Sunday, November 18, 2007

How Long is the Affordable Care Act?

Opponents of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (i.e., "Obamacare") continue to harp on the law's length. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) famously said that it's longer than Tolstoy's War and Peace (actually, it isn't). I began to wonder whether the PPACA really is that long (in comparison to other legislation) and I stumbled upon an article published back in 2009 by OpenCongress. In it, Donny Shaw discusses findings from an analysis of legislation appearing in Congress over the previous 10 years. Here are some revealing snippets:

...the Democrats’ health care bills in the Senate and the House are, comparatively, very long. In fact, at 314,900 words, the House version is the longest bill to move through Congress since at least 1999.

But long bills are written by both Democrats and Republicans. The second longest bill to appear in Congress...was authored by Republican Rep. Don Young [R, AK-1]. It’s a mere 68 words shorter than the House health care bill. Of the 10 longest bills in the past ten years, five were written by Democrats and five were written by Republicans.

Thought bubble: One question worth exploring is whether laws generally become lengthier over time. Perhaps an extra credit opportunity for a student...

In short, yes - the PPACA is long...incredibly long. In fact, it was found to be over 100 times longer than the average congressional bill. Yet if Republicans are going to oppose a law on account of its word length and wish to be logically consistent, they must be prepared to withdraw support for legislation that they've championed.