The alternately staid and contentious Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing earlier this week to discuss the vexing problem of ever-increasing health insurance premiums was not without its lighter moments. One such interlude came thanks to the comedic stylings of Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.).
What does the Swiss system mean to him, Al Franken?
In one exchange among senators speaking from the elevated dais of the wood-paneled and historic committee room, the former “Saturday Night Live” actor channeled his inner Maximilian Schell.
Describing a documentary from the recent past on health insurance policies in other industrialized countries, Franken noted that even Switzerland, which also utilizes private insurance, ensures that every citizen receives coverage.
He then quoted the reaction of an unnamed Swiss official to a problem some Americans face.
“He was asked ‘Has anyone in Switzerland since these reforms gone bankrupt.' And he said ‘No, that would be a shame. That would be a disgrace,'” Franken said with a heavy German accent.
The unexpected impersonation was greeted by a round of giggles from spectators.
It was a rare light moment for the senator who has cultivated a generally serious and dour mien on Capitol Hill. Franken rarely gives hallway interviews to congressional reporters and never offers them jokes and tales from the old SNL days.
You can follow Rich Daly on Twitter @MHRdaly.
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