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Public Statements

Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act Of 2009

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act Of 2009

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Mr. McCAIN. Will the Senator yield?

Mr. ALEXANDER. Yes.

Mr. McCAIN. Isn't it, shall we say, Enron accounting when you have a proposal that, as soon as the bill becomes law, you begin to raise taxes and cut benefits, and then you wait 4 years before any of the benefits are then extended to the beneficiaries? That, on its face, is a remarkable piece of legislation. My experience, which has only been 20-some years, is that we haven't passed legislation that says we are going to collect taxes on it for 4 years, and then we are going to give you whatever benefits that may accrue from this legislation. Again, there has been no time in history where we have taken money from an already failing system to create a new entitlement program.

Mr. BAUCUS. Which colleague is the Senator asking that?

Mr. McCAIN. I believe the Senator from Tennessee has the floor.

Mr. BAUCUS. He does.

Mr. McCAIN. I was addressing the person who has the floor, which I am sure the Senator from Montana should understand by now.

Mr. ALEXANDER. I say to the Senator from Arizona that he is exactly right. Another way to describe it, the Senator from Kansas said it was like writing a big check on an overdrawn bank account and buying a big new car. Maybe another way, if I may respond to the Senator from Arizona--I ask unanimous consent that Republican Senators, on our time, be allowed to engage in a colloquy.

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Mr. McCAIN. Isn't it true--and the Senator from Montana is on the Senate floor and wants to enter into this. Maybe he can respond to his comments of 14 years ago. We weren't trying to create a new entitlement program, which is the object of the Senator's bill. We were just trying to enact some savings in the Medicare system.

What did Senator Baucus say? He said:

And above all, we must not use Medicare as a piggy bank.

What are we using the $483 billion in cuts in Medicare for?

Then he said:

That is disgraceful. Perhaps some changes lie ahead. But if they do, they should be made for the single purpose of keeping Medicare services for senior citizens and people with disabilities.

Isn't it true that now that we are taking $483 billion out of a failing system the Medicare trustees say is going to go bankrupt, and the Senator from Montana, 14 years ago, said:

Seniors could easily be forced to give up their doctor, as doctors begin to refuse Medicare patients and hospitals--especially rural hospitals--close.

Isn't that the effect of taking $483 billion in cuts in Medicare? Then the Senator from Montana went on to say:

Equivalent to blowing up the house and erecting a pup tent where it used to be.

Instead of blowing up a pup tent, I would say what they are doing is like a hydrogen bomb. Finally, Senator Baucus said:

Staggering. The leadership now proposes something like $250 billion in Medicare cuts. It is staggering. It is a reduction of nearly a quarter in Medicare services by the year 2002.

All of us here learn about the issues. Apparently, the Senator from Montana didn't learn much, because he was deeply concerned 14 years ago about a very small savings in Medicare. Now he wants to spend $2.5 trillion and taking $483 billion out of Medicare to create a new entitlement system.

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Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, may I just mention again, $70 billion in fraud, abuse, and waste, and Senator Coburn, the doctor, can tell you, that is nowhere in this bill. The fact is, maybe some of the providers have been bought off, jawboned, or had their arms twisted or given a good deal, like PhRMA has. Recipients have not. Medicare recipients know you cannot cut $483 billion without ultimately affecting their benefits, and that is a fact.

Again, conspicuous by its absence, I say to the Senator from Montana, totally conspicuous by its absence is any meaningful malpractice reform, which has been proven in the State of Texas and other States to reduce costs and to increase the supply of physicians and caregivers. There is nothing in this bill that is meaningful about medical malpractice reform.

I had a townhall meeting with doctors in my State, and everyone stood up and said: I practice defensive medicine because I fear being sued.

If you are really serious, I say to the Senator from Montana, if you are really serious about this, medical malpractice should be a key and integral part of it. Even the CBO costed it out at about $54 billion a year. When you count in all the defensive medicine, it could be as much as $200 billion over 10 years. That is conspicuous by its absence. I think it brings into question the dedication of really reducing health care costs across America.

