There have been a few campaign promise flops from President Obama (example: Armenian genocide), but none so obviously wrong-headed as the promise to post bills online for five days prior to putting his pen to the paper. Of the bills Obama has signed, only one — and even this one is in dispute — was posted for five days. Mary Katherine Ham notes that, yet again, the President will sign a bill, the Credit Cardholder’s Bill of Rights Act, without the promised five days public availability.
There was a pretty lengthy debate on The Open House Project list about whether this promise was even worth making to begin with. Does the posting of a bill for comment after it has been finalized really matter? The President only has two options at that point: veto or sign. Are comments really going to sway his opinion? Will a bill that might leave the President conflicted actually pass a Democratic Congress?
I’m pretty conflicted on these questions. In all honesty, the promise never made too much sense for the above mentioned reasons. However, the President could have used the five-day posting pledge, if it was followed through on, to pressure Congress to post bills online for 72 hours before they voted on it. And, of course, that is where there is a real chance that commenters could have an effect on a given bill.
Since this promise doesn’t seem like it’s going to materialize, the administration might want to explain themselves considering this February 6 blog post was their last say on the matter.