How a Bill Becomes a Law: Pass It, Find Out What's In It, Then Fix It


Great, snappy Megan McArdle on the idea that Congress should pass a flawed health care bill and then amend it later:

If we pass this thing, no American politician, left or right, is going to cut any of these programs, or raise the broad-based taxes necessary to pay for them, without any compensating goodies to offer the public…until the crisis is almost upon us. I can think of no situation, other than impending crisis, in which such a thing has been done–and usually, as with Social Security, they have done just little enough to kick the problem down the road.  The idea that you pass a program of dubious sustainability because you can always make it sustainable later, seems borderline insane.  I can't think of a single major entitlement that has become more sustainable over time.  Why is this one supposed to be different?

The whole pass-then-fix plan is weirdly reminiscent of presidential adviser David Axelrod's infamous line on ABC's This Week back in January:

"People will never know what's in that bill until we pass it."

It's funny, I don't remember any of this from How a Bill Becomes a Law:

I also must have missed that follow-up Schoolhouse Rock hit, "The Slaughter Rule."