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Mr. McCAIN. Will the Senator yield? Very briefly, the Senator from Montana talked about the support the bill gets. AARP makes more money from Medigap plans they sell to seniors. AARP should be opposing the bill, but other groups such as 60 Plus are educating seniors.

The AMA endorsement of the bill--shocking. The bill puts the government in charge, but AMA cut a deal to get their Medicare payments addressed by increasing the deficit by $250 billion.

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, will the Senator yield for a minute?

Mr. McCAIN. PhRMA--my God, if there ever was an obscene alliance made that will harm seniors because it has the administration against drug reimportation from Canada and competition for treatment of Medicare patients.

So now we understand a little bit better why these special interest groups, 500-some of them, have visited the White House in recent months, according to White House logs.

Mr. COBURN. The Senator would probably be interested to know--and, I know, my colleagues on the other side--that the American Medical Association now represents less than 10 percent of the actively practicing physicians in this country. The physicians as a whole in this country are adamantly opposed to this bill. The reason they are opposed to this bill is because you are inserting the government between them and their patient. That is why they are opposed to this bill.

So you have the endorsement of the AMA which represents less than 10 percent of the practicing doctors--actively practicing doctors--in this country because not only will it increase payments, but CPT code revenue is protected. That is the revenue AMA gathers from the payment system that continues to be fostered in this bill, which is their main source of revenue.

Mr. McCAIN. May I ask my colleague's indulgence for just a moment because, as you know, the majority leader seems to appear more and more frantic as he, perhaps, is reading the same polls we are that more and more Americans, when they figure out this legislation, are becoming more and more opposed to it.

Yesterday, the majority leader came out and directly addressed me, saying:

This man talks about earmarks, but his amendment is one big earmark to the insurance industry. And in addition to that, the sponsor of the amendment--

Talking about me--

during his Presidential campaign talked about cutting these moneys.

Mr. President, I hate, I say to my colleagues, to take a trip back down memory lane, but at the time--of course, this was echoed by a DNC spokesperson, who then echoed it throughout the blogosphere and leftwing liberal blogs. The fact is, on October 20, FactCheck.org says:

He accuses McCain of proposing to cut benefits. Not true.

This is from FactCheck.

In a TV ad and in speeches, Obama is making bogus claims that McCain plans to cut $880 billion from Medicare spending and to reduce benefits.

A TV spot says--

A very well-funded campaign, I might add--

McCain's plan requires ``cuts in benefits, eligibility, or both.''

Obama said in a speech that McCain plans ``cuts'' that would force seniors to ``pay more for your drugs, receive fewer services, and get lower quality care.''

A second ad claims that McCain's plan would bring about a 22 percent cut in benefits.

FactCheck.org says:

These claims are false, and based on a single newspaper report that says no such thing. McCain's policy director states unequivocally that no benefit cuts are envisioned.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record the entire FactCheck.org article.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD

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Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I hope the Senator from Nevada will stop making false claims--repeating the false claims that were in attack ads on me throughout the campaign, funded by tens of millions of dollars, about my positions on health care in America which the fact checkers found to be totally false.

As the narrator says that McCain's plan ``means a 22 percent cut in benefits,'' the ad displays a footnote citing an Oct. 6 Wall Street Journal story as its authority.

FactCheck:

But, in fact, the Journal story makes no mention of any 22 percent reduction, or any reduction at all.

I hope, among other things, in his, may I describe, frustration, that the Senate majority leader would at least not repeat false accusations about what I wanted to do in the Presidential campaign. It is unfortunate.

And I hope that maybe, instead of attacking David Broder, instead of attacking me, instead of attacking others who are in support of this amendment, maybe we could have a more meaningful discussion about the facts surrounding this legislation.

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