The details of health care legislation hardly matter anymore; it’s the vast expansion of federal bureaucratic control over medicine that counts to proponents.
Throughout the summer, the country was roiled in a curiously shifting debate. President Obama insisted something be passed quickly — before August, if possible. Democratic leaders made no bones about the fact they wanted something rammed through before a summer recess.
Forced to act quickly, defenders of the free market in medicine — or as much of a free market as remains — seized on a few obvious implications of the proposal, including the kind of financial triage that would cut costs by rationing expensive care to those near the end of life, characterized by the critics as “death panels.”
Proponents insisted there were no death panels in the legislation — at the same time they insisted they were removing that provision.
The odd thing about this whole debate about what was “in there,” is that there wasn’t any “there.” That is to say, there was no single definitive version of a Democratic health care reform bill that all parties could study, analyze and debate.
And it now appears there never will be — right up to the hour of a final vote.
Republicans — and even some Democratic senators, more recently — have been insisting that a final version of the bill be posted on the Internet for the public — and members of Congress — to read, at least 72 hours before any final vote.
But the Senate Finance Committee defeated that amendment, 13-10.
And at least one Democratic senator has now been honest enough to say it wouldn’t matter, anyway, because the actual legislative language being hammered out is such indecipherable gibberish that no one could understand it, anyway.
Instead, Sen. Thomas Carper, D-Del., says committee members are working from a plain-English summary of what’s supposedly in the bill.
“I don’t expect to actually read the legislative language because reading the legislative language is among the more confusing things I’ve ever read in my life,” Sen. Carper told CNS News correspondent Nicholas Ballasy last week.
Sen. Carper described the type of language in which the actual text of the bill would finally be drafted as “arcane,” “confusing,” “hard stuff to understand,” and “incomprehensible.” He said he’ll read the plain-English version but, “The idea of reading the legislative language, it’s just anyone who says that they can do that and actually get much out of it is trying to pull the wool over our eyes.”
But Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who also serves on the committee, says the descriptive “plain-English” summaries the committee is working with are misleading because new provisions can be slipped into the actual text unseen.
One-sixth of the American economy is about to be restructured through legislative language that even one of its proponents admits will not be read, cannot be read because it is indecipherable, by those who will vote it up or down on our behalf.
And to think some people, this week, are tuning in old Jamie Lee Curtis movies on TV, or visiting Halloween haunted houses for the thrill of spending a few minutes being afraid.