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Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act Of 2009 - Motion To Proceed

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. McCONNELL. Will the Senator from Arizona yield for an observation?

Mr. KYL. Absolutely.

Mr. McCONNELL. I certainly share the views of Senator McCain that letting these cuts stand is not likely. On the other hand, the President of the United States said he would veto any measure seeking to reverse these cuts. So we have a Hobson's choice: Either the cuts will occur in which case seniors will be devastated or they will not occur, as the Senator from Arizona has pointed out, and the deficit will balloon further.

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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, the Nation is watching the Senate tonight. The American people know how important this vote is. They have seen the bill the Democratic leaders want to impose upon them, and they want to know where the rest of us will stand.

This bill itself is a massive monument to bureaucracy and spending. But at its core it is quite simple. At a moment when more than 1 of 10 working Americans is looking for a job, at the time when the Chinese are lecturing us about our debt, this bill--this bill right here--costs $2 1/2 trillion the government doesn't have and cannot afford. It imposes punishing taxes on almost everyone. It raises health insurance premiums on the 85 percent of Americans who already have health insurance. And if that were not bad enough, it slashes Medicare by $ 1/2 trillion. Anyone who votes aye tonight is voting for all of these things.

It is a fact: A vote in favor of proceeding to this bill is a vote in favor of adding to the tax burden of the American people in the midst of double-digit unemployment. A vote in favor of proceeding to this bill is a vote to raise health insurance premiums on people who were told--they were told--that they could expect their health insurance costs to go down. A vote in favor of proceeding to this bill is a vote in favor of deep cuts to Medicare for tens of millions of seniors who depend on it totally. A vote to proceed to this bill is a vote to continue the completely out-of-control spending binge this Congress has been on all year. A vote in favor of this bill tells every American family sitting in a waiting room tonight, wondering when they will get to see a doctor or how much it is going to cost: It is not our concern. Worst of all, a vote in favor of this bill is a vote in favor of the spending binge that is leading to a massive and unsustainable, long-term debt that will shackle our children to a future they can't afford.

That is what tonight's vote is all about. If it weren't, none of us would be here on a Saturday night with the Nation watching and waiting to see what we do. They are watching because they know that none of this--none of this--is inevitable.

All it takes is one vote--just one. The simple math is this: If there were one Democrat, just one of our friends on the other side of the aisle, just one who would say no tonight, none of this would happen. The voices of the American people would be heard. We have seen all the surveys. We know how they feel. If one Democrat were to say no tonight, he would be saying no to the premium increases, no to the tax cuts, no to the Medicare cuts--just one on the other side of the aisle. Then we could start over with a commonsense, step-by-step approach to fix the problem that got us here in the first place, and that is that health care costs too much.

That is the sad irony of this whole debate. The problem that got us here is that health care costs are out of control. Yet the neutral, nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the scorekeeper around here, says under this bill--this massive bill--health care costs are actually going to go up, not down, and the American people thought that is what this whole debate was about in the first place. So 2,074 pages and trillions of dollars later--2,074 pages and trillions of dollars later--this bill doesn't even meet the basic goal the American people had in mind in what they thought this debate was all about--to lower costs. This bill will actually make the situation worse, and now we are about to vote on it.

We have heard some Senators come to the floor today and say that they oppose this bill, but they don't want to stop the debate. They oppose the bill, but they don't want to stop the debate. Nobody is suggesting we stop the debate. No one. Not a single Senator on this side of the aisle have I heard suggest that we stop the debate. But if we don't stop this bill tonight, the only debate we will be having--the only debate we will be having--is about higher premiums, not savings for the American people; higher taxes instead of lower costs, and cuts to Medicare rather than improving seniors' care. That is what the debate will be about.

The American people and 40 of us in this room sitting on this side of the aisle are not asking to end the debate. That is not what we have in mind, to end the debate. What we want to do is change the debate--not end it, change it--because once we get on this bill, ladies and gentlemen, the basic dimensions will not change. The basic dimensions will not change.

So I ask: Why should we consider a bill we already know the American people oppose? This is not anything anybody is in doubt about. The American people think if you don't like this bill, you have an obligation to try to stop it, and that opportunity will come at 8 o'clock.

I am sure this won't come as a surprise to any Member of the Senate, but it is going to take 60 votes to change this bill. That means the bill as introduced--this bill we are looking at right here--will fundamentally be the bill we will be asked to pass sometime in the future. That is a fact.

After tonight's vote we will all go home and face our constituents. We will have to tell them how we voted on raising their premiums, raising their taxes, and cutting their Medicare. For some of us, that is not going to be a very easy conversation, but it doesn't have to be that way. If you want to lower costs and premiums, then we can work together step by step and pass the commonsense reforms the American people have been asking for all along.

We can end junk lawsuits against doctors and hospitals which drive up costs. We can encourage healthy choices such as prevention and wellness programs which hold down costs. We can lower costs by letting consumers buy coverage across State lines. We can allow small businesses to band together to get lower insurance rates. And certainly we can address the rampant--absolutely rampant--waste, fraud, and abuse that drives up costs. All of those, my colleagues, are changes worth making.

The American people are looking at the Senate tonight. They are hoping we say no to this bill so we can start on a better plan that fixes the problem the American people care about most, and that is cost. They want us to start over. There is nothing about this massive bill they like. They want us to start over. They want us to address their real concerns. All it would take, Mr. President and my colleagues, is one Member of the other side of the aisle--just one--to give us an opportunity not to end the debate but to change the debate in the direction the American people would like us to go.

I yield the floor.

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