Press Conference With House Minority Leader John Boehner, Vermont Governor Jim Douglas; House Minority Whip Eric Cantor; South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds; Representative Mary Fallin; Representative Mike Pence; Subjects: Health Care Reform, Cap And Trade, Energy
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REP. BOEHNER: (In progress) -- Democrat health care plan will do just the opposite. It is a complete government takeover of our health care system, which is going to lead to higher taxes, rationing and a lower quality in our health care system.
House Republicans have a proposal we've put on the table that will provide affordable access to high quality health insurance for every American, and I believe that the Democrats ought to be working with us to do our best to help deliver health insurance to more Americans, yet at this point; they've not reached out to us. We continue to reach our hands out to say, listen, work with us. If we're going to have true health care reform, it needs to be bipartisan and it needs to keep the interests of Americans at the beginning of this process.
And with that, Governor, would you like to say something?
GOV. DOUGLAS: Well, thank you, I'm Jim Douglas from Vermont.
I want to echo the Leader's sentiments about the importance of a bipartisan approach to health care reform. This is an increasingly large percentage of our Gross Domestic Product. It's an increasingly large percentage of state budgets all across the nation. We need to get these costs under control. We need to change the way we deliver health care to pay for quality rather than quantity, to focus on prevention, on chronic disease management, on ensuring that the American taxpayer and rate payer gets the best bang for his or her buck.
So Governor Rounds and I are here for some meetings with Democratic leaders, as well as the Republican Caucus. I want to make sure that all the good ideas from the Republicans are considered in this process. The American people need a bipartisan solution. We've done it in Vermont. We have a program called Green Mountain Care that is based on prevention, on chronic disease management. We've saved hundreds of millions of dollars through the flexibility that we've received through our Medicaid waivers.
So the message that the leader articulated is an important one, no unfunded mandates to the states, flexibility so that states can experiment and do it their own way and the focus on quality and outcome so that we can control costs for the American people.
GOV. ROUNDS: Mike Rounds in South Dakota. Ninety-one percent of our people have a plan for taking care of their health care; nine percent don't. We can do better. The reason that we're here today is to participate and we would love to see it be a bipartisan effort, one in which we can improve health care, but at the same time, we have to be able to pay for it.
Concerns that we're expressing are that as states, we know that we share part of that burden. Today, we're really struggling. We know the federal government is struggling. Anything that we do on health care we have to have a long-term plan to pay the bills. If we don't have that, it would not be sustainable and it would not be an improvement.
In South Dakota, we think that there are more reforms that can be done. In 2003, we had three insurance companies left offering individual health care products, today, we have 18 because we've opened up the market and we've made it competitive. We've laid the ground rules out, but we did it in such a fashion that it worked for South Dakota.
We don't want to have the states lose the ability to be that laboratory where we can make things better. That's the reason that we're here today. We look forward to a very good discussion and coming up with a good plan; Republicans and Democrats alike can look at and say, we did something good for the rest of America.
REP. CANTOR: Good morning. As we now are in the week of cap and trade in the House, I think it is becoming evermore apparent of how the Democratic agenda for the people of this country is disconnected with the reality that American families face every day. Plain and simple, it's about jobs and it's about this failing economy. And the cap and trade bill is, at best, counterproductive toward trying to address those challenges.
When we look at the impact of this bill on American families, what we see is a job killer. There are studies out there that have indicated, on the one hand, the MIT study says the $3,000 cost to a family of four as a result of this cap and trade bill. There are others, the CBO study that was out as recently as last week, which said that there is a $1,600 plus impact cost on a family of four.
Today, now, we are reading - there are reports that have come out this week that CBO has now reduced its cost estimate to say that it's only $160 that families will be impacted by the cap and trade bill. I think that, now, CBO has entered the realm of losing its credibility.
You know, there is no question that the cap and trade bill will cost millions of jobs and, you know, it is pretty evident I think now given the word that we're hearing that the other side has 190 votes at this point, far short of that which are needed to pass this bill and I think it reflects a weariness on the part of the American people of the cost and consequences of the Democratic agenda. And that's why Republicans will stay focused on jobs, on the economy and on families' financial security.
REP. FALLIN: I'm Mary Fallin, I come from Oklahoma and in my state, of course, we have a rich energy industry and oil and gas and alternative energy with wind and solar and people in Oklahoma are very concerned about the discussions here about energy.
We do want in Oklahoma to have a cleaner environment. We do want cleaner air, cleaner water, cleaner land, but we don't want it at the expense of losing jobs and in a state that has an abundance of oil and gas jobs in our economy, we're already seeing jobs that are being cut in our state just because there's discussion here in Washington, DC.
We have a plan here in our Republican Caucus to develop all forms of energy, whether it's wind, solar, nuclear, alternative fuels, bio- diesel fuels, clean natural gas, clean coal technology. There are other alternatives besides the national energy tax, which is set to increase our utility costs anywhere from 30 to 50 percent and we have families that are back home in our states that are suffering from a recession, that are worried about their jobs, worried about making their mortgage payments, to talk about increasing utility rates by 30 to 50 percent would be a huge burden upon our families, not even to mention our businesses and manufacturing to affect our job markets.
