EJ Montini: It would be like reading a Tolstoy novel in three hours. You do the math.
The Republicans in control of the U.S. Senate passed a 500-page tax overhaul bill that not one of them read.
That’s what some senators are saying, and I agree with them.
For example, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, said before the vote, “I defy any member of the Senate to stand here and take an oath that they have read this and understand what in the world it means to businesses and families and individuals.”
We know from independent analysis that the bill will provide a huge tax break to corporations and the super rich; that tax breaks for regular citizens will expire while tax breaks for corporations go on forever; that by killing the individual mandate for health insurance millions of Americans will end up without health care and millions more will pay a lot more; that people won’t be taxed for their private jets and that President Trump’s kids won’t have to pay estate taxes after he dies.
The information I just passed on probably accounts for a few pages in a bill containing more than 500 pages.
The bill was drafted in secret by Republican leadership, and most senators didn’t see a copy of it until a few hours before the vote was taken.
Democrats tried to delay the vote.
Sen. Charles Schumer said, “Because the bill was given to lobbyists to read and change before senators saw it, and because the bill was given to us on a few hours' notice and has not been read fully or considered fully by a single senator, I move we adjourn until Monday so we can first read and then clean up this awful piece of legislation.”
The proposal failed.
The vote was forced.
Republicans had the votes to pass it. (Thanks in part to our own two U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake).
Why would I agree with those who say that not one of the senators read the before they voted on it?
Simple common sense.
Let’s say the senators had the bill for three hours prior to a vote. (They actually were writing and rewriting parts, and adding parts, right up until the vote.)
There are 3,600 seconds in a hour. In three hours there are 10,800 seconds.
At 500-plus pages that would give a speed-reading senator roughly 20 seconds per page to get through the bill.
And how many of them do you suppose are speed readers?
And how many of those do you suppose would actually retain any of what they read?
It would be like reading Leo Tolstoy’s "Anna Karenina" in three hours. Or "Gone with the Wind." Or one of the Harry Potter books.
Only imagine trying to read and comprehend that much tax law. With math. And all that unreadable legalese.
This bill will change lives.
Not one of them read it.
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