Thursday, August 13, 2009

Affordable Health Choices Act, 111th Congress, Senate Bill

I put a copy of the Senate bill on my Kindle. This bill was evidently voted out of the Senate's Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee on July 15. The first I heard of a Senate bill being voted out of committee was at the Clair McCaskill town hall event two days ago. I don't remember this being reported by the media; in fact, just yesterday on Fox News I heard an anchor say that the House had a bill (the 1000+ page bill we've heard of) but the Senate did not. Well, evidently they do (or maybe they don't--see "Update" below). I should have paid more attention in Mr. Price's 8th grade civics class when he taught us "How a Bill Becomes Law." I only remember the geography tests he gave us: thanks to Mr. Price, I can pick out the Yangtze River almost with my eyes closed (although bad news for me, now it's called the Chang Jiang, but since less than 12% of today's high school graduates can find China on a map, I figure I'm still doing OK. Do people under 50 even look at maps anymore? A talking GPS with Google Earth, maybe. Not that there's anything wrong with that.) But I digress. Claire's Senate bill takes up 615 pages of a pdf file.

The HELP Committee Chairman is Ted Kennedy, who has of course been in the Senate since 1962. No one quite knows how Kennedy is faring with his brain cancer, but since ObamaCare hasn't yet become law, it's a pretty good bet that Kennedy hasn't yet been subjected to his "voluntary" (how soon will that change to "mandatory"?) end-of-life "couseling." (Mary Jo Kopechne, 1940-1969, was unavailable for comment on the bill.) Touched wishes him the best.

Chris Dodd (D, Connecticut,) is also part of the committee. Dodd is the longest-serving Senator in Connnecticut's history, having served since 1980. Dodd has recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer; however, since ObamaCare has not yet become law, his cancer was caught early and his chances of recovery are about 100% under our current "broken" health care system. Lucky Chris that he doesn't live in England, where his chances of survival would drop to somewhere around 67% under British socialized health care. Touched also wishes him well.

Their health issues coming when they did was certainly good timing on the part of both of these Senators. Of course, not to worry, members of the House and Senate will be the last people on the planet to lose their excellent health care plan if ObamaCare is passed, but 30 or 50 years from now, who knows what could happen? Really, what could go wrong with a health care bill shepherded through the Senate by the likes of these two Senators, the Poster Boys for Term Limits?

I started to read this bill. Wow, it's a real snooze-fest, no surprise. My buddy Claire McCaskill said that she finished the last 200 pages while flying home from Washington(commercial, coach, she added). What a woman!

The bill can be found at

Fun Fact: The British health care system is the third largest employer in the world, second only to the Chinese Army. That's the truth--look it up.

Update: Bill Hennessey at St. Louis Tea Party Coalition reports that there are four drafts of the health care bill in the Senate. To the best of his knowledge, he writes, "the Senate has not released the complete drafts," except to Senators. So what's the deal? Was the Senate bill voted out of the HELP Committee or not? Obviously there's confusion on this issue, even among people who are paying attention. Possibly "confusion" is a goal. Hennessey accuses McCaskill of playing a shell game with the five different bills that are in various stages of completion.

Evidently Hennessey wasn't as won over by Claire's performance on Tuesday as I was, since he writes, "Claire McCaskill's slithery performance at Jefferson College on August 11 left most observers needing a shower." He called her answers "slimy and smug."


Labwriter said...

I think Hennessey is confused when he says there are four drafts in the Senate of the health care bill and one in the House. But then, who isn't confused, since that's part of their Saul Alinsky tactics.

As best as I can tell, there are three drafts coming from three different committees in the House; there are two drafts from two committees in the Senate. One committee has evidently voted its draft out of committee in the Senate: the HELP Committee (the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions). This is the Senate version that Claire was rererring to in her remarks, the one that can be found on committee website in PDF format.

Labwriter said...

The more I look at her remarks to the crowd on Tuesday, the more I think that Hennessey was right and I was wrong: Claire McCaskill is a weasel.

She fooled me with her plaintive question to the crowd, "Don't you trust me?" She looked honestly hurt when people yelled back, "No!"

During her answers, she proudly stated that there were "160 Republican amendments" adopted to this bill, as if this was a positive, bipartisan move. I later read a statement from Senator Michael B. Enzi (R., Wyoming), who said that Republicans had been forced to offer more than 100 amendments to the bill because Democrats had largely shut them out of the drafting process. So much for Claire's fantasy of bipartisanship.

Labwriter said...

And what about the Senate bill that was put on the HELP Committee website in PDF format? According to my 8th-grade civics class, as a bill becomes law it is assigned a number and labeled with the sponsor's name. The House bill, for example, is HB3200, sponsored by Representative Henry Trollface Waxman. Claire's bill, the one she made such a fuss about ("Here it is, right here on my electronic reader, it's 600 pages long") leaves the place for filling in the number and the sponsor BLANK. So what's the deal? Is this "Senate bill" just sleight of hand, or what?

Whatever the state of the HELP Committee version of the health care bill, the important Senate version is going to come from the Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. Max Baucus (D, Montana). This is the committee charged with figuring out how to pay for the bill. Baucus is on record as saying he will not be bound by an artificial deadline.