Amid a mounting revolt over House Republicans’ plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the Trump administration is pointing to the literal length of the proposal as a major selling point. The GOP bill is just 123 pages long—substantially shorter than the current health care law. According to the administration, this makes it less onerous than Obamacare and, somehow, better for American patients.
Republicans have been complaining about the number of pages in Obama’s health care reform bills ever since they were first introduced back in 2009. This curious line of argument reemerged on Tuesday at a White House press briefing, when the two pieces of legislation—Obamacare and the GOP replacement plan—were prominently displayed alongside each other for the purpose of emphasizing the difference in length.
“Look at the size: This is the Democrats; this is us,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said, pointing to the two stacks of paper. “You can’t get any clearer in terms of: ‘This is government, this is not.’ Part of the reason the visual is important is that when you actually look at the difference, you realize this is what big government does. It crowds out competition, it drives up prices, it stifles entrepreneurship and innovation.”
Earlier in the briefing, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price also underscored the physical differences.
“Notice how thick that is,” Price said, pointing at the Obamacare legislation.
Price added, “What it means is that we are making certain that the process, that the decisions that are going to be made are not going to be made by the federal government. They are going to be made by patients, families, and doctors.”
In some ways, the small-bill talking point is fitting for President Donald Trump, who prefers to keep his intelligence briefings short, uncomplicated, and supportive of his own preconceptions.