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Demanding Time to Read the Health-Care Bill

If reason and common sense always prevailed in Washington, a pending request from eight lawmakers who want to make the consideration of the Senate's health-care bill more transparent would be a no-brainer. But this being Washington, no such thing is guaranteed.

For starters, independent Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut and seven moderate Democrats, including Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Evan Bayh of Indiana and Jim Webb of Virginia, have asked Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) to post online the text of the Senate bill and the costs of the legislation as determined by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) -- and they want it posted 72 hours before senators start to vote. If -- more likely when -- amendments are offered, the band of senators wants these amendments and relevant CBO cost estimates posted three days before senators weigh in on the altered version.

This is utterly reasonable -- and probably completely meaningless. Health care, as we all know, is perhaps the most contentious, complicated and consequential legislative push taken up in recent years, and it will likely affect every single one of us. We should demand the right to know beforehand what, specifically, health-care policymakers have in mind. And there's no better way to do that than to eschew slogans, ditch the propaganda and actually study what they've already committed to paper.

Yet most of us won't bother. It's understandable, actually: Who honestly has the time to read some 1,000 pages of legalistic drivel unless you're paid to do so. (Think: health-care lobbyist or journalist.) Even if we had the time, most of us would rather undergo surgery (and pay a $500 deductible -- if you have insurance) than be forced to spend hours with this bloated legislative beast. So what will inevitably happen? We'll dispense with any hard work and, depending on our political preferences, tune in to either MSNBC or Fox News to affirm our (uninformed) suspicions.

So here's a word of advice for Harry Reid, who may be afraid of posting the unadulterated and deal-packed versions of the bill: Go ahead, post it! Celebrate transparency! And then listen for the clicks -- of remote controls surfing through the channels.

By Eva Rodriguez  | October 7, 2009; 2:37 PM ET
Categories:  Rodriguez  | Tags:  Eva Rodriguez  
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Comments


It's a Catch-22.

The government told food manufacturers to put the ingredients on a label. The agricorps used scientific names, metric quantities and every other trick to make sure ordinary Americans could never decipher any of it.

Our trusted government leaders will publish legislation, but they will make sure ordinary Americans could never decipher any of it.

..

Posted by: DEFJAX | October 7, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

It's a Catch-22.

The government told food manufacturers to put the ingredients on a label. The agricorps used scientific names, metric quantities and every other trick to make sure ordinary Americans could never decipher any of it.

Our trusted government leaders will publish legislation, but they will make sure ordinary Americans could never decipher any of it.

..
--------------
Ordinary Americans should get a better education. Why should smart people carter to stupid people? All that does is make it easier for everyone to be stupid.

Posted by: Independent4tw | October 7, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I do pay attention to the food labels. I'm ordinary. I can read fat content/fiber content/total calories.
I think that the Insurance companies are the ones that are acting similar to the agricorps, actually, Insurance companies are acting much more aggressivly to confuse Americans.
I do believe Americans can figure out that if we pay into a non-profit public plan, the same amount as we pay into our regular insurance plans, where there is no CEO averaging 13.5 million a year involved, that the public plan will be a reduction in cost to insurance paying Americans.

Posted by: mjpierno | October 7, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Uh Defjax, your statement is a little off-

"The agricorps used scientific names, metric quantities and every other trick to make sure ordinary Americans could never decipher any of it." If the corporations are the ones making it hard to read, how is that government's fault?

Posted by: emayrogers | October 7, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I do pay attention to the food labels. I'm ordinary. I can read fat content/fiber content/total calories.
I think that the Insurance companies are the ones that are acting similar to the agricorps, actually, Insurance companies are acting much more aggressivly to confuse Americans.
I do believe Americans can figure out that if we pay into a non-profit public plan, the same amount as we pay into our regular insurance plans, where there is no CEO averaging 13.5 million a year involved, that the public plan will be a reduction in cost to insurance paying Americans.

Posted by: mjpierno | October 7, 2009 3:45 PM |
-------------
True.

There also will be less cost because the non-profit insurance company will not pay lawyers to sit in a room and deny claims.

There also will be less cost because the non-profit insurance company will not spend a few million dollars A DAY lobbying Washington.

There also will be less cost because the non-profit insurance companies will not deny claims, which will reduce the cost of lawsuits that people file just so that they are covered like they should have been in the first place.

There are a lot of reasons why a non-profit insurance option would be just as good but MUCH cheaper. The only reason people are against a public non-profit insurance plan is because they are too stupid to realize when they are being lied too by lobbyists.

Is there a death panel clause in the public option? NO.

Will the public option pay for abortion? NO.

Will the public option pay for illegals? NO.

Will the public option ration your care more then the private insurance companies already do? NO.

