Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Breaking News, Health Crap Bill. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) Forces Reading of 700-Page Amendment on Senate Floor

Updates below.

The one thing Harry Reid couldn't deal with while cramming the health crap bill down the country's throat was to have his hurry-up process slowed down. Earlier today, Senator Bernie Sanders, Socialist Senator from Vermont, introduced an amendment to the Reid version of ObamaCare that would have established a single-payer health-care system in the US. Ho-hum. Probably no one in the Senate was paying attention to the Sanders' amendment. Clearly it wasn't going anywhere, had no chance of getting sixty votes.

Enter Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), my newest favorite Senator evah, who warned last month that he would demand a reading of the bill on the Senate floor before a vote on the bill. So here we are, having the 767-page amendment read on the Senate floor.

Wednesday, Noon. I'm watching the Clerk of the Senate on C-Span read this bill as I write this. This is dense language and I feel for her--it's not easy to get through a page of this bill. She has to get through 700 pages. As far as I can tell, it's taking her somewhere between 2 and 4 minutes to get through a page--and she's noticeably slowing down. Oh my, a second person just took over for the original female reader. This guy is reading at about half the rate that the woman was reading at. He seems to be taking somewhere between 5 and 6 minutes to read a page. If this continues, they won't be finished with this until sometime later this evening.

I could be wrong about what constitutes a "page"--I'm counting when they turn the page over and appear to go on to another page. HotAir is reporting that this could take 12 hours. A Senate aid is estimating 8 to 10 hours. Michelle Malkin is reporting that it took 17 minutes to read the six-page Table of Contents. Heh.

I found the bill online and tried this myself. I've read papers at conferences before. For "normal" text, figuring about 250 words per page and I can normally read one page in two minutes. I just tried reading a page of this very convoluted text--it took me almost three minutes. So if it takes them an average of 2.5 minutes per page--and judging from the rate they're reading, it's going to take longer than that--it's going to take them 32 hours. So I don't know where the estimate of 8 to 10 hours is coming from.

Ed Morrissey of HotAir has this to say about Coburn's procedural move: What does this do? It makes a hash out of Harry Reid’s plan to move the bill through the Senate by Christmas. Twelve hours of floor time for just a single amendment means that no other business can be conducted until at least Friday. Coburn apparently launched this effort in response to an attempt by Reid to shove the bill to a cloture vote without giving everyone enough time to read the bill or peruse the CBO analysis, due this week.

Seriously, this is our democracy at work. The Founders meant for the government to move slowly and work badly--for the very reason that 2,000-page bills should never be up for a vote. The Founders would have been horrified, to say the least, at any bill 2,000 pages long and that was being passed with the intent to take over one-sixth of the economy.

The entire amendment is here.

Here is Coburn's statement before the reading. Sen. Max Baucus's (D-MT) response to Coburn: "I can't certify that members of the Senate will understand what they're reading." Then for the Love of God, man, don't write 2,000-page bills, you freaking tool. This reminds me of my students when I taught writing at the University. I not only had to give them a minimum page requirement, I also gave them a maximum requirement, because if I didn't, some of them would give me 20 crappy pages instead of 5 well-crafted good pages. I did my best to teach them that it's more difficult to "write shorter" than it is to write long. What's the joke?--"Sorry my letterto you is 10 pages long, but I didn't have time to make it shorter." These people who are responsible for this piece of crap bill are getting exactly what they deserve.

The HotAir commenters are at their best for this post:
  • Does the amendment have to be read in Spanish, too? 
  • "One man with courage is a majority." --Thomas Jefferson
  • Ironic that it takes one stubborn minority legislator to deliver on the President’s promise of openness and transparency.
Update: 1:45 p.m. Wednesday. Sen. Sanders has withdrawn the amendment. He's railing against the Republicans right now for "shutting down" the government. If reading your amendment, Senator Sanders, shuts down the government, then maybe the problem is with the amendment and with the bill, and not with the Senators who used a procedure to slow down this crap bill.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) was working with Sen. Coburn, so we should thank him as well. DeMint has said that they will also vote to have the entire bill read before the vote. Evidently, if a Senator demands a reading of a bill, then he has to stay on the Senate floor or the other party can stop the reading. So it was important to have DeMint join Coburn so that they could "tag-team" each other. That amendment would have taken somewhere between 32 and 36 hours to read. The 3,000-page bill will take about 150 hours. That would be about nineteen 8-hour days.

I'm watching Sen. Sanders continue to rail on. Please God, make this crazy man the face of this health crap bill. Listening him, you would think that we were some kind of third-world country. This guy is a shameless liar. He's saying that we have worse health care outcomes and spend more per person than any other country. Keep talking, chump.

Update #2. Sen. Tom Coburn, who is also an M.D., writes about the health care bill in the Wall Street Journal: The Health Care Bill Is Scary. "Every American, not just seniors, should know that the rationing provisions in the Reid bill will not only reduce their quality of life, but their life spans as well."

Update #3. Well, this is fascinating. I'm not up on Senate procedural rules, so I wasn't aware that Sen. Sanders was breaking a Senate rule by ending the reading of his craptastic amendment yesterday. Plain and simple: Once a senator asks for a bill to be read, the reading goes on until he asks that it stop or, by unanimous consent, the bill/amendment is withdrawn. So the only way the reading could have been stopped yesterday, according to Senate rule, was for Sen. Coburn to ask that the reading be stopped, or if the Senate voted unanimously for the bill to be withdrawn. Instead, Sen. Sanders was simply allowed to withdraw his amendment.

Why was Sen. Sanders allowed to subvert a Senate rule that has been in place for over 200 years? After only three hours of reading, Sanders was allowed to withdraw his amendment. How and why was this allowed to happen?

Here is Sen. Mitch McConnnell (R-KY), Minority Leader of the Senate, making the point that the Senate rule was subverted.

McConnell: It is now perfectly clear that the majority is willing to do anything--anything--to jam through a 2,000-page bill before the American people, or any of us, have had a chance to read it, including changing the rules in the middle of the game.

In a separate but related issue, Allahpundit at HotAir makes the point, along with Rich Lowry at National Review, "Where's the bill?"  Maybe we’ve actually reached the point where not only aren’t they reading the bill before voting on it, they’re not even writing it before voting on it.

The whole process of this health crap bill has been a sham and a farce from the very beginning.

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