‘Republicans Didn’t Read the Bill’, and Other Possible Common Ground between Progressives and Conservatives

May 8, 2017

To our left-leaning friends currently criticizing Republicans in the House for apparently not having read the bill they just passed, a few thoughts:

1.  I agree with you!  Seriously, to that extent, shame on Republicans in Congress.  “‘I don’t think any individual has read the whole bill,’ Representative Tom Garrett of Virginia said.”  This is no way to run a republic.  We elect these men to represent us; the parliamentary work of crafting and considering bills is literally their job.  Bothering to read the thing is almost literally the least they could do.

2.  Glad you’ve finally joined us!  Were you aware that, ironically, Democrats in Congress didn’t read Obamacare when they passed it in the first place?  (If you were not aware, this is a great reminder that everyone should get a balanced diet including at least some conservative and liberal media.)  Congressman John Conyers both exemplified this and beautifully encapsulated it in his dismissive response to critics:

I love these members, they get up and say, “Read the bill.” What good is reading the bill if it’s a thousand pages and you don’t have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?

3.  Seriously, this is one of the arguments for small government in the first place.  Democrats in Congress passed a bill thousands of pages long that they hadn’t read and probably didn’t understand.  Now Republicans in Congress have passed a bill to repeal or amend Obamacare that’s more than a hundred pages long itself, which they haven’t read and probably didn’t understand.  You may disagree with me (a lot) on health-care policy, but I bet we can agree on one thing:  There are many, many people in this country who do not have anything like a thorough grasp of the issues—including but not limited to the fact that they have not read these bills and largely do not understand them—who nonetheless vote.

My modest position would be to suggest to you that as long as our government is contemplating big, complex plans to reorder large areas of society, passing complicated bills that are thousands of pages long, many voters will never have anything like an adequate grasp of the issues.  That’s part of why we’re conservative—not just because we disagree about policy, but because the bigger, more ambitious, and more complex government gets, the fewer voters will even understand the issues well enough to reach the point of honest disagreement.

And if we can’t meaningfully discuss and respectfully debate the real issues with each other, how are we supposed to vote on them? How can we expect to arrive at anything like a good policy outcome?

3 Responses to “‘Republicans Didn’t Read the Bill’, and Other Possible Common Ground between Progressives and Conservatives”

  1. Tricia Says:

    I was just having a “”discussion about this the other day with a group of Liberals who were not embarrassed in the least when I brought up the Democrats failure to read ObamaCare before it passed. One of them did finally agree that bills in general should not be so large and complicated but I still didn’t grasp why it was wrong both back then and now.

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