Robert Knight

Do you think Congress should vote on bills without reading them? How about voting on bills that don’t even exist yet, except in fragments?

The Senate Finance Committee is poised to vote on a massive health care reform bill on Tuesday allegedly authored by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.). A glaring, outrageous, unreported fact is that the bill’s actual text has been kept secret. No one actually knows what’s in it – not even the senators who will be told to vote for it.

Going Rogue by Sarah Palin FREE

Perhaps the Nobel committee will award President Obama another prize to share with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, for “imagination in medical financing.”

Bits and pieces are leaking out, but entire sections will be added later. That’s what happened with the House version. Nobody read the bill, and 75 “phantom” amendments were added after the vote. A similar maneuver happened in the Senate when a key committee approved another version of a sweeping health care bill in July without seeing the text. Actual language was unveiled months later in September. 

In short, senators will follow recent precedent and be voting on something that does not even exist yet.

Even the Congressional Budget Office, which issued a report this week saying the Baucus plan would cost under $900 billion instead of more than a trillion, was operating without actual text. When the CBO crunched the detailed, 1,018-page House version this summer, it reported that it would cost far more than President Obama claimed. Obama then broke precedent and summoned the CBO director to the White House for a “talk.” Now the CBO says the Senate bill will cost less. They think. They hope. They speculate.

What’s more, CNSNews.com reports that an aide to Sen. Harry Reid said that current debates may be irrelevant because an entirely different version might be inserted into an unrelated House tax bill, HR 1586.  That’s the measure that levies a 90 percent tax on bonuses given to executives of firms that receive bailout money. Among other things, this could be a way of getting around the constitutional requirement that all tax bills originate in the House.


Robert Knight

Robert Knight is an author, senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a frequent contributor to Townhall.