Farm Progress

Hearing the same talking points over and over is less convincing than it is alarming for thinking people.

March 10, 2017

3 Min Read
SPEAKING OUT: Sen. Rand Paul (center right) is shown during confirmation hearings for Education Secretary Betsy Ross. Rand is demanding more information about the contents of the proposed legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Imagine this government: Each morning, every member of each governing body gets a “script” for the day. It comes with training on how to “pivot” back to the script in case someone goes rogue and asks an original question or expresses a differing opinion.

How well an individual “stays on script” is the determining factor in job performance. News media will be responsible for praising “staying on script.” When asked for an opinion, every single person will say the same thing in the same words — the words in the script.

We're almost there, America. Just listen to our elected representatives speak on almost any topic and you'll hear the same catch phrases repeated over and over again.

Watch a video from the media the night of, and day after, the president's first speech to a joint session of Congress. Unending praise for "sounding presidential" and "softening the tone" and, yep, there it is: "staying on script."

I acknowledge that we partly arrived at this incredible state by electing someone to the presidency who just might create an international incident if he goes "off the rails" and truly "speaks from my heart" as he assured us he was doing while carefully reading his teleprompter script.

But it goes beyond the president. Let's examine the battle in Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Getting this done is essential because the "system is imploding" and Obamacare is in a "death spiral." Insurance companies are "fleeing the exchanges" and "thousands of people are scrambling" for alternate coverage. Premiums and deductibles are "skyrocketing." At least that's what the script says.

Republicans are now riding to the rescue to "save America" from this "failing system" with a wonderful, beautiful plan — a plan so essential to keep secret that the draft is being held in a locked room with four security guards.

I'd think that had to be made up by some click-bait site, except I saw Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who by the way is a Republican, on network television talking about locating the room where it’s being held and not being able to get access to the document.

Apparently, the script for talking about the plan hasn't been finished yet, and there is grave danger somebody might just blurt something out that would be found to run counter to the final script when it is completed.

This isn't funny. This is legislation that will have a life or death impact on almost every citizen of the United States. The original bill was passed by partisan vote without thorough discussion. That resulted in predictably flawed legislation — although its "death spiral" is nowhere as dramatic as the latest script paints it.

Republicans have a golden chance to be on the right side of history. Paul Ryan should take to the floor of the House and try out this script: "My fellow legislators, we have already gotten this wrong once. Now is our chance to do it right. We want to hear from everybody. We want public comment. We want hearings in committees. We want to know beyond the shadow of a doubt what is working and what is not working and why. We will put a priority on fixing the most compelling problems first. Let's get started."

Sen. Mitch McConnell should do something similar. Then committee members in both houses should sit down with that gigantic document and start going through it, line by line and page by page, whether there are 13,000 pages or 33,000 pages. They should continue until they are absolutely sure they understand everything in it, inside out — without a script to tell them what they think.

That would allow them to start with the advantage of modifying a piece of legislation that has already been in place long enough for regulations for every title to be written and implemented, meaning corrections can be made efficiently, immediately and smoothly.

Yes, it is incredibly complicated, which comes as a surprise to almost nobody except Donald Trump. It is also important to get it right. The very life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of every citizen of the United States depend on it.

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