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Michele Bachmann’s health-care ‘cover-up’ charges hard to fathom

Rep. Michele Bachmann
MinnPost/Raoul Benavides
Rep. Michele Bachmann

WASHINGTON – Last week, Rep. Michele Bachmann called health care legislative provisions a “deceitful cover-up” and a “legislative fraud” and demanded that President Obama and senior Democrats in Congress apologize to the American people.

On Thursday, she posted a YouTube video making her case (above). And then she repeated her comments Friday.

Then, on “Meet the Press” Sunday, Bachmann continued her theme, telling host David Gregory “that secretly, unbeknownst to members of Congress, over $105 billion was hidden in the ObamaCare legislation to fund the implementation of ObamaCare. This is something that wasn’t known.”

I didn’t understand Bachmann’s logic when she first made the claims, and I don’t get it today. Allow me to explain why.

First: All of this was written in the bill. It was a 2,000-page behemoth, sure, but no one (Bachmann included) is contesting that it’s all in there. And second: House members had nearly three full months to read the final version of the bill before they voted on it.

When I asked Bachmann spokesman Doug Sachtleben about this on Friday, he said there’s no question this was written in the bill. It is, he said, a question of emphasis in debate.

“Clearly the language was there, but at the same time it was not made evident to members,” he said. “This information is really just now coming to the surface the way that it should.”

Bachmann said on “Meet the Press” that the information was made known in a Congressional Research Service study, and when I asked for a copy of that study, her office pointed me to an article from former Oklahoma Rep. Ernest Istook, now at the conservative Heritage Foundation, which contains a link to the study.

Although Bachmann told Gregory that the CRS study came out in February, it’s in fact dated Oct. 14. That’s a fairly minor discrepancy though, if you follow Sachtleben’s logic, because CRS studies very rarely get any emphasis unless someone pounces on it, and the Istook article highlighting it, which seems to have sparked the recent emphasis, was from February and is based on a study he did for Heritage dated January 27.

Give her the benefit of the doubt on that, right? Maybe, but CRS simply pulled out examples from the bill’s text, and again, no one’s disputing that it’s all in there. And Democrats say it was highlighted well before that.

“CBO had all of this in their estimates and it was all paid for,” said one senior Democratic aide. “CBO estimates included its cost and despite it, CBO said [the] bill will still reduce the deficit by 230 billion over the next 10 years.”

“It is just unbelievable.”

It’s important to note here that nothing has been added to the health reform law since it passed.

The only modification so far was the House and Senate voting on separate provisions to repeal a tax reporting requirement, but those will have to be merged later and the two chambers are way apart on the details (because the Democratic-held Senate’s plan to recover the $44 billion lost by the change is to not have a plan and instead let the White House figure it out and the Republican led House prefers to institute a whacking-great tax increase).

But I digress. The key point here: Nothing that Congress authorized in the health reform law has been changed yet, so we’re just talking about language in the original bill.

Back to Bachmann on “Meet the Press,” this time about the time members had to read the thing:

“I think that President Obama needs to give back that $105 billion that they already appropriated. They have tied the hands of Congress for the next eight years, David. They already appropriated this money. Members of Congress didn’t even know this money was in the bill because we couldn’t read the bill before it was passed, because it wasn’t given to us but hours before we had to vote for it. That’s why Speaker Pelosi famously said, we have to pass the bill to know what’s in it. Members of Congress weren’t even given the courtesy of time to read the bill. This $105 billion has to be given back before we can start any other discussions.”

One could make the argument that there wasn’t the time to read the bill before the House originally passed it, maybe.

Though it had been exhaustively debated throughout the preceding 10 months, technically the debate on the House bill began on Oct. 7, 2009, and concluded with the House passing it the next day.

But that wasn’t the end of the story, and that’s where I lose Bachmann on her claim that no one had time to read the thing.

The Senate made numerous changes to the bill and, on Christmas Eve, cleared the amended bill on a 60-40 vote. The idea was that the House and Senate would agree to a compromise bill and then re-vote, and the new bill would go through. But that’s not what happened. Republican Scott Brown won the Massachusetts Senate seat that had been held by Democrat Ted Kennedy, and all of the sudden the Dems’ 60-vote bloc in the Senate was broken.

So on March 21, almost three full months after the Senate passed its health care bill, the House voted on that. It passed 219-212, and the president signed it shortly thereafter.

Far from not having “the courtesy of time to read the bill,” the House had nearly three months to read the final version.  