We're already seeing gasoline prices rise because we're at summertime, estimated it would increase gasoline costs, too, and so we need to sit back and be careful and thoughtful about what we're doing to produce American-made energy to encourage innovation, research and development and to American-made products while also working on the clean energy.
And let me just say something about the health care debate. I appreciate the governors coming today to visit with us about what they're doing in innovation in their states. In Oklahoma, we've created our own plan called Ensure Oklahoma to take care of those that are uninsured, to work with the private sector and the government where they can partner together to find reasonable, cost-supportive health care that allows patient doctor choice, allows access to care.
So I appreciate the governors coming today to help us here on health care because there's some great innovative ways that we can cover the uninsured, that we can lower costs and create better access and preventive care.
REP. : Earlier this year, we saw the administration set an arbitrary deadline for a trillion dollar stimulus bill. One of the promises it made was that unemployment would not go beyond eight percent in the United States if the bill was passed. Painfully, those promises and predictions have been disproven.
Just yesterday in Michigan, we saw within our manufacturing base, General Motors announcing 4,000 white collar layoffs by the end of the year. The response of this Democratic Congress is what? To pass cap and tax legislation that will adversely affect, not only all American jobs, all American working families, but manufacturing, in particularly. The very same arbitrary deadline which we saw in the past has been repeated and I believe that the promises and predictions they made will also be disproven.
One of the things we are supposed to do representing our constituents in Washington is to step back from the insanity of trying to inject reality into the legislative process. I want you to think about what this bill means. The fundamental rationale behind this cap and tax legislation is this: Government will control the weather by raising your taxes, taking your job and dictating your life. That sounds very unappealing to those of us in the Republican Party and we think it's unappealing to the Americans who, right now, are suffering under a recession.
We think the president should get this economy moving and stop taking steps that will further hinder it and further harm working families.
REP. PENCE: Thank you all for being here, Mike Pence, Conference Chairman.
I was home in Indiana earlier this week at town hall meetings in places like Connersville and Richmond, Indiana. I saw confirmation, not only in the statistics for those communities, but in the faces of the citizens that this economy is hurting. The American people are struggling. The people of Indiana are struggling under the weight of extraordinary unemployment and remarkably, House Democrats are planning this Friday to bring a national energy tax to the floor of the House of Representatives at precisely the time when Americans and American businesses in the city and on the farm can least afford it.
As Mr. Cantor suggested, there are competing estimates about the costs of this national energy tax, but interestingly, there is no debate that the energy costs to average American households and businesses will rise and this national energy tax will cost millions of American jobs.
A recent study by the Charles Rivers Associates suggested that even including the green jobs that would be created under the cap and trade legislation that our GDP could be reduced by as much as two million lost jobs per year.
The president himself said that utility rates would, quote, "necessarily skyrocket," and even though the president yesterday said that the costs of this legislation would be, quote, "paid for by polluters," in January of 2008, then-candidate Obama said that as utility rates rose that those would be passed along to consumers and I believe he was right a year ago.
Well, Republicans have a better solution. Republicans have developed an all of the above strategy that sends us decisively in the direction of energy independence, more jobs and a cleaner environment. It's called the American Energy Act. It's gotten a great reception across the country in districts of our members. We believe that the choice between energy independence and more jobs and a cleaner environment of the Republican alternative than the national energy tax, we know which the American people will choose in a free and open debate.
Q Can you talk about homeland security incorporation and the number of amendments -- (inaudible) --
REP. BOEHNER: It doesn't appear that way. Listen, they're trying to ramrod as much spending through this Congress as they can and as fast as they can. That's why they continue to limit the number of amendments, to try to stifle debate and I've got to believe that Thomas Jefferson would be rolling over in his grave if he saw how House Democratic leaders were running the Congress of the United States. They're turning it into a banana republic.
Q Will you slow that process down at all today do you think?
REP. BOEHNER: We'll see.
Q (Off mike.) Single payer system is off the table. How much does that invigorate the House Republicans?
REP. BOEHNER: Well, I think government taking control of our health care is exactly what the American people don't want. All Americans believe that we ought to help those who don't have health insurance find a way to get it and there's no debate between the parties about the need for high quality, affordable health insurance for all Americans. The question is: How do you get there?
I think our plan builds on the current system to improve access for all Americans.
We don't need a board in Washington deciding what treatments are appropriate for patients. We don't need government bureaucrats to get in between the relationships between doctors and their patients, and we certainly don't need to raise trillions of dollars of new taxes to pay for this government-run option.
And so House Republicans are encouraged that our Senate colleagues continue to stand up and say no to this bizarre notion that the government ought to run health care.
Q Mr. Boehner, now that it seems clear that -- (inaudible) -- on what is usually more of an open process. What implications does it have for the overall partisan atmosphere in the House for the rest -
REP. BOEHNER: Well, they won't allow us to debate amendments to cut spending on these appropriation bills, won't even allow us to debate it, it's going to get pretty ugly on the floor of the House.
Listen, we're serious about cutting spending. They're serious about spending more and so let the debate begin.
REP. CANTOR: Thanks, everybody.