October 10, 2009

"The minutiae of legal drafting is not necessarily related to understanding the concepts in the bill."

It would be perfectly easy to put the health care bill up on the internet, but we can't have you reading the legislation. Please accept our representations about what's generally in it. Why don't you just think of it as the Fix the Problems bill and leave the complicated stuff to the experts. Mmmkay?

35 comments:

Kev said...

Why don't you just think of it as the Fix the Problems bill and leave the complicated stuff to the experts. Mmmkay?

The problem is that we don't have "experts" working on the bill--we have the members of Congress, who don't seem to have expertise in anything besides wasting other people's money and getting reelected.

(This, to me, is one of the primary reasons why I'm a supporter of term limits--for everyone in government, representative and bureaucrat alike. I want people in government who have actual expertise in the productive class, who can then come in, lend those real-world talents to true public service for a short period of time, and return to the productive class when that time is done.)

AJ Lynch said...

Reasonable Americans would settle for a two or three page executive summary, at a minimum. They should be able to provide that. If not, why not?

There is an old negotiating strategy that recommends "don't offer anything on paper unless absolutely necessary".

Photog714 said...

Not everyone in America is on an educational par with shoe clerks at Sears or the guy you pay for your gas at Raceway. Out of 305 million people, don't you think that a few might be capable of reading and understanding the bill?

What about all the lawyers and law professors? What about those experts -- and many are experts in relevant fields -- squirreled away in DC think tanks?

The politicians aren't worried about confusing your Aunt Bertha. They're worried about the experts who know how to find (as W.C. Fields put it) "a Ubangi in the fuel supply." You can bet there are plenty to be found in this travesty of a "reform."

Rialby said...

Thankfully, I didn't vote for Obama or for any of the Democrats in Congress who are going to ram this socialism down our throats. That means I don't have to participate, right?

ricpic said...

The minutiae is where they kill off all the inconvenient resource draining alte cockers.

LonewackoDotCom said...

Could Althouse raise the level here above the Instapundit/TeaParty level? "Read the bill!" is just yet another in the long line of TeaParty/Fox stunts that take the place of real debate. All reps. employ staffers who come up with bills, read the bills, and so on. Those staffers can find hidden "features" and so on.

If Althouse wants to do something useful, encourage others to read the bills and point out problems in them and then ask real questions of politicians.

blake said...

"Trust me."

Flexo said...

All the more reason, if a legal challenge gets to the Supreme Court, for the Court to say, "why do you expect us to read it and decipher it if the Congress and the President didn't bother too?" And then simply strike the whole monstrosity down as incomprehensible gibberish.

edutcher said...

"Read the bill" is a stunt?

And here I was always taught you had to know what you were talking about before you debated it.

WV "pogojoy" Dolly Parton topless

knox said...

Forget whether or not we can understand it; if it's just that complicated, and it is passed, how are brain-dead bureaucrats supposed to implement it??

Ignorance is Bliss said...

AJ Lynch said

Reasonable Americans would settle for a two or three page executive summary...

The problem is that the devil is in the details. The executive summary would include all the good-sounding stuff, and would leave out the all the negatives.

Photog714 said...

LonewackoDotCom said: All reps. employ staffers who come up with bills, read the bills, and so on.

I live on, and make my living on, Capitol Hill. And from where I sit, it looks like you're making stuff up. Exactly how did you gain your deep understanding of congressional staffers?

Stephen Snell said...

Lonewacko,

You admonish those who want to be able to read the bill and want their legislators to read the bill, because having people read the bill is a "stunt" that will interfere with "real debate."

Congratulations, that is the most idiotic comment of any kind I have ever read in any context anywhere, anytime, anyhow.

wv = butzin, that horrible human flotsam that conducts "stunts" such as requesting that the king's court read its massive wealth grabs.

mrs whatsit said...

If Althouse wants to do something useful, encourage others to read the bills and point out problems in them and then ask real questions of politicians.

Lonewacko, try reading Ann's post again. Then read it again. And again. Maybe by then you will realize that this is exactly what Ann is arguing should be done: that is, the bill should be posted on the Internet so that we can read it, point out problems in it, and ask real questions of politicians.

In response, our fair Congress is patting us on the head and telling us we wouldn't understand it anyway -- and in fact, some of us wouldn't, as your comment strongly suggests. Others of us, however, would like to be given the opportunity to try.

