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InsiderOnline Blog: July 2009

Read the Health Care Bill—or Just Do Word Frequency Analysis … Either Way

Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) thinks it’s unrealistic and unproductive to expect members of Congress to read through 1,000-plus-page bills that reform the health care system. It’s hard to blame him. Who wants to slog through all that?  

Fortunately, the National Taxpayers Union has found a good shortcut for understanding what the bill is all about. Analyzing the frequency of certain words in the House health care reform bill, NTU found that words relating to competition and consumer choice are hardly present at all compared to words indicating government limitations. Here’s the breakdown of what NTU found:

Terms Empowering Government, Frequency
Require/Required/Requirement(s), 494
Report(s)/Reporting/Reported, 427
Limit/Limits/Limitation, 167
Penalty/Penalties, 156
Regulations, 91
Tax(es), 72
Enforce/Enforcement, 48
Must, 47
Prohibit/Prohibiting/Prohibition, 28
Sanction(s), 21
Obligation/Obligations, 18
Restrict/Restrictive/Restriction, 12
Fines, 3

Terms Empowering Consumers, Frequency
Choice, 47
Options, 38
Private, 35
Rights, 21
Privacy, 17
Exempt/Exemption, 16
Marketplace, 3
Competition, 3
Consumer-driven, 0
Freedom, 0
Liberty, 0
Patient-driven, 0

NTU also analyzed two of President Obama’s recent speeches on health care (one to the American Medical Association and one at a townhall meeting in Green Bay). Funny thing: They don’t seem to reflect the House bill. The President used some variation of the word “require” four times, “tax” twice, “prohibit” once, and “limit” once. The word “option,” however, shows up 19 times. And the words “choice,” “rights,” “marketplace,” and “competition” appear nine times in the two speeches. Seems the President is hoping that lots of people adopt Rep. Conyers strategy of not reading the bill.

Posted on 07/31/09 12:53 PM by Alex Adrianson

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