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From ‘brosurance’ to tricycles, the Sebelius hearing was pretty weird

There has been a lot of substantive talk about the health care law in Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius's congressional hearing. And there have also been a really high number of moments that are decidedly...weird. A quick review of five genuinely bizarre topics that have occurred this morning.

1. Kathleen Sebelius riding a tricycle.

It's unclear to me how exactly this fact became relevant, but Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Tex.) asked Kathleen Sebelius whether she had grown up in Kansas, the state where she served as governor. She said no, she grew up in Cincinnati. Of course the natural next question from Hall would be to mention he thought he once saw a very young Sebelius riding a tricycle. Sebelius doubted that this would be the case.

2. Brosurance!

Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) brought along a copy of this ad, which was drawn up by a non-profit in Colorado to encourage young people to purchase health care coverage.

Gardner pressed Sebelius on whether she thought keg stands were an appropriate way to sell health care. Sebelius said she couldn't see the ad and accurately stated it was not funded by the federal government. Weirdly, this was not the first time that red solo cups came up during the hearing...

3. Red solo cups

And this was kind of, sort of, relevant to the discussion! Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) was making a point about the health-care law and its requirement that all health insurance plans cover a robust set of benefits. Some people, including Blackburn, aren't a big fan of this because it means you can no longer buy a more bare-bones plan. Which lead her to say this:  “I will remind you: some people like to drive a Ford and not a Ferrari, and some people like to drink out of a red solo cup and not a crystal stem. You’re taking away their choice.”

Now, we all have this song stuck in our heads indefinitely. Thanks, Obamacare.

4. Wizard of Oz

Pet owners and their pet dogs dressed as characters from the Wizard of Oz participate at the Scaredy Cats and Dogs Halloween costume competition in Manila on October 26, 2013. The annual Halloween event aims to raise funds to help animal rights group, Philippine Animal Welfare Society's (PAWS). AFP PHOTO/NOEL CELISNOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images

No hearing with a former Kansas governor would be complete without a reference to the Wizard of Oz. " Madam Secretary, you're not in Kansas anymore," Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) told Sebelius. “Some might say that we are actually in ‘The Wizard of Oz’-land, given the parallel universes we appear to be habituating."

And there was actually some bipartisan agreement here! Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), of recent "monkey court" fame, followed up later, "We're not in Kansas...We're in Oz."

Resolved: This morning's congressional hearing did not, in fact, take place in Kansas. That settles this Obamacare fight, yes?

5. Chicken Little


With Wizard of Oz apparently not satisfying the "references to childhood media" quotient, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) decided to bring Chicken Little into the discussion. He described the Republicans as Chicken Little, except as  "actually rooting for the sky to fall."





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Sarah Kliff · October 30, 2013

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