And after reporting on this for two days now, I guess I still don’t understand Bachmann’s logic on this one.

Comments (22)

  1. Submitted by Maury Landsman on 03/07/2011 - 03:55 pm.


  2. Submitted by Cecil North on 03/07/2011 - 03:59 pm.

    As usual, all that Ms. Bachmann has exposed is her native mendaciousness and utter contempt for the truth. Never let anything stand in the way of a juicy sound bite, Michele!

  3. Submitted by Jim Halonen on 03/07/2011 - 04:23 pm.

    Now we know why Pelosi said, “We must pass the bill to find out what’s in it.” This $105 billion find makes us wonder what else is hid in there.

  4. Submitted by Elizabeth Pavlica on 03/07/2011 - 04:36 pm.

    Good to see someone coached her on presentation skills since her SOTU rebuttal.

  5. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 03/07/2011 - 04:41 pm.

    It doesn’t need to make sense. Whatever Rep. Bachmann says is geared towards her followers. They are predisposed to believe whatever she says, without stopping to think whether it is true. After all, lies are the exclusive property of the liberal media. The true Bachmann cultist knows where The Truth is revelaed, and who reveals it.

  6. Submitted by Howard Miller on 03/07/2011 - 06:44 pm.

    Representative Bachmann has recently referred to the Obama Administration using the term “gangster”

    It’s time for the Representative of the Minnesota 6th District to either put up or shut up.

    If she has evidence of crimes by the Obama Administration, she should bring it forward, refer it to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution.

    If she has no evidence, which seems likely, she should quit calling the president of her country a gangster, because it is a BIG lie, in the style of despotic dictators, that harms our national interest.

    She was elected by the voters of the Minnesota 6th, but she’s casting a dark shadow on the state as a whole. She needs to stop it. Crazy doesn’t build business and employment here.

  7. Submitted by Alec Timmerman on 03/07/2011 - 08:52 pm.

    Jim Halonen,
    Here’s the thing, Jim. You do not have to wonder what else is “hidden” in there. It’s a public document. Nothing is hidden to those with the ability to read. What do you mean by what’s hidden in there? Like it’s some kind of Da Vinci Code anagram script?

  8. Submitted by Joe Musich on 03/07/2011 - 09:03 pm.

    And she who hides in the bushes and will still throw stones can be fathomed ? And trying to negotiate through Congess a light bulb bill. Yea maybe the lights are out.The cult part however is what I don’t get.

  9. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 03/07/2011 - 10:10 pm.

    Logic and fact are two words that can not appear in the same sentence as Bachmann. She needs neither. All she needs is a spotlight and the gibberish starts to flow. She contains no solutions, only criticisms. She has done and continues to to do nothing for her district or the state. Political zealots only serve themselves. It will be the moderates that have the solutions to our problems.

  10. Submitted by Dan Hintz on 03/07/2011 - 10:23 pm.

    If you are trying to figure out the “logic” in what Bachmann is saying, you have already missed the point. The appeal of Bachmann to certain people is that she is not constrained by things like facts and logic or, for that matter, the truth. You can look at individual statments and point out where she has lied, but to simply call her a liar really does not do justice to her complete lack of any interest in getting it right. You can go through a story like this and point out the outright falsehoods and the sheer idiocy of her arguments, but it doesn’t matter. She doesn’t care, and that is why her supporters like her.

  11. Submitted by John Olson on 03/08/2011 - 06:51 am.

    Michele Bachmann has to be a gold mine for MinnPost and other mainstream media outlets with the web traffic she generates. She knows full well that the more outlandish she is, the more attention she gets.

    At what point do producers from the MSM (excluding Fox News) take a pass on her act? After her Sunday performance with David Gregory on MTP, the only reason I can see her coming back there anytime soon is if NBC needs the ratings.

  12. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 03/08/2011 - 07:47 am.

    Michelle Bachmann lies.

    Is she talking? She’s lying.

    But her followers NEED those lies because if they have to face the truth, that truth makes the world a very uncomfortable place for people with their own (and Bachmann’s) psychological dysfunctions to live in.

    They will believe her lies a thousand times before they’ll face the truth.

    That the media refuses to stop her mid sentence and say, “Rep. Bachmann, that’s a lie!” is the reason America is so much at risk to become a corporate-run oligarchy.

    But even after the Tea Partiers like Rep. Bachmann have arranged for their abject poverty and the utter destruction of their lives, her most avid followers will cry to the heavens that her lies were the truth and cry to God to save them from what they have done to themselves and never, ever, ever, consider that they got exactly what they demanded and it destroyed them.

