The notion of August being a time to debate the specifics of the Democratic and Obama health care restructuring plan is something of a misnomer, since there is no single plan. The illusion is being created of a true debate, but in fact we are debating a moving and ill-defined target. We know some of the details in one of the House draft bills, and we know about the concepts being put forth by various committees and the administration.

But try to pin any of the politicians down at a town hall, and what you are likely to get is “I will not” do this or that if and when there is a bill on which to vote. These promises are important, and probably the best thing to come from the town halls.

Here are some excerpts from Arlen Specter’s town hall held earlier today:

  • “I will not vote for a plan that has a deficit.”
  • “I will not support a bill that gives health service to illegal immigrants.”
  • “We’re not going to add tax to companies that have health care. I will not support a Senate bill that has that requirement.”

I haven’t seen transcripts for other Senators or Congressmen, but I’ve heard plenty of “I will not” promises during newscasts. And don’t forget Obama:

  • “So I just want to assure we’re not talking about cutting Medicare benefits.”
  • “First of all, I said I won’t sign a bill that adds to the deficit or the national debt.”

Keep track of all these negative promises. When we finally know all the details of the Democratic and Obama plan, there will be precious little time to react. You will hear that “we debated this bill for a whole month.” No we didn’t, we only heard promises as to what would not happen.

Be ready for the final scrum, “the set of all-night meetings at the end of the Congressional summer session when all the different pieces actually get put together.” The Democrats and Obama will try to push through some monstrously long, complicated, and obtuse health care restructuring bill with only days or hours between the final bill and a vote, as with the stimulus bill.

So arm yourselves with transcripts of all the “I will not” promises. It will be your best ammunition to prevent another stimulus-like fiasco on a much more grand and damaging scale.

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