"We learned from the stimulus, and the other side didn't," says one savvy GOP aide. "They pushed through a bill as fast as possible so that no one knew what was in it. Very early on, there was a clear goal that Republican members of Congress would know what was in this [health care] bill and what its impact would be."
House Republicans had six private health care seminars in May, two in June and three so far in July, with the ones this month dealing specifically with the Democratic proposal on the table. GOP officials estimate about three-quarters of the Republican members have gone through the sessions.
"This is not a bill you can skim," says Rep. Dave Camp, the ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee. "You have to read it again and again and find new nuances. It's a big, complex piece of legislation."
According to David Camp, the ranking Republican member on the House Ways and Means Committee people's concerns are shifting from platitudes about health care to details, and they're beginning to understand that the devil's in those details.
Speaking by phone from the small town of Stanwood, Mich., where he was meeting with constituents, Camp told me voters are hungry for the details of the health care proposal; people come up to him in the grocery store and ask him how this or that measure would work.
The August recess will provide an opportunity to get information to voters. We need time to understand and debate what's in the bill. Health care has been in crisis for years. We can take a few weeks for debate. No one can make a rational argument that we have to pass something now.
This website provides updated information on the bill.