Back during the original Affordable Care Act debate of 2009-’10, Republicans made a big deal out of the fact that the overall text of the legislation was extremely long. What exactly that proved was never entirely clear, but at Tuesday afternoon’s briefing, White House press secretary Sean Spicer showed that he is all in on this stale, nonsensical talking point by offering the fact that the House GOP’s American Health Care Act is literally shorter than President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
“This is government,” he said, gesturing to the big stack of paper that represents ACA. “This is not,” he said, gesturing to the shorter AHCA draft.
Fewer pages = more freedom, apparently.
I just can't get over this argument.— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 7, 2017
"Look at the size. This is the Democrats. This is us." pic.twitter.com/0lPfRxFvMf
Of course, one main reason AHCA is so much shorter than ACA is that it leaves an awful lot of ACA provisions intact, ranging from the requirement that chain restaurants post information about the calorie content of their food to an extensive set of consumer protections that now exist for job-provided health care plans.
Which is to say that the bill really is shorter, but it’s shorter because of how much of the ACA framework it accepts as a given — just as Ezra Klein predicted after Trump’s speech to a joint session of Congress — rather than because of its amazing small-government properties.