Donna B. said...

I can see why our legislators think we're too dumb to read the bills... after all, we were dumb enough to elect them.

OldGrouchy Doug Wright said...

Oh, please, everyone, just STFU and allow the "Forever Eternal Peace Granted by the Chosen One" to pass over us all!

There, there, that's ever so much better!

Cheers, all.

Skipper50 said...

Just breathe deeply and smell that condescension. Mmm, mmm.

miller said...

Here's the deal: I, as a citizen, will be tremendously affected by this, and the leaders whom I elected feel I am too stupid to understand what they're doing? They don't trust me to read it?

Representative democracy doesn't mean that I send someone off to congress so they can do stuff they hide in the dark.

"Trust, but verify" is good advice.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

burbled Lonewacko If Althouse wants to do something useful, encourage others to read the bills and point out problems in them and then ask real questions of politicians.

How are we or anyone encourage or not, going to be able to 'read the bill' if it isn't made public BEFORE being voted on.

You are a total idiot.

The whole reason for not making the bill public is that they don't want ANYONE, not anyone to be able to point out the problems before it is a done deal.

They are trying to slip us a pig in a poke and you (lone wacko) that it is just fine.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Reasonable Americans would settle for a two or three page executive summary, at a minimum. They should be able to provide that. If not, why not?

So, when you take out your next house loan or other life changing significant legal contract, you are going to settle for a couple of paragraphs summarizing the deal.

"Here you go...just sign, here...here...here..and here. What? you want to know the terms of the loan, how much are you borrowing, for how long, the payments, interest rate, default provisions, interest cap, adjustable payment provisions and some of these other picky little details????

Didn't you read this paragraph here in 6 point font?

Don't you worry about it. Trust me.

Just SIGN already!!"

Works for you?

JAL said...

They don't get it.

Out here in the unwashed masses of unedjucatimated subjects we actually have people competent and able and willing (!!!11!!) to read the bills.

And we do a spontaneous and complex version of some Charlie Epps thing and many unconnected people (except by the web) can recreate the bill by various pieces coming together -- like magic!! Voila! The Senate Health Bill in all its draconian awfulness!!

And we could have the sense of the bill if the Congress (who are more and more influencing me into becoming a profane old woman) would stop ridiculing and patronizing us.

OF COURSE the guy picks a stupid legaleze section to PROVE we could not possibly understand it.

The previous health bill was the same and we GOT it. That's why they won't put it out.

wv = cessit
Cease it, Congress!!

Dust Bunny Queen said...

OF COURSE the guy picks a stupid legaleze section to PROVE we could not possibly understand it.


And YET....we are responsible for understanding, upon pain of penalty or incarceration, the IRS code which is over 9000 pages long and changes every year.

former law student said...

The professor could lead the way by writing her next law review article in plain English. Imagine if Black's Law Dictionary was unnecessary.

The problem with any health care reform bill is that it must tie into the existing health care legislation, and the case law that has sprung up around it. Imagine a world without Medicare, Medicaid, or the VA, and that would be just a start to eliminating legal language's creeping their way into the bill.

MadisonMan said...

Why should it be on line?

Representatives are elected to pass bills, and to govern. They are the ones who should be reading the bills, weighing their advantages and disadvantages, and voting as per their constituents want. If a Rep doesn't know that their constituents are well served by a particular bill, they should be voted out because they are out of touch. If they vote on a clunker of a bill, then they should face the consequences.

It reminds me of the library being debated in Madison. Two city councilmen want to put the decision up to a binding referendum. If you're too much of a pussy and can't vote on something important, then why the hell are you in public office? Deferring to the public in such a vote is called dodging your job in my book. Vote it up or down. If your constituents vote you out of office because of it, too damn bad.

LonewackoDotCom said...

Ah, the Altabillies strike again.

1. Stephen Snell should name one Rep. who does not employ staffers who read and write bills but who does everything themselves. (I'll wait!)

2. I'm not going to waste my time on Dust Bunny Queen's idiotic comments.

3. Regarding the Person Who Keeps Using Different Names' comment, the "stunt" I'm referring to is the stupid gotcha attempts to ask "did you read the bill? Didya?" That's very low-level activity engaged in by Instapundit, the NRSC, and other low-wattage folks. Althouse should try to rise above that level.

4. All the energy expended criticizing me (without understanding my comment) could have been spent encouraging people to hold politicians accountable.

traditionalguy said...

