Why not “read the bills”? Because Congress can’t figure them out either
So much for the “read the bills” movement:
There’s a growing movement at town hall meetings and online to make sure members of Congress read the entire health care reform bill before they vote on it, and to make it available to the public at least 72 hours before a vote.
“Read the bill” is typically another way of saying “not so fast,” but there’s no denying the idea’s appeal. Too many bills have been rushed to a vote in Congress with too little time for scrutiny.
There’s just one hitch: You could read the entire health bill and still not have a very good idea of how the plan would work. Legislative language is notoriously, necessarily murky. Take the opening lines of one of the bill’s most controversial sections, the one about voluntary “end of life” counseling:
“SEC. 1233. ADVANCE CARE PLANNING CONSULTATION. (a) Medicare. — (1) IN GENERAL. — Section 1861 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395x) is amended — (A) in subsection (s)(2) — (i) by striking ‘and’ at the end of subparagraph (DD); (ii) by adding ‘and’ at the end of subparagraph (EE); and (iii) adding at the end the following new subparagraph: ‘(FF) advance care planning consultation (as defined in subsection (hhh)(1) … “
Got that? Most members of Congress and most Americans could read all 1,017 pages of the House bill (to be fair, much of it isn’t quite this opaque) and come away with a confused picture about what it all means.
In my home state of Georgia, many legislators rely solely on lobbyists or legislative council, lawyers that help members draft legislation in legal terms.
There is a quote from one of our Founding Fathers, I can’t remember the quote or who said it (maybe Madison), but the jist was that laws should be written plainly and concise the most common American could understand it.
As USA Today has noted, that is not the state of our legislative system today, and hasn’t been for sometime.