Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Don't Read the Bill

Apparently "read the bill" rhetoric is back, with Max Baucus taking heat because he said "I don’t think you want me to waste my time to read every page of the healthcare bill.  You know why? It’s statutory language. ... We hire experts.  I certainly hope that Max Baucus didn't waste his time by literally reading the entire health care bill; any legislator who engages in such a foolish stunt deserves to be bounced from office.  Members of Congress have important responsibilities, but they are not -- nor should they be -- experts in legislative language; limiting Congress to those who can really read and understand such language would basically turn the US into an aristocracy of the lawyers, and lawyers specializing not in policy and good representation but technical junk that no one cares about (but which had better be correct, nonetheless). 

It's too bad that no one understands what the job of a Member of Congress entails.  More people should read Richard Fenno.  Or David Price.  Or John Berry.  Or John Jacobs.  Or David Maraniss and Michael Weisskopf


  1. I suppose lawmakers could give up their trips back to the district every weekend and instead stay in DC to pore over legislation. Then they can be attacked for being "out of touch" with their constituents.

  2. The ACA is not all that hard to read, as bills go, because most of its bulk relats to creating new code sections -- which are self-contained and pretty readable -- rather than modifying old code sections. A few hours and a pot of coffee and you can read the whole thing. But your general point is sound.

  3. I'm kind of confused I suppose? What is wrong with reading and seeing what is contained within the bill? I suppose reading the whole thing would be a waste of time though...


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