Advice To Congress: Caveat Venditor

State Highway 10 in western Arkansas is home to a Vietnamese restaurant named Vietnamese Restaurant. Owner Jerry Phan can sleep well knowing he will never mislead diners hungry for Chinese, Japanese, or Thai. In 1975, silly people paid $3.95 for a Pet Rock sold by Gary Dahl, an advertising executive who got rich with fun, clever packaging that explained the simple truth about his product: It’s a rock.

Mr. Phan and Mr. Dahl put into practice a concept Democrats continue to ignore, namely that Congress can’t sell health care reform to the American people without truth in advertising.

A successful marketing campaign for health care reform must do at least three things, none of which Congress does well. The campaign must tell the truth; it must explain the benefits of health care reform using language understood by an eighth-grader; it must be broadcast far and wide, loud and clear, until Congress is confident it’s been heard by the vast majority of Americans. A believable spokesman can’t hurt, either.

Meanwhile, a secretive Congress is rewinding its moral odometer and fiddling under the hood to get legislation off the lot before Americans, who are already suspicious, realize they are stuck holding the keys to a clunker. And, Congress has the gall to expect repeat buyers in November. Let the seller beware.