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.
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. Politico.com 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.