Senate Finance Committee Democrats have rejected a GOP amendment that would have required a health overhaul bill to be available online for 72 hours before the committee votes.
Wouldn't want to commoners seeing it before it goes to the President. In 2009, 72 hours is more than enough time for determined individuals to highlight the problems with the bill, organize protests and engage the media. In other words, enough time to shred any lingering public support.
Democrats said [posting the bill] was a delay tactic that could have postponed a vote for weeks.
This could only be true if:
- The bill(s) is/are so long as to require weeks of scanning to create electronic copies.
- Congresspeople are too out of touch to know how to post a document to the internet.
Either way, this is not an argument in favor of either bill or those who wrote it.
Baucus is aiming to get the bill through his committee by the end of the week and ultimately he's expected to succeed.
So the bill, which, as far as I've been able to determine, has been read in its entirety by no one in Congress (much less had all its implications explored) and is possibly so large that it would take weeks to post online, is targeted to be passed in the next 24-36 hours.
...several committee Democrats called for increasing the rebates that drug companies must pay the government for certain low-income patients. That would breach an agreement among the White House, Baucus and drug makers...
Said agreement appears to have involved trading caps on the money health insurers would pay to the government in exchange for pro-reform ads. This point is made here, and involves questions of bribery and ethics that I won't reiterate here. Suffice to say, it doesn't look good. (link via Instapundit.)
Baucus kept his mouth shut through the debate on drug costs but postponed a vote on the amendment until Wednesday. The amendment's author, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said the change would raise some $86 billion which he would use to protect seniors enrolled in private insurance plans under Medicare from any changes under the legislation.
Wait. I thought no one would lose their private coverage under "the plan" (which is really several bills floating around, from both sides). What changes is Senator Nelson worried about? These changes, apparently:
Despite Obama's repeated claims that Medicare benefits will not be cut, Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf told senators Tuesday that the elderly in the private Medicare Advantage plans could see reduced benefits under Baucus' bill.
Ah, I see. The public face of this plan (via news stories, press conferences, speeches, etc.) is different from what the bill actually says. Got it.
Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine had concerns about whether it did enough to make insurance affordable for people who will face a new requirement to buy it.
What if I don't want health insurance? I'll be fined (don't call it a tax, even though that's what it is). What if I want it but still can't afford it? I don't know. I can't read the bill and this point isn't being addressed, at least where I can read it.
So, what did I miss? Why is this a bill too important not to pass, but not important enough to read? Why is this bill so good that only racists and obstructionists should oppose it, but not so good that the people whose lives will be affected by it should actually get to read it?