Furious that senators will be voting health care legislation they haven’t yet read? Angry that it won’t be posted online so you can read it, too? Well, it’s worse than that. The Baucus health care reform bill can neither be read in full nor posted online because it doesn’t actually exist, except in concept, according to an alarming report.
Bits and pieces are leaking out, but entire sections will be added [after the vote]. That’s what happened with the House version. Nobody read the bill, and 75 “phantom” amendments were added after the vote. A similar maneuver happened in the Senate when a key committee approved another version of a sweeping health care bill in July without seeing the text. Actual language was unveiled months later in September.
In short, senators will follow recent precedent and be voting on something that does not even exist yet.
This would help explain why the Congressional Budget Office “scored” the bill as a concept rather than a piece of legislation:
Even the Congressional Budget Office, which issued a report this week saying the Baucus plan would cost under $900 billion instead of more than a trillion, was operating without actual text. When the CBO crunched the detailed, 1,018-page House version this summer, it reported that it would cost far more than President Obama claimed. Obama then broke precedent and summoned the CBO director to the White House for a “talk.” Now the CBO says the Senate bill will cost less. They think. They hope. They speculate.
If you’re a tax-paying member of the public as opposed to [insert joke here about appointed and elected officials who are less than meticulous about paying for the gigantic programs they create], this is shocking. But Democrats on the Hill? Not so much:
What’s more, CNSNews.com reports that an aide to Sen. Harry Reid said that current debates may be irrelevant because an entirely different version might be inserted into an unrelated House tax bill, HR 1586. That’s the measure that levies a 90 percent tax on bonuses given to executives of firms that receive bailout money. Among other things, this could be a way of getting around the constitutional requirement that all tax bills originate in the House.
Sen. Reid continues to insist that he wants a “public option” that would lead to a “single-payer” system, which means the end of private insurance and the dawn of socialized medicine. Just ask Barney Frank. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this week that she has the votes necessary to ram through a bill with “the public option” as soon as it comes back to her chamber.