Dear Uncle Sam,
Forgive me. Although I am a loyal citizen, and despite all the excitement this past week at the Supreme Court, I have not read the entire “Affordable Care Act.” Nor do I want to. I’m not even sure exactly how long it really is, though once any document runs to more than 2,300 pages (which this does), it strikes me that it might be more efficient to skip such niceties as pagination, and just weigh it.
I do know that if you go to the federal web site Healthcare.gov, which I saw advertised on TV Thursday evening (who paid for that, by the way? Was it We, the
Penalty Tax Payers? Or are broadcasters required to subsidize this?), you can find the full text of the law, conveniently broken up into Big Gulp-size sections. These are accompanied by a note that the sections “have been excerpted because presenting the Act in a single PDF results in a very large file which may present download difficulties.” (For real diehards, there is also a link to the full 4+ megabyte PDF file. Beware — I tried it, and had to reboot my computer.)
It is of course possible that right now millions of Americans are cheerfully downloading great wads of this act, poring over it the way the Chinese once studied the speeches of Mao, and preparing to adjust to this extraordinary new world in which government intervention makes everything work so much better. It might well be that I am a surly oddball, raised on those corny old ideas about the astounding benefits of free market competition. Perhaps I am unduly nervous that what this Act will produce is not better healthcare for all, but mediocre medicine rationed at exorbitant cost by a bureaucracy similar to the one that handles airport security.
All that said, however, I do have a few questions. Actually, I have a lot of questions. But to sort them all out and align them with the wildly shifting arguments that have gone into this law would leave me no time to earn the income to pay the tax, or the penalty, or the insurance premiums, or whatever it is we’re now calling it – there seem to be a lot of plans right now to take a lot more of my income, and very little of that seems to be going to my actual doctors.
So, for the moment, I have boiled it all down to three questions (though, in the spirit of our esteemed authorities in Washington, they have subsections):
1) Has President Obama himself actually read this entire law? It is, after all, described as his signature achievement. Has anyone in the White House press corps, or for that matter anyone within shouting distance, ever asked him this question? And if he’s said he has indeed read it, may we know when, and where, and how long it took him to read it? … Or is that a level of detail with which America’s federal elite, with their special healthcare plans, and waivers for their pals, need not concern themselves?