has become a popular visual aid on the minority side of the aisle as it attempts to convince the public that the Democrats' 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 cannot 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 is inaccurate, or -- arguably -- just misleading? "We have never before censored anybody's presentation of facts this way," Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) complained Friday in an interview. 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 said that Democrats this year have sent out numerous pieces of franked mail touting the number of jobs created by the economic stimulus package, and that while Republicans might disagree with those numbers, they have not moved to block the mail.
The article mentions no inaccuracy in the chart. See the chart at the House Republican Leadership's web site.

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