Will insurance lobbyists say ANYTHING to trick stupid people so that they can keep making record profits? YES.

Do stupid people believe the lies that I have just said were not true? YES.

Is it because they are too lazy to read the bills for themselves? YES.

Is this country being ruined because not enough people have an education after high school? YES.


Posted by: Independent4tw | October 7, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

I disagree. Yes, there will be interest groups who will pore over the legislation and offer their interpretation. That's OK. Is the absence of that opportunity better? I think not.

Even for the average person, there is value. For instance, you can use search tools to see whether particular issues you are interested in are addressed by the legislation --- this doesn't require you to read the entire bill, legalese and all. I searched the term "abortion" in HR3200 and found no instances of its use, which alerted me that there was nothing in the bill that prohibited funds authorized under the bill to be used for that purpose. The phrase "family planning services" or fragments thereof was cited nine times. One doesn't need to be a genius to figure out what is going on.

Similarly, there was no yield on search terms such as "E-Verify," "undocumented workers," "illegal aliens," etc., which told me all I needed to know about the absence of a requirement to verify citizenship.

None of this took more than a few minutes.

What are Harry and Nan afraid of? They ought to be afraid of November, 2010. It will be here sooner than you think.

Posted by: Curmudgeon10 | October 7, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Ordinary Americans should get a better education. Why should smart people carter to stupid people? All that does is make it easier for everyone to be stupid.

Posted by: Independent4tw | October 7, 2009 3:39 PM
''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''

Most ordinary Americans did read the Health Care Bill (I did all 1018 pages) & saw what a Bill should not contain. Some parts were good, some were horrible, but as a whole is was poop.

What do you think got the ordinary Americans to be so vocal this summer and I for one hope they kick any Senator out of office that voted NO on posting the Bill on Line & as well as the cost that will affect all Americans.

The deficit will go up by at least 1 trillion Dollar no mater who looks at the Bill, and everyone with any sense can see that.

Some people can't afford insurance, so how the heck are they to pay the $1,500.00 fine for a family for one year.

YOU CAN BET THE NEW POWERS THAT THE PRESIDENT GAVE THE IRS WILL COME IN VERY HANDY FOR THAT COLLECTION PURPOSE.

Only very stupid people would not want to know the costs to We the People.

Posted by: wildfire1946 | October 7, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

This is not a debate about the healthcare bill, here, folks. It's a debate about the promised TRANSPARENCY that has not happened.

Mr. Obama promised a minimum of 48 hours, Harry says: 'NO'. Same with the other bills.

DEFJAX makes a good point. Why isn't it in language anyone can understand with an 8th grade education? Same with all the bills that come out of Congress. Why is doing your taxes so difficult?

And as far as abortion or illegal immgnts. go, you might check the law on that. If it's not specifically denied, by law it's permitted. So why isn't the bill specific about those issues?

Folks, we can't trust our lawmakers. This is worse than 'taxation without representation".
This is fraudulent representation.

Time to put down my signature again:
Robert Treat Paine.

Posted by: bryuer | October 7, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I find this so funny. Do you think that people are making this stuff up? Read the original house bill. All of the things you mentioned are in the first 250 pages. Regardless of what they say on TV, these things ARE in the bill. Most of them have admitted that they haven't read the bill themselves, yet you believe every word out of their mouth. Who will control what is and is not covered? The bill states that a committee will do this. The committee is not elected, they are appointed by the president and the health czar. How will they control costs? Eventually, they will cut coverage which is rationing of care. Who will keep investing in new advanced medicine? No one, because there will be no financial reward. No new drugs or procedures is exactly what other countries are trying to overcome who already have this public "option". You can keep your plan if you like it. Another lie from the man himself. You can keep it. If you have a private plan before the option is implemented, you can keep it. It is illegal to purchase one after that. If you change jobs, or coverage of any kind, you will lose your private plan. Period. You can keep your current plan....for a while. Stop being a sheep led around by the most underqualified president in the history of our country. Learn to read.

Posted by: theonefisher1 | October 7, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Harry Reid et al are not afraid of Joe Q. Public reading the bill.

What they are afraid of is conservative radio and Fox news getting the details of the health care bill online, to feed to their crews of researchers, and have them churn out in the light of day all of the corruption, pork, and nonsense of the bill. 72 hours is enough time for them to do that, and broadcast the problems to the people. 30 hours (which has been the norm) is not enough time.

This refusal to air the bill 72 hours in advance is obvious corruption and abuse of the powers entrusted to them by the public. The Democrats who blocked this rule should be ashamed. If your bill is a good thing, it should stand up to scrutiny. Only roaches hide in the dark.

Posted by: Wiggan | October 7, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

What's the difference? This bill isn't for the American public anyway.

