The $5 million per second health care “debate”

When the Senate Health Committee on Wednesday passed its version of Obamacare, the President, with Sen. Dodd (D. Ct.) standing at his side, applauded the committee’s effort.  Our President explained that the committee had “engaged” in 50 hours of debate before passing the bill.  All in attendance at this press conference were beaming with joy, and, of course, applauding.

This “photo op” reminded me of the folks who stand on the dais at the closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange every day.  Even when the market is down over 400 points, when the closing bell sounds, they all smile broadly, and, of course, applaud.

Looking beyond the smiles and clapping hands, I decided to do some math.  Fifty hours of debate equates to 180,000 seconds of debate.  As the cost of Obamacare is pegged at $1 trillion dollars (actually, it’s far more, but, as they say, at that point, whose counting), that means the Senate committee spent $5 million for every second of debate.

Realizing how redicuously insignifant the 50 hour debate was using the “dollars spent per second” standard, I decided I should use another approach to explain the “smiles and applauding” of the photo op.

Rounding it off, the health care proposal is 1000 pages long.  A fifty hour “debate” means that Sen. Dodd’s committee  actually spent about 3 minutes per page in the “debate”.  Personally, I doubt that a page could be both read and comprehended in 3 minutes, much less debated.  So, that standard, too, doesn’t make much sense, and certainly doesn’t explain the smiles and applause.

I suspect we all agree that our health care system, though the best in the world, needs changes.  But, this proposal takes all of the good things in the system and, throws them out with the bad.  Why the rush?

President Obama aspires to be remembered in history as someone who has changed the course of this country…much like Lincoln.  But, Mr. President, I can assure you that should your health care as now proposed become law, within 5 years of its implementation, you will become the most reviled president in our history.  Your sleight of hand, in demanding immediate passage of this bill before Americans understood what it meant, will be remembered, even by those who supported you.

Mr. President, step back, take your time, and do it right…then, you will then be remembered as you would like to be remembered.

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The Sound Off Sister was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and special trial attorney for the Department of Justice, Criminal Division; a partner in the Florida law firm of Shutts & Bowen, and an adjunct professor at the University of Miami, School of Law. The Sound Off Sister offers frequent commentary concerning legislation making its way through Congress, including the health reform legislation passed in early 2010.


  1. libertarian27 on July 20, 2009 at 3:34 am
    SOS – Look here*Waving*

    $5Mil a second – great work if you can find it.

    For the 100 Senators – their overall 'discussion' cost per second is $50,000.

    There are 22 Senators on the Committee, their 'discussions' equaled $227,272 per second.

    The Committee covers Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

    Of course they spent no time on the other sections of their committee 'responsibility'/sarc.

  2. theignorantfisherman on July 21, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    what a bargain! lol! is that the speed tax payers are being robbed?

  3. theignorantfisherman on July 21, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    What a bargain! Is that the rate that tax payers are being robbed?

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