- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 30, 2009

OBAMACARE THE MOVIE

Let’s just assume that no one actually understands health care reform legislation. We now have a culture of confusion.

Maybe the entire 1,018-page document should be read aloud by William Shatner on a prime-time special, or presented as a musical with full orchestra and dancing girls. Perhaps President Obama, Harvey Louis Gates Jr. and Sgt. James Crowley could explain the legislation over a beer. Then we might get it.

The press is often clueless. In recent coverage, broadcasters were biased toward Mr. Obama’s liberal ideas 70 percent of the time and got certain basic facts wrong in eight-out-of-10 mentions, according to a new study by the Business & Media Institute.

Lawmakers hate the unwieldy legislation; fewer than 80 have pledged to actually read it, according to Let Freedom Ring, a grass-roots political group that is tracking the trends.

“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?” complained House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. during a recent lunch at the National Press Club.

Wait. According to the Congressional Research Service, 152 members of the House and 51 senators have law degrees. That’s 203 lawyers. Oh, never mind. It is little wonder that Gallup revealed Wednesday that only 27 percent of Americans believe Congress has a “good grasp” on health care issues.

As a public service to the confused or unnerved, Inside the Beltway presents ObamaCare at its most basic.

Those who want to examine the document for themselves are in luck. It is posted online (https://waysandmeans.house.gov/media/pdf/111/AAHCA09001xml.pdf)

The actual title of the legislation is “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009.” The intent is “to provide affordable, quality health care for all Americans and reduce the growth in health care spending, and for other purposes.”

The real wisdom? Those last three little words - “for other purposes” - is probably what’s causing all the trouble.

THE WARNING

Some have very clear impressions of health care reform, meanwhile.

“There is an active commitment on the part of Senate Democratic leadership to allow the rationing of health care. This is what the White House and Congress mean when they say they will cut costs,” says Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. “It means cutting off your access to health care services by creating the legal authority to do so, while stopping any provision becoming law that would prevent rationing.”

The elderly, the disabled and the frail are most at risk, he says, citing the vulnerabilities of government-run plans in England and Canada.

“Their system isn’t improving lives but prematurely taking them. Here in the United States, President Obama’s rationing would mean that you and I could be denied basic care while our tax dollars are used to underwrite a mother choosing to end the life of her unborn child,” Mr. Perkins concludes.

TOASTMASTER GENERAL

Yes, yes - by now, the entire known universe knows that the aforementioned Mssrs. Obama, Gates and Crowley will forgo the Natty Bo or Milwaukee Beast in favor of the more swanky Blue Moon and Beck’s when they share a symbolic beer Thursday afternoon near the White House swing set.

But what of the proper toast? There’s got to be one - it would make the perfect sound bite for the drooling press.

From Peggy Post - great-granddaughter of esteemed etiquette maven Emily Post - here are the best practices for a toast. Any toast.

Traditionally, the host offers the first toast. The more informal the occasion the less this tenet applies. The person delivering the toast stands,” she advises.

The toast should be “short and to the point” and “aim for sincerity over eloquence…but keep with the emotion of the occasion.”

Doubtless some White House wordsmith has crafted something heartfelt but jaunty for the history books. A suggestion from one Democratic observer: “Gentlemen, God bless America.”

POLL DU JOUR

96 percent of toxicologists say Greenpeace overstates the health risk of chemicals.

85 percent say the Environmental Defense Fund exaggerates the risk.

80 percent say PETA overstates the risk.

41 percent say the Environmental Protection Agency overstates the risk.

17 percent say the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention overstates the risk.

Source: A survey of 937 members of the Society of Toxicology conducted Jan. 27 to March 2 by the Center for Health and Risk Communications at George Mason University.

Chatter, asides, announcements to jharper@washington times.com or 202/636-3085.

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