It's just another way for the "people's representatives" (sic) to funnel taxpayer money to their favorite industries/lobbyists/supporters.

What the people want, or what is good for America and Americans, has nothing to do with it.

The idea of "Government of the people, by the people and for the people" perished from the patch of earth known as Washington many decades ago.

Baucus would not even let doctors in favor of a public option testify.

Posted by: WhatHeSaid | October 7, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Always Remember "The Peacekeepers" 241 Marines, KIA on Oct. 23,1983, Beirut, Lebanon. While they slept by an Iran backed Hezbollah JIHADIST.

After starting to read the Spending Bill that was passed as a STIMULAS BILL. It did not take long to realize WE THE PEOPLE were getting screwed. It was a nice educational experiance to learn how vast the government is. Never knew there was so many agencies. First time seeing some of the catchy legal jargon.

One point you make which is the most valid is that it does seem like a NO BRAINER. Instead of a NO BRAINER it should be a LAW.

WE THE PEOPLE have a right to read about what OUR MONEY is being spent on. The whole problem is that the POLITICIANS think it is THE GOVERNMENTS MONEY they are wasting.

Posted by: 79USMC83 | October 7, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

How visible is our health?
With healthcare being most likely the largest concern for any American right now, it would only seem reasonable to post the 1,000 page bill online. Since you’re right chances are that most of us are too lazy to read it, but at least the public should have the ability to respond to the measure 3 days before it is voted on. Any fear that ensues from visibility makes it seem that there’s something to hide and gives actually more incentive for this bill to be understood by the public. Regardless of whether or not there are insidious measures hiding in the 1,000 pages, the attempt to keep it covert will probably serve to delay the bill even more because of an outraged public.

Posted by: SelbyCole | October 7, 2009 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Medicare type of program for all, case closed.

Posted by: shipfreakbo214 | October 7, 2009 9:17 PM | Report abuse

Everyone in DC is either so fearful of being outed, or they say it is folly to read this legislation??

What??

Let's have Congressional staffers start writing bills in plain English now!!!!!!!!!!!

Does it take a new law by congress!! ooops! They wouldn't possibly do anything that is sensible!!!

WHY?????


Posted by: jjcrocket2 | October 7, 2009 10:27 PM | Report abuse

They can post the legislation, give everyone a chance to read it, and it still won't reveal the duplicitous intent of Congress, let alone the tricks of bureaucrats.

Take the infamous "death panels". I agree that the word death panel appears nowhere in the bill. But, if you look at where the term "end of life counseling" is provided for "for free" in the House bill, it is only in the section under Medicare. Who are the people on Medicare? - OLD PEOPLE.

If "end of life counseling" is such a great idea, shouldn't the federal government provide it "for free" to twenty-three year old victims who are diagnosed with advanced and incurable AIDS virus under this National Healthcare legislation? Or, perhaps, 37 year old women with terminal breast cancer? Or, perhaps, 52 year old men who have suffered a major cardiac event?

When a group is singled out for "special" treatment under the legislation, it is correct to conclude that the government has a nefarious purpose in mind.

Posted by: magellan1 | October 7, 2009 11:56 PM | Report abuse

Who at the Post thought this sour woman had anything insightful to contribute? How does she know a bill is "bloated" and how does she know it's "drivel"? The shorter and more abstract the bills, honey, the more power agencies and courts have to make up the rules, or did her Girl Scouts civics training not get into that part of government operations? This Rodriguez post, like many others, is just snide, anti-intellectual pseudo-populist blathering. It's actually amusing that he snideness seems greater the less she knows what the hell she's talking about. She should be on FOX.

Posted by: uh_huhh | October 8, 2009 7:38 AM | Report abuse

I totally disagree with the previous poster. What is so wrong about posting the actual bill? The only catch is that, as the author says, it will be complicated and, of course, the unintended (or intended) effects will not be written in there. For example, it won't say "this will raise taxes on a large percentage of middle class workers" it will not say "everyone's health insurance premiums will sky-rocket" and it will nto say "individuals illegally in the US will still get free emergency room visits." or "This will increase unemployment by making hiring workers so much more expensive." None of that is listed in the bill--all of it will happen if the bill passes.

Posted by: sam38 | October 8, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

to the poster uh_huhh,
If you believe everything you wrote, you've never read a piece of legislation drafted by congress.

And if you don't think demanding time to read a piece of legislation that could have such a huge impact on your life is "ingightful", you're right. It's not insightful at all. It's pure common sense. Of course we should demand a legitimate opportunity to see what's being proposed. Blind trust is dangerous. It's pretty bold of you to call a Washington Post contributor "anti-intellectual" immediately following a sentence which has so many grammatical problems that it's almost unintelligible.

Posted by: theCentrist | October 8, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

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