Washington Secrets

Grover Norquist: Put secret debt ceiling talks on C-SPAN

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

Conservatives are saying enough with Washington-style transparency.

Having watched political deal-making over initiatives from Obamacare to the "fiscal cliff" take place behind closed doors, many are now pushing for the upcoming battle over the president's request to raise the debt ceiling by as much as $1.25 trillion be conducted in public.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, famous for getting House Republicans to sign a very public anti-tax pledge, even has a plan: Have C-SPAN cover the talks live.

"One of the bold promises Barack Obama made when he ran for president was that his administration would be 'the most open and transparent in history.' Fortunately for him, C-SPAN provides him the opportunity to fulfill a promise," he said in a letter to supporters announcing his initiative and transparancy webpage.

Norquist has posted a petition demanding action: "We, the undersigned, urge Congress and the president to negotiate the debt-limit, sequester, and government spending bills on national television in front of C-SPAN cameras. The era of secret backroom deals is over and we demand to know where everyone stands on camera and in public."

Typically budget negotiations are kept out of public, often resulting in so-called "Christmas Tree" legislation filled with special gifts to lawmakers demanding something or their vote. In the recent fiscal cliff talks, several new spending projects were included, angering many conservatives.

"Secrecy is the enemy of a deal where taxpayers are victorious," said Norquist. "Legislation should not be crafted in the dark of night where a politician, let alone his constituents, doesn't have the opportunity to read its language before voting on it," he added.

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