Good news: Baucus's ObamaCare bill clocks in at a cool 1,502 pages

At a steady clip of two minutes per page, working a full eight-hour day, you’d be through it in just under a week.

Seems like a good time to start a pool on how long the final bill will be after amendments, mergers with other drafts, etc. Pencil me in for 1,830 pages. Do I hear 2,000?

The Senate Finance Committee filed its sweeping health care reform bill Monday and its release served largely to highlight the divisions among Democrats over the direction of reform.

The massive, 1,500 page bill is expected to serve as the backbone for Democratic reform efforts going forward and five senators expressed concerns about one of its main provisions, a 40 percent tax on high-end insurance plans…

It’s important to remember that the bill won’t exist in this form for long. Senate Majority Leader Reid and Sens. Max Baucus and Chris Dodd along with senior White House aides are merging the Finance and Health Committee legislation into one bill that will be considered on the floor of the Senate. The behind-closed-doors dealings have drawn criticism from Republicans, particularly because President Obama had promised a transparent process and pledged to negotiate the health care bill on C-SPAN.

Serious question: Assuming that passage of some bill is a fait accompli, which it probably is, why would a short bill be better? They’re remaking one-sixth of the economy with legislation that touches on various areas of law. Even a “short” bill’s bound to run into the hundreds of pages, which might — might — entice more senators to read it but at the price of leaving statutory gaps that’ll eventually be filled in by federal courts. Would you rather have unelected judges writing the law or Congress? Any major economic legislation, be it a revision of the tax code or overhaul of social security, is probably going to mean a huge bill even if the final product results in smaller or more efficient government. It’s a necessary evil of trying to govern a country of 300 million people with a fantastically complex economy. Frankly, I’m surprised it didn’t end up being 5,000 pages.

Here it is in browser-friendly format in case you’ve got a week to spare.

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David Strom 8:41 PM on January 30, 2023