SERVICE MEMBERS HOME OWNERSHIP TAX ACT OF 2009 -- (Senate - December 21, 2009)
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Mr. DeMINT. Madam President, we have heard a lot about the unsustainable mountain of government debt, bureaucracy, and spending the Democratic majority intends to create in rushing their health care proposal through this Chamber. We have also heard a lot about how much of this they inherited. We need to remember that this Congress--both Houses of Congress--has been controlled by the Democratic Party for 3 years now. The President does not write legislation or spend money; the Congress does. The only thing the Democratic majority has inherited is its own irresponsible spending.
Saturday's release of the final Democratic bill only increases America's concern with this Congress, its shadow negotiations, and our growing debt.
Early this morning, all 60 Democrats voted to force all the taxpayers of this country to pay for bailouts and special favors for several States. Rather than actually taking the time to put forth real health care reform proposals that would increase Americans' ability to buy and own health care plans they could really afford, this plan forces over 15 million Americans onto yet another bankrupt entitlement program, Medicaid.
While Medicaid is a State and Federal shared program, the Democratic majority saw fit for the Federal Government to pay 100 percent of the Medicaid Program in the State of Nebraska under this legislation at the expense of taxpayers in the other 49 States, who will now be forced not only to deal with the loss of their freedoms under this huge government takeover but to pay for special favors in other States.
This State bailout is not the only downside of the majority's health care proposal; there is a laundry list we could go through. Just a few include that the working American taxpayers and their employers will be taxed $500 billion over the next 10 years, and the Congressional Budget Office has confirmed that nothing in this bill decreases the premiums for Main Street Americans.
Seniors will see their Medicare benefits changed as a result of the $500 billion in Medicare cuts included in this bill, not to mention that this bill turns a blind eye to the physician payment system that is woefully underfunded and vitally necessary to maintain the Medicare Program and physician access for seniors. It does not matter how good the insurance is we give our seniors if they cannot find a doctor who will see them.
Another alarming part of this bill is it will, for the first time in decades, force every American taxpayer to pay for abortion services.
Frankly, after reading this bill, it seems the only Americans who are not going to be affected by the bill are Members of Congress, pharmaceutical companies, and insurance companies.
Madam President, for all the mind-boggling numbers and devastating facts we have heard about the majority's government takeover of health care, this debate is about much more than health care. It is about how we find ourselves in a situation where we are debating the best way to give the government control over another big part of our lives and our economy.
In the children's story of ``Hansel and Gretel,'' the children drop a trail of breadcrumbs as they walk through the forest so they will be able to find their way out of the woods. But when the birds eat the breadcrumbs, the children find they are lost in the dark and frightening woods.
Well, lost in the woods is exactly where we find ourselves as a country right now. We know we are in trouble, but there is no clearly marked path to get us back to where we were, and it is plenty frightening.
In the past year alone, this Federal Government has taken over two of our largest automakers, our largest insurance companies, the largest mortgage company, and hundreds of banks. It has bailed out Wall Street and attempted to stimulate the economy by taking $1 trillion out of the private sector and spending it on wasteful government programs. It has thrown taxpayer money at people to encourage them to buy new cars and houses. And it is looking at imposing massive new job-killing taxes on businesses in the name of reducing global warming--all in the middle of a snowstorm.
One of the problems we have now in this country is, instead of asking if we should solve it, we are asking, how should we solve it? It is now considered a sign of admirable restraint to occasionally ask here in this Senate and in this Congress, how much should we spend? And somehow we started thinking that anything less than $1 trillion is a good deal. There is not a pothole in America that most Members of the Congress do not believe should be filled with an earmark from the Federal Government. There is not a bridge to nowhere, a flat tire, a skinned knee--there is nothing off limits for this Congress today.
This matters not just because of our unsustainable debt and the huge amount of money we waste; it matters because every time we give a job to the government, we take away some control people have over their own lives, and we take away a little bit more of their freedom. In return for letting government try its hand at solving a problem, we as citizens cede our ability to try for ourselves to find a better way.
It is awkward to admit it, but my colleagues in Congress have led this country into the woods, despite our oath of office. We swore to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and to bear true and faithful allegiance to it. The Constitution prescribes a very limited role for the Federal Government. There is not a word in our oath or in the Constitution about most of what we do. As we have wandered off the path of liberty, there are few crumbs left of the Constitution in the Halls of Congress to lead us out of the woods.
There is not a word in the Constitution about the government deciding what medical test private health insurers should pay for, nothing about the government deciding how much executives on Wall Street should earn or what kind of lightbulbs or cars we should buy. There is nothing about the thousands of parochial earmarks that fund local bridges to nowhere, golf courses, bike paths, sewer plants, and teapot museums. There is nothing about these or many other things in the Constitution because they have nothing to do with the proper role of the Federal Government in a free society. But these are exactly the kinds of things our government spends its time and money on, and we do not even question anymore why that is.
Instead, it has gotten to the point where if we oppose the government doing anything, we are accused of being opposed to getting it done. That is patently absurd. If you really want to get something done and get it done right, the government is absolutely the last place we should turn.
The tea parties, townhalls, and rallies affirm that the American people are rethinking the appropriate role of the government in a free society. Hopefully, their discontent will be demonstrated in the 2010 elections. Only the American people can hold our elected Federal representatives accountable for fulfilling their oath of office. In the health care debate, this means deciding exactly what role the government should play to help people in the private sector find solutions, instead of creating a monstrous new bureaucracy that puts the government in charge of every decision.
But this debate is about much more than health care. It is a battle for the heart and soul of America. It is a struggle between freedom and socialism, between free markets and a centrally planned economy, and between ``we the people'' and an entrenched class of elite politicians.
The current debate over health care reform is a symptom of a bigger problem in Washington. But it can be the catalyst for a wider debate about the proper role of government in our lives. The same debate can lead us to a moment when Americans finally take a stand to return government to its proper place--and we can all start finding our way out of the woods.
Madam President, I yield the floor.
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