Don’t read the bill, just vote!

When Congress earlier this year passed the Stimulus legislation that, among other things, allowed our tax dollars to be used to pay bonuses for executives of the failed AIG, Americans were outraged. Most in Congress proclaimed surprise at this provision of the bill, explaining that they had absolutely no idea that the legislation included such language.

Then, the first version of Obamacare was released in June, and Americans began to realize that what the administration and our legislators said about Obamacare was, in many instances, in direct conflict with what the proposal actually said.

Given this background, it was not surprising to see “Read The Bill” signs displayed prominently at rallies around the country.  Sadly, not only does Congress not read the bills on which they are voting, they don’t even read their constituants’ signs.

Last week,

the Senate Finance Committee voted 12 to 11 to reject a proposal to require a 72-hour waiting period and a full scoring of the bill by the Congressional Budget Office before the committee casts any final vote. Only one Democrat, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, voted for the waiting period. Chairman Max Baucus said the idea would delay a vote on the final bill for two weeks and he didn’t want to waste another moment.

Imagine that…a bill whose provisions (with the exception of the huge taxes on insurers and the medical care industry) won’t take effect for three years, and Senator Baucus refuses to wait an extra two weeks to enable not only Congress, but also the American public to learn what is being proposed, and how much it will cost.

And, were that not outrageous enough, you need to know what another member of Congress has to say about such proposals that would allow a calm review of a bill before a vote on the bill.

Sen. Kent Conrad, (D., N.D.) who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, claims that go-slow proposals wouldn’t make any difference because only 5% of Americans will be able to understand the legalese in bills. reports him as saying: “Anybody who thinks that is going to be transparent to the American people is really not telling it like it is.”

So, bottom line for Sen. Conrad…you are too stupid to understand the simple printed words, or, we’ve made the bill so complicated that no one can understand it.  Either way, this is not what I expect from our elected leaders.

However, let me suggest a third (and less condescending) reason for the haste.  In the upcoming elections in November, New Jersey and Virginia will be electing governors, and right now, the Republican candidates are leading in the polls.  Should the Republicans win both elections before Obamacare is passed, many conservative Democrats in Congress will be forced to rethink their position…a vote for Obamacare may well become a one way ticket out of Washington.

3 replies
  1. Dimsdale
    Dimsdale says:

    Two words: plausible deniability.  Or, in my honest opinion, implausible deniability.  They (stupidly) think that if they don't read it, and just vote on it, they cannot be held responsible for those legislative "oversights" that mysteriously slipped into the legislation.


    Sorry Charlie: abdication of your responsibility is not cover, it is reason enough for you to be fired, if not on the spot, then in 2010.  This abdication should be criminal, but it is considered par for the course for our poor "overworked" politicians.  The fact that the Democrats are specifically ensuring (through bullying) that there will be no opportunity to read this bloviating trash needs to be pounded home anywhere we can get the info out.


    This is the one rare moment that I have to disagree with you, SOS: I fully expect this from our elected officials, but I am a cynic!  Or a realist….   But I do agree that legislation that is too obtuse to be read by the average citizen is a disservice to that citizen.  What these pols are really afraid of is that the "5% of us" that can read the legislation will explain it to the "95%" that allegedly cannot.


    Would you sign any contract without reading it?  No, not unless you can ensure that none of the garbage in it will apply to you, which is precisely what the Congresscritter routinely do.

  2. Jeff S
    Jeff S says:

    The Michigan congressman said, over the summer, what good is it to read a bill if you don't have a couple of days and lawyers to translate the bill.  That in itself should be cause to look at this process and stop the political games of Washington.  Word the bill in such a way that a congressman could be both for and against a bill as it serves their needs!

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