The modern definition of gaffe is “the accidental act of a politician telling the truth.” Steny Hoyer gives us a demonstration in his assessment of the health-care reform bill his party is pushing in both chambers of Congress. The bill will get plenty of support as long as no one actually bothers to learn what it does:
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday that the health-care reform bill now pending in Congress would garner very few votes if lawmakers actually had to read the entire bill before voting on it.
“If every member pledged to not vote for it if they hadn’t read it in its entirety, I think we would have very few votes,” Hoyer told CNSNews.com at his regular weekly news conference.
Hoyer was responding to a question from CNSNews.com on whether he supported a pledge that asks members of the Congress to read the entire bill before voting on it and also make the full text of the bill available to the public for 72 hours before a vote.
In fact, Hoyer found the idea of the pledge humorous, laughing as he responded to the question. “I’m laughing because a) I don’t know how long this bill is going to be, but it’s going to be a very long bill,” he said.
This goes beyond the inanity of Hoyer in this particular application. We elect Representatives from each district and Senators from each state to make the laws which govern us. We didn’t elect their staffs to do that work for the empty suits who go to Washington. The culture in the Beltway has evolved to the point where our elected officials have more or less become accessories to the permanent aide class within DC.
Elected officials will claim that legislation has become too complex to master individually. Well, there’s a solution for that, too — stop offering bills so hideously complex and expensive that only the most skilled Talmudists can discern their meaning and impact. It’s precisely because the legislative process has run off the rails that we get bucketloads of unintended consequences from bills like the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, and McCain-Feingold.
A good rule of thumb: if a Representative or a Senator can’t be expected to read it, it shouldn’t pass into law. Apply this standard, and watch how that stops the growth of government and the stupidities of the law.