You might have seen this week a stunning demonstration of political condescension on the health care front. In remarks at the 2010 Legislative Conference for the National Association of Counties, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of controversy.”
This revealing comment reinforces a patriarchal (or in Pelosi’s case matriarchal) attitude Congress has taken with the American public: What lurks within the House and Senate health care bills will be revealed in the fullness of time, and it’s really good for us if we only knew better.
Ordinary Americans have had a common-sense resistance to Washington’s feverish attempt to overhaul one-sixth of the U.S. economy. But Congressional leadership has ignored the public’s concerns and instead clung to the idea that if they simply ram the bill through the legislative process — using unprecedented tactical maneuvers that may not even pass the parliamentarian’s smell test—Americans will finally understand and embrace ObamaCare.
When it’s law, then Americans can finally grasp the “goodness” of what’s in the 2,700-plus-page Senate bill, which is the most likely legislative vehicle that Congress will push to President Barack Obama’s desk. The problem for Pelosi and congressional Democrats is that Americans have been reading these bills, and they don’t like what they’re reading.
The more the public learns about the taxes, individual mandates, taxpayer-funded abortion coverage, and the potential breakdown of the private health insurance market, the less jazzed they are about ObamaCare. But politicians have blithely waved away little details like reading the actual bill and instead said “trust us”—at a time when public trust for Congress is at an all-time low during Obama’s presidency.
This whole dynamic helps explain why Obama and congressional leadership are insistent on another artificial deadline of March 18 for final passage of ObamaCare. They know that members of Congress, particularly those in the House, could see another wave of townhall protests when they go on a two-week recess starting March 26. That’s because the American people do know what’s in these bills. Popular discussion and debate—that “fog of controversy”—has helped to enlighten them.