  13. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 03/08/2011 - 08:07 am.

    You know what else is hidden in there?

    You can find all of the letters that spell out “Obama is the anti-Christ”.

    Now that is scary!

    Perhaps if she weren’t traveling so much, she might have time to read the bills.

  14. Submitted by Tony Wagner on 03/08/2011 - 09:28 am.

    In Ms. Bachmann’s defense, legislation is often complex and difficult to comprehend, so normally I am inclined to be sympathetic to these complaints.

    However, in this case, not only was the bill extremely high-profile and debated ad nauseum for months (just check Ms. Bachmann’s record of complaints about it!), but she has also been among the most vocal opponents of the bill since before debate even began. Her conclusions now (defund and repeal) are exactly the same as they were a year ago, which suggests her latest arguments are not as relevatory as she implies. At best, she’s like the boy who cried “wolf” too often.

    Although in this case, I think it is actually quite plausible that this aspect of the bill escaped Ms. Bachmann’s attention for so long, although the reason is not flattering to her: why bother reading something which you already know you oppose?

  15. Submitted by Tony Wagner on 03/08/2011 - 09:42 am.

    Also, I don’t know how these Sunday morning news shows operate, but instead of dictating a topic of discussion, I think it would be in their best interests to guarantee each guest a certain amount of time to discuss a topic of the guest’s own choosing, provided that the topic is disclosed well in advance. This would allow the shows to actually prepare research and question their guests’ statements in situations such as these. Otherwise, as Ms. Bachmann and others have demonstrated, the guest can quite easily control the show’s discussion and message without any serious refutation.

    I would go so far as to inform the guests that any attempt to deviate from the discussion topics they previously agreed to would result in them being cut off or edited from the broadcast. But again, since the guest would be choosing the discussion topics, it could hardly be seen as a matter of censorship — it’s simply a matter of proper execution of the discussion format.

  16. Submitted by Jim Halonen on 03/08/2011 - 09:59 am.

    Can anybody provide a good explanation as to why there are about 1000 waivers of Obamacare?

  17. Submitted by Robert Langford on 03/08/2011 - 11:03 am.

    Halonen, the easy answer to your question is that healthcare in its many forms is a very, very complex matter. If you receive the information reports from your carrier and/or medicare, it gives a sense of just how complex the existing system really is. The number of waivers is merely indicative of the comlexity of the present system. Like Bachmann, you make the rhetorical sound simple by simplitic, though dishonest statement. Read Kapphahn’s comments to better understand reality.

  18. Submitted by Carol Allis on 03/08/2011 - 11:09 am.

    Perhaps if Bachmann weren’t jetting around the country constantly, she would have had time to read the bill ….

  19. Submitted by Jim Roth on 03/08/2011 - 11:32 am.

    Michele Bachmann reminds me of the old joke” “How do you know she’s lying? Answer: Her mouth is open”. I would stop trying to find any logic in this. She says whatever she wants to say and a lot of people including media repeat it. Ultimately some people actually believe it, but it’s getting old. I think she’s more than a little too full of herself.

  20. Submitted by Victor Johnson on 03/08/2011 - 02:10 pm.

    Any person voting on this bill would have read it first, or had their aids break it up and assigned portions of it.
    Everyone who voted for the bill knew of the money that would be spent to give 25 million people health care.
    It is time for the US to have Socialized Medicine as all other countries.
    Franklin Roosevelt planned to add a national health care system to the Bill of Rights. But died before doing so. Meanwhile, health care is now privatized, and with the First Amendment changed to protect only Big Business, US citizens lose, as marketing strategies are implemented to misdirect the publics understanding of the situation.

  21. Submitted by Dennis Wahlstrom on 03/08/2011 - 03:23 pm.

    It’s difficult to believe that voters returned Michele Bachmann back to the U.S. House. She has become an embarrassment to the citizens of Minnesota. That, plus she sets a terrible example for every young person who might be interested in public service and for students who are studying Civics.
    Maybe the learning experience is “not to do what Michele Bachman does”.

  22. Submitted by Tom Lynch on 03/08/2011 - 07:33 pm.

    —“Can anybody provide a good explanation as to why there are about 1000 waivers of Obamacare?”—-I believe the poster after you explained why.

    And the waivers are “temporary”. They are not permanent waivers and only last a short period of time.

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