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The Strangest Things Said at the Health Care Hearing The Strangest Things Said at the Health Care Hearing

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The Strangest Things Said at the Health Care Hearing

A guide to mixed metaphors and childhood stories from committee members questioning Kathleen Sebelius.


Rep. Joe Barton: "Some might say we are actually in the Wizard of Oz land given the parallel universes we appear to be in."(twm1340/Flickr)

Chicken Little is living in Oz, riding tricycles, and drinking out of red Solo cups. At least that's what you might think listening to the questions at Wednesday's congressional hearing on the health care law and website with the secretary of Health and Human Services.

Understanding the health care law is tough. So, what's one way of trying to comprehend the legislation if you're a member of Congress? Draw a metaphor from your childhood.


But sometimes these metaphors can get mixed and confusing. And that's exactly what was on display while members questioned Kathleen Sebelius on Wednesday about the failures of Health

Using Wednesday's hearing, here is a guide for using childhood memories to grill an administration official:

If a situation seems odd, why not mention a movie that many people would know? Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas:


There is a famous movie called the Wizard of Oz and there is a great line. Dorothy at some point in the movie turns to her little dog Toto and says, 'We're not in Kansas anymore.' While you're from Kansas, we're not in Kansas anymore. Some might say we are actually in the Wizard of Oz land given the parallel universes we appear to be in.

Or, if you're frustrated at your colleagues, flip that metaphor on the other side. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J.:

I know we are not in Kansas, but I do believe we are in Oz because of what I see here. This Wizard of Oz comment from my colleague from Texas is apropos given what we hear on the other side of the aisle. I don't know how you keep your cool, Madam Secretary with the continuous effort on the part of the GOP to sabotage and scare people and bring up red herrings and I think this privacy issue is another red herring.

And the movie metaphor can even work for someone later on in the hearing. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa:


One of the things that keeps coming up in this hearing because you are from Kansas is references to The Wizard of Oz. People went to see the wizard because of the wonderful things that he did. The Affordable Care Act is doing a lot of great things in Iowa.

A member could also chose a story that every child was taught in school or by his or her parents—some sort of children's story, for instance? Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y.:

My Republican colleagues' actions here remind me of a story I read when I was a little boy and that's the story of Chicken Little who ran around yelling, 'The sky is falling, the sky is falling.' But unlike Chicken Little, my Republican colleagues are actually rooting for the sky to fall.

But that might be too childish. The very people who are critical for Obamacare to work are younger adults, many of whom party on the weekends. Reference an item they like to use. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.:

I will remind you, some people like to drive a Ford and not a Ferrari and some people like a red Solo cup and not a crystal stem. You are taking away their choice. 

Or, of course, you might just have a memory you thought was worth sharing. Say, you grew up in Kansas and the witness looked familiar. Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Texas:

I was in third grade there and I thought I saw on you a tricycle there one day.

There are countless other examples. They are just a few ways that allow members to understand laws better.

Rep. Barton: 'We are Actually in Wizard of Oz Land'

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