Members of Congress Don't Have to Read the Healthcare Bill--They Can Listen to It

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By Peter Roff, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Having gone home with the expectation that they would use the recess period to lobby their constituents in support of Obamacare, members of Congress instead got an earful from the people they represent. And, wonder of wonders, at town hall meeting after town hall meeting, it seemed that the folks who had come to express an opinion about healthcare reform knew more about what was in the bill than the congressman holding the meeting.

It's no wonder. The bill currently under consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives, the one produced by Nancy Pelosi, Henry Waxman, Charlie Rangel, and others runs to more than 1,000 pages. No one, apparently, wants to read the darn thing. And, thanks to the group of public-spirited thespians who created the www.hearthebill.org Web site, they don't have to. They can listen to it online.

The more than 80 voice-over actors involved in the project turned the House bill, H.R. 3200, into an audio book so that anyone, especially members of Congress, would not have to spend precious time reading it. Fully downloadable and with an index, they can put it on their MP3 players and listen to it during the long plane ride back to Washington, during committee meetings, when their colleagues are making speeches on the floor and at any other time when, in their minds anyway, they really don't have anything better to do.

"Healthcare reform is an issue that affects everyone, but it's been difficult for many people to cut through the spin of various interests and learn directly what's in the legislation," said site designer Kathleen Keesling, one of those who conceived of producing an audio version of the proposal. "Now there is a place where everyone can go to read and listen to the bill, educate themselves, ask the right questions for clarification—and then make their own determination about whether to support it."

All told, they can knock the whole thing off in a little less than 24 hours . . . at least until Wednesday, when the president speaks to a Joint Session of Congress and outlines his new vision of Obamacare and new legislation is written. But no worries—the site will be updated whenever the bill is amended to ensure that it remains current, the folks behind the project say.