Madison Man...Shell games have been all Congress has any real experience at playing. So long as they were only trading favors and benefits among American regions and favored constituents we could more or less let them play in hiding from us. Today the game is about selling us out to the Global Government that wants to redistribute American money and power and slip the last Congress with any power a bribe to grant favors to every interest group on the earth BUT American citizens. That is why the Tea Parties came into existence and that is why we are unwilling to trust the Congress Persons anymore in blind faith.

MadisonMan said...

Then vote your congressional representative out of office. Publicize what they are doing.

Nothing puts the fear of God into a politician like the possibility of having to get a real job.

Kev said...

Nothing puts the fear of God into a politician like the possibility of having to get a real job.

And as I said, in the very first comment in this thread, this should happen anyway; they should have real jobs before they go into office, and again, ten to twelve years later, when term limits would force them to leave office.

former law student said...

Why should it be on line?

To fulfill a campaign promise Obama made, e.g. in this video. But he might have meant after the bill passes both houses, because he really doesn't have control over Congress.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5t8GdxFYBU

yaman merdeka said...

Why don't you just think of it as the Fix the Problems bill and leave the complicated stuff to the experts. Mmmkay?

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Lou said...

I don't mind legislators relying on the recommendations of staffers or committees to understand bills. They have a wide range of responsibilities. Now, they should choose wisely to whom they delegate these tasks as they should be held to account for their decisions. "But Sen. Schumer said it was good" is not a valid defense in an election.

Perhaps the most challenging aspect for me is that with such a large piece of legislation, even beginning to understand the implications of the decisions being made must be daunting. It's one thing to read a bill, it's another to fully assess it's impact in the private, commercial and personal arenas. Perhaps that is never truly possible.

former law student said...

It's one thing to read a bill, it's another to fully assess it's impact in the private, commercial and personal arenas.

Indeed. Who knew that a bill mandating the non-regulation of credit derivatives, attached to a thousand-page budget bill, would have tanked our economy, allowing so many investment banks to fail, precipitating more than a trillion dollars of taxpayer bailout funds.

From Inwood said...

Any bill should be posted for at least 72 hrs before voting so that someone who can analyze such things has an opportunity to do so.

End of issue, but some observations if I may after having attended, what I might call a “Decaf” Tea Party of perhaps 100 neighbors where two non lawyers, who had apparently read HR 3200 were trying to get through it section by section one evening from 6:30 to 8:00 PM.

(1) These leaders tended to, er, gloss over (read: ignore) those cross references like the one which says something like “Section 1234 (a) (1) (iii) of the Social Security Act of 1935 is hereby amended to substitute the word ‘and’ for the word or’ ”.

(2) They miss the, um, nuances contained in a simple statement.

(3) They miss the dog that didn’t bark.

(4) They get hung up on the fact that the bill doesn’t mention things like “illegal alien”, “abortion” & “rationing”.

(5) They don’t understand how a court will interpret the legislative history of the bill, such as the defeat of proposals which would have added (in baby talk) something like: “ this bill is in no way shape or form intended to cover abortions, cross our hearts & hope to die.”

(6) They don’t understand how a Federal Judge or judges will find penumbras upon emendations (or is it the other way around? Never get this straight).

(7) They get bogged down on what seem to be simple terms to accountants & lawyers, such as “adjusted gross income”. We spent 15 minutes on this term because the two leaders got that “deer in the headlites look”. I volunteered to the questioner: “for these purposes it means the first number on p. 2 of the usual guy’s 1040; that is “your gross income after certain adjustments but before deductions”. At that point a guy who identified himself as a tax accountant (!) proceeded to give a laundry list of examples of adjustments & deductions zzzzzzzzzz & the questioner asked why attorneys & accountants couldn’t just give a simple answer to a simple question & what about her social security income zzzzzzzzzzz.

(8) Finally, they don’t understand how the House/Senate Conference works & all the goodies are snuck in. (Nothing in this bill shall apply to (& then some language follows which could only apply to, say, AARP).

(9) Attendees get into arguments about whether Rush Limbaugh or Chris Matthews, or for that matter the two leaders are reliable sources.

But I'm OK with all this, because I understand Norman Rockwell's painting about Freedom of Speech!

Methadras said...

Common English legislation NOW!!!

Methadras said...

Down with legalese!!!