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  • Read the Bill! What Bill?

    Live from the Senate Finance Committee Mark-up

    During the Senate Finance Committee mark up of the Baucus health bill today Senator Bunning of Kentucky put forth an innovative amendment. This amendment stipulated that before voting on the measure in Committee, legislative language would have to be accessible to the public for 72 hours and that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) would need to publish an official tally of how much this bill will cost the American people and what the real impact will be on health costs.

    There are several key points to the importance of this amendment that have to be highlighted:

    1. What the Finance Committee is debating and amending is a 220-page conceptual outline of policy changes that will not be translated into actual legislative language until after the committee finishes debating and voting on amendments to this conceptual document.
    2. The Chairman’s reasoning for not allowing his colleagues, and the American people, to see the full legislative text is…Senate Finance Committee tradition. Alone among congressional committees, it seems, the Senate Finance Committee follows this bizarre tradition. Tax law, you see, is infinitely more technical and complex than other policy areas. Huh? Anyone looked closely at, say, the cap-and-trade bill? Or any farm, or immigration, bill? Or any piece of significant legislation for that matter? Several Democratic senators touted this practice as superior to what other committees do because few, if any, ordinary American citizens would be able to understand the actual legislative text. Talking points for everyone! Never mind those nettlesome legislative details behind that curtain!
    3. The Chairman argued that CBO will score the actual legislative text before floor consideration and that the committee will reconcile any differences that emerge. But Republican Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas countered, pointing out that some of the significant differences between the concept document and the legislative text are regulatory in nature and will be missed by this reliance on CBO.

    The amendment failed 11-12 on nearly a party line vote. Senator Blanche Lincoln (AR) was the sole Democrat to support this attempt at transparency. The bottom line: when the committee completes its work on this re-make of one-sixth of our economy, Senators will have voted on a phantom – a bill that does not exist with costs that are unknowable until, that is, the unelected legislative draftsmen write the real bill in some back room on Capitol Hill.

    Right now, the media that is covering every twist and turn of the committee’s “mark up” has ignored this quaint Senate tradition and what it means. Weren’t we taught after all, in our high school civics classes that lawmakers work on laws, not vague concepts? And where is all the analysis of the implications of this tradition on the calls for transparency? And what of the growing demands from citizens that lawmakers read the bill before voting for it? What if there is no bill to read?

    Posted in Obamacare [slideshow_deploy]

    25 Responses to Read the Bill! What Bill?

    1. Pingback: » Financial News Update – 09/23/09 NoisyRoom.net: Where liberty dwells, there is my country…

    2. marcia says:

      with september almost gone we have 3 years and 3 months to go……what will be left of the nation?

    3. Pingback: Read the Bill! What Bill? « Prayer, News & Action

    4. Albert campbellsvill says:

      If there is not there should be a web site that explains every bill in plain laguage before it is voted on.

    5. Tod, Colorado says:

      Wake up America, They are hiding all kinds of sneaky crap and they know it.

    6. Normca says:

      11 to 12 – its going to be interesting to find out which Republicans voted no to Bunning's amendment. The trouble today is the same as when George Bush supposedly had the majority in the Senate. Too many Republic rats to get the agenda passed. The mantra continues "Bush spent too much money" Ah, but it was the same bunch that probably voted "No" on the Bunning amendment that spent the money. Farm bill, highway bill, etc etc. And Bush wanted funding for the Iraq war to continue and not become hostage to the wayward dems and rats. Well, Bush won that war and the rats remain. And people like Beck, Ingram, Roberts, Crystal etal continue to say Bush spent too much. We can see who really spent the money today with the example of 11 to 12.

    7. Cathy Amelio, New Je says:

      How arrogant! The beltway crowd truly believe that the American people are dumb. We don't need any bill in plain language, if those dimwits can read a bill the general public will as well!

      They better know that the American people are watching all of those blood suckers!

      2010 is just to far away! Vote them all out! Shake them up! Term limitations in the House and Senate is desperately needed!

      Please God help us!

    8. Jack-South Bend says:

      Vote these sneaky arrogant bums out of office

    9. Bill, Kansas City, M says:

      Not only are they hiding the bill from the public, the CBO has done their mark up of the bill. When the Senate Budget Committee asked about the CBO scoring, Baucus said it is something they don't want to discuss in public. So much for transparency in government.

    10. JAB says:

      I am a very healthy senior, in fact one of my daughters says i am "as healthy as a horse". Thank God for that, and thank God i will not be alive long enough to see the full fruits of the weakness of too many voters, and the even weaker man they elected as our president. Thomas Sowell and i agree on that, as well as other issues that are producing a living version of "1984". Hang on folks, our lives are about to get very ugly! Unless—, we act in unison to preserve our Constitution, and get rid of all of the corrupt in Washington, regardless of their party affiliation. I have become a CONSERVATIVE, with no allegiance to any political party or candidate, other than Sarah Palin.

      God Bless America.

