Sunday, March 21, 2010

Health Care debate: Send in the clowns

I can't say that I am a C-span junkie, but I've been known to watch proceedings now and then. Whether for or against the health care reform bill that passed the House tonight--and I am in favor of it, although it could be a lot better--I think everyone can agree that tonight's vote is historic. This will probably go down as one of the most important acts of legislation of the post-war era, and I decided that I was going to watch the debate and the votes tonight.

After watching four hours of "debate" it's easy to see why people think congress is broken.

I must have heard somewhere around 100 speeches this evening and there isn't a dime's difference between them. Every Republican had the same set of talking points. Every Democrat read from the same script.Same thing over and over and over again.

Why? Because of the television cameras. Every last representative has to get up and say their one minute--even if it is the same thing as the previous speaker--so that the local TV station has video of Representative So-and-So imploring his or her colleagues to vote the right way.

Regardless of how our founding fathers thought Congress should work, the fact is that the all of the negotiations are completed behind closed doors. By the time a bill is called for a vote, the speaker knows exactly how many votes she has. Everything done in the chamber is done for the cameras.

So if you tuned in tonight and thought, "wow, what a bunch of clowns," that's why. While they may or may not all be clowns, they have certainly turned the floor of the House into a circus.
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