Just Read It

Friday, September 11, 2009


Some opponents of the President's health care plan have been berating lawmakers with entreaties to "read the bill," implying that members of Congress often don't read the laws they vote on. Harper's Ken Silverstein says the protesters are probably right, but they're missing the point.

    Music Playlist
  • Joe Henry
    Artist: Death to the Storm

Comments [10]

Xavier Rynne from Iowa

I am always hopeful of finding a true critique on the news media, however weekly, I continue to be disappointed that your reports seem to suffer from the same bias reporting as many on the media on either side. It is incredibly interesting watching the Fox vs White House battle and the way the media covers it. It seems that your critique of the media tends to follow the same notions and bias views as main stream media as well as the conservative formats. I was hoping for a program that cut through the superficial and the shrill to really give an honest critique of news media coverage. Perhaps in the future you can genuinely step back from it all and be truly critical of all views from the news media including NPR.

Nov. 02 2009 12:59 PM
Francisco from Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

There is an argument among some people in Britain on whether the UK has too much legislation:


Please note that Lord Norton confirmed that (in reply to a question I asked), in the British Parliament, each clause is debated. If people do not know what they are signing up to then maybe they should produce less legislation?

Sep. 15 2009 03:55 AM
Dale Humbert from Saginaw, MI

How can we have confidence in congress’s ability to develop a workable plan if they are personally exempt from the plan? If it is good for Americans, why do we need a separate plan for congress and federal employees? This smacks of disrespect for the principles of a government “Of the people, for the people and by the people.”
Why should we expect separate health care plans, one for the royals in government and a different one for us peons, to work out better than our current separate retirement plans? Social Security has become the biggest domestic time bomb and failed promise in our history. If such threats were against our congressmen’s pension, it would get fixed - now.
Congress clearly rejected the proposed health care bill for themselves. The Senate Health Committee voted 12-11 in favor of a two-page amendment, courtesy of Republican Tom Coburn, that would require all Members and their staffs to enroll in any new government-run health plan. Yet all Democrats - with the exceptions of acting chairman Chris Dodd, Barbara Mikulski and Ted Kennedy via proxy - voted nay. President Obama’s flippant response to the royal question in public debate was clearly not presidential.
House Resolution 615, the house version of ‘one health plan for all’ continues to receive a tremendous positive response from the public. (http://fleming.house.gov/index.html )
Little attention has been given to the royal question. Most every legislator and commentator is using the old trick of answering only the easy questions among the many questions on the table. For example, focusing on health care for the illegal immigrants is child’s play compared to the royal question.

Sep. 14 2009 01:23 PM
Ross Schriftman from Horsham, PA

How many members now that HR3200 and the Senate Help Bills make it very unlikely that people can actually keep their same insurance plan? That is because only people who buy coverage through the Exchanges set up by the Federal Government will get tax breaks. Keeping your current plan will only be for people who don't want a tax break.

How many members of Congress now that both of these bills have a national long term care insurance plan that wokrers pay into for 5 years BEFORE they actually are covered? Try to explain that to consituents who get sick and need long term care and discover that the government insurance plan will pay NOTHING because the voter only paid 55 months; not 60 months into the plan?

This is the problem and part of the anger people have. The President did say, "Of Course, the details need to be worked out" He got laughter about this because, as they say, the Devil is in the details.

Sep. 13 2009 08:51 PM
Ross Schriftman from Horsham, PA

Having run for Pa Legislator I was amazed and appalled on the comments this morning. Would you buy insurance from an insurance agent that never bothered to read and understand the policy he or she was selling?

Would you go to a heart surgeon who gets a summary from his staff on how to perform an operation?

Why isn't their legislative malpractice laws. Off course the members should read the bills they are voting on. They should NOT be forced to vote on something as soon as mark ups are done. There should be at least one week after final amendments for everyone to have time to understand what they are voting on.

Depending on staff to tell members what is in the bill is not good enough. For 20 years I have voluntarily gone to Washington. Most staffers are young, enthusiastic people who went to the Hill right from College. They usually don't have real world experience. Senior staff come from Campaigns or Lobbying Firms. Again, not much real world experience.

If I were a member of Congress, I would propose a bill to create personal liability for members who fail to understand what they are voting on.

In my profession, everyone selling Medicare products must get at least 85% on an on-line exam or they are not able to sell their products. How bought a course for legislators on what is in the Constitution.

Ross Schriftman

Sep. 13 2009 08:40 PM
Patricia Entwistle

A side by side comparison of all current bills can be found at the Kaiser Family Foundation website: http://healthreform.kff.org/

Sep. 13 2009 07:21 PM
Lisa Ross from Minneapolis, MN

Regarding the "read the bill" segment:
I sought out information on HR3200, HR676, HR1321 and S391 after a hearing comment that all these proposals result in being "just like Canada". That assertion highlighted the real gap in understanding the average person has about the proposals. In my search for information, I found the following helpful sources (some of which were not highlighted on the show). HR3200 is roughly what the President highlighted in his speech, with a few alterations/additions.

A copy of the bill & summary of HR3200

Energy & commerce fact sheets (these are very short & sweet)

Ways & Means Committee - check out those FAQs

Education & Labor (boy these guys are DRY. But J Kline from MN is active in this Committee and made several amendments that I haven't had a chance to review yet....)

Copy of bill & summary of HR 676

This bill has its own website too
S391 (click "CRS Summary" for a one-page starting point)


Sep. 13 2009 04:33 PM
Steven from Phoenix

Nice segment, just stopping short of calling protesters who chant "Read The Bill" rubes. AND this poor journalism completely missed the point of the chant: 1. Obama promised to read every bill he signed, then never read the TARP bill, so he won't be reading any health care legislation if it hits his desk (READ THE BILL! READ THE BILL!) and 2. These bills are needlessly complicated and fraught with lobbyist demands and earmarks. Bills should be written and passed without all this crap. They need to be clear and manageable and understandable (READ THE BILL! READ THE BILL!).

Sep. 13 2009 04:26 PM

I have to conclude that some of these people are just lying about having read the whole thing. through. I encountered a blog online whose author said that she had read the whole thing through and illegal aliens are covered, but Sec 246 is titled "NO FEDERAL PAYMENT FOR UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS," and states: "Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States." How does someone reqad the whole thing and miss the relevant passage?

Besty McCaughney, in her Daily Show appearance, claimed that you had to read the entire bill to understand the parts, therefore rending her interpretation superior to anyone's who had only read the controversial parts, but I edited lawbooks for five years, and laws aren't written that way. A law where you have to read the whole thing to determine the individual provisions would be useless. No lawyer or judge is going to do that.

Sep. 13 2009 11:02 AM

What a joke!

Not that every legislator shouldn't know well what they are signing, but the Republican hypocrisy is absolutely mind-numbing.

The Republican Congress wasn't called the "rubber-stamp" Congress for nothing!

Republicans were notorious for not reading ANYTHING they voted on.
They made an industry of bill writing by lobbyists in creating K-Street, and they signed onto anything stuck under their noses by those who paid without reading a word.
Never before had virtually all legislation been subject to approval by moneyed interests... now we're all stuck with the corrupt system Republicans instituted!

On top of that, not a single Republican has read any of the Health Care Reform legislation, or they wouldn't consistently get the provisions wrong... that, or they admit to out-right lying. Same goes for the pea-brained town hall disruptors.

Sep. 12 2009 12:49 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.