Yesterday it was reported that Nancy Pelosi signalled that the proposal to be unveiled tomorrow by Barack Obama would be “much smaller.” That made news, because it suggested that Obama may be rolling out a “much smaller” plan than either the House or Senate bills, or the Obama proposal made last week.

But, “much smaller” apparently does not mean “much smaller“:

White House and Democratic sources hasten to add late today that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not mean to suggest the new plan would constitute a retreat from comprehensive health care reform.

Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami said the speaker was trying to say the new Obama health care proposal would take its policy cues from the Senate health bill and the ideas Obama posted online a week ago.

Elshami did not deny Pelosi’s comments about a “much smaller” bill could fairly be interpreted as suggesting a step back from the Senate bill. Instead, Pelosi has come to regard the Senate bill itself as “much smaller” than the House bill, Elshami said.

White House officials also said Obama’s not dramatically scaling back his proposal. No one was prepared to discuss a price tag, but it appears the ballpark 10-year figure of $1 trillion remains.

I think what threw us off is that we took the word “smaller” to mean “not as big as,” and the word “much” to mean “by a lot.” Maybe the Democrats were right, and we are stupid.

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