July 24, 2009

I'm Just a Bill... Yes, I'm Only a Bill...

There's been so much debate about this new health care reform bill. Everyone seems to have a strong opinion and be rather vocal about it, too. But there's just one small problem...

...How many people have actually read it?

I know I haven't. I tried to find it online today, determined to sit down and read at least a few parts of it. It may be one of the most important initiatives of this country's government in years, and I felt it would be unconscionable of me to remain in ignorance. But when I surfed the Net trying to find the House and Senate drafts of the bill, I realized that one was 852 pages long, and the other 615. Which makes sense, I suppose, given the bill's complexity-- but how many people have read every single one of those 1467 pages? Or even, for that matter, one of them?

It turns out that not only was I wrong that there were easily accessible drafts of the bill out there (they took me a while to find), but according to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D- Maryland) I was also wrong in my opinion that my Congressmen and -women had read those drafts themselves. Apparently the bill would end up with "very few votes" if every Congressperson had to read it before voting. Okay, so I don't have the strongest faith in the United States government, but up until today I'd at least given them credit for reading legislation before voting it into law!

Even President Obama seems to not have read the whole lengthy text, which is somewhat understandable in that it is hundreds of pages long- but not at all understandable in that he is its most vocal and prominent advocate. Shouldn't he be aware of what he's promoting? Shouldn't we all be aware of the content of a bill that could change the way this country operates- possibly permanently?

Now, I'm not saying I'm against the reform; but neither can I endorse it, for the one good reason that I haven't had the time to read all 1467 pages yet. I'd be happy to lend my support or (perhaps more likely) my constructive criticism- but if I haven't read it I can't really report on it, now can I?

This whole situation reminds me of fourth-graders on Thursday nights, searching for CliffNotes because they haven't read the book on which they're supposed to be writing a report.

Only this is a whole lot more important.

Here are the long-sought and hard-won URL addresses for drafts of the bill from the House of Representatives and the Senate, respectively:

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