    11. Jeanne Stotler, wood says:

      Fox News is broadcasting from Congress now, the people there are fighting among themselves, I wonder also what they are hiding, Where is the transpancy?, anything this vital should be available to us to review and allow us to contact OUR elected officials, when are these arragant so and so's going to realize that THEY WORK FOR US and WE CAN FIRE THEM, and we will come 2010, and Impeachment can be brought against Obama for acts of Treason.

    12. AN AMERICAN says:

      The latest scoop is that Senator Snowe (R) ME may be caving again! She was on of 3 that signed on to stimulus that was snuck by the people and Congress (no surprise since they don't READ the bills). But Americans deserve to READ the bills and have enough time to do so.

      MAINE RESIDENTS – Please start knocking her door down with calls and emails; she represents her COUNTRY and not just the PORK she may be offered for her "constituents.

    13. Loyd Reddig, Weather says:

      Send them home in 2010. That will get their attention. No more cush retirement packages.

    14. Joan Boyd says:

      A response to Marcia and one for Albert.

      Marcia: We can make an enormous difference in 2010. The message we send will definitely deter more of what we are experiencing.

      Albert: I like the way you think. Not only will it be a good thing for 'We The People….' but Congress could read it too. :-)

    15. Ross writes from Bra says:

      What's wrong with plain, simple language with a subject and a predicate that my english professors demanded. After all we can't rely on the media/press to keeping us properly informed.

      Regretfully, our failed government school system has not prepared the sovereign(that's us, the voter) to read, much less understand simple english, forget understanding "actual legislative language". Legalese and fuzzy math is the deceptive language and illogical math of our legislators at all levels. No wonder our country is in trouble.

      For fun, on a rainy Sunday afternoon, try diagram a legalese sentence…oh…I forgot…you weren't taught how to diagram. No need to embarass ourselves with our math abilities.

    16. Georga, Rio Rancho, says:

      How do we stop the government from acting unconstituitionally? Can we sue? My rights as an American citizen are being violated. The government has no rights, only power, and I'm concerned we have given them too much. They don't want us to see the bill because they know they have some more dissent. They can't handle the truth.

      Yes to term limits.

      Vote them out.

    17. L. R. Crane, Louisia says:

      Waiting for the next election to vote these people out may be too late. Action should be taken much sooner. What can be done now?

    18. jim smith says:

      What I find annoying is the fact that Nobama hides everything we may not like. Then, the issues he does talk about are presented as fully twisted lies and vague promises (also lying).

      There should be a privately financed study of the constituitionality of any legislation introduced, passed and now being considered to learn how we can get our country back. Meanwhile, the feckless, bed wetting media beats back protests about czars, believing that the number of actual czars is lower than others claim. One czar is about four too many.

    19. Bo says:

      So, let me see if I have this right. The citizens of this country elect officials to go to Washington to represent them, but when they get there they instead vote on bills in a manner that, in their minds, they think is in the best interest of their constituents, regardless of what the majority of his/her consituents tell them? And the only option we have is to vote them out of office in their next election cycle?, after they have done the damage? When issues come up after an official is in office, that is, an issue that was never discussed in the campaign for his/her election, then s/he does what they think is in our best interest? Recently the House passed a bill that gives the government sole determination on who gets student loans and at what rate. Did you know that? Did you have an opportunity to discuss it with your representatives? It just happened one day and I found out about it, after the fact. I am outraged that Congress passes any bill that isn't completely discussed by the citenzenry for its merits. What is the rush to pass bills? Can't we just call a moratorium on bills while we catch our breath and explain to Congressmen that we want a part in government 'of the people, by the people and for the people?'

    20. Pingback: Fix Health Care Policy | House Speaker Pelosi Commits to 72-Hour Wait Period for Health Vote

    21. t.e.l. texas says:

      Yes to term limits. And to get their attention now everyone can re-register

      as a independent. That should get the attention of both dems. and reps.

    22. charles, bonita (san says:

      Didn't this idiot we have for a president promise "5 days" and "transperancy" during his campaign? Why then are we debating 72 hours? HE IS LYING RIGHT TO OUR FACE, AMERICA! WAKE UP!

    23. Lynn B. DeSpain says:

      Obama promised transparancy in all Government Affairs, including the three day reading of all Bills for all America to read prior to their being voted on. So much for transparancy, all I see is flat, black paint.


    24. Pingback: Michelle Morin » Blog Archive » 9/28/09 URGENT Health Care Alert & Update

    25. Bob T. Hawaii says:

      I have sent numerous letters to the blue dog democrats as well, as my local leaders, and The president and vice president themselves concerning this bill. I continue to remind them of the phrase in the inguration luncheon prayer,"Empower them with the wisdom courage and strength needed for our times. Protect them from any moral arrogance, that obstructs them from the making of a world of Justice Peace and Righteousness." That is not only not happening, but is getting worse with each day. Because I grew up in Chicago and being a conservative that happens to be Black, I am certainly not surprsed at the way this administration is progressing. it is indeed the Chicago way. So much corruption.

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