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Public Statements

Department Of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. McCAIN. I thank the Senator from Tennessee who also understands this issue as well as or better than anyone, having been a Governor and recognizing the problems the Governors face.

If I could step back a second, Governor Schwarzenegger is a very astute observer of the political scene in California. May I point out to my colleagues, in this morning's Wall Street Journal: ``Democrats' Blues Grow Deeper in New Poll,'' and then: ``Support for Health Overhaul Wanes.''

There is some remarkable information concerning the mood and views of the American people, following on a Washington Post ABC News poll out yesterday that says 51 percent of Americans say they oppose the proposed changes to the system; 44 percent approve.

Thanks to the efforts of so many people, including our leadership, we have turned American public opinion because we have been informing them of the consequences of passage of this legislation.

Let me quote from the Wall Street Journal article:

More Americans now believe it is better to keep the current health system than to pass President Barack Obama's plan, according to a new Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll. Findings mark a shift from the fall when the overhaul enjoyed the edge over the status quo. According to the poll, 44 percent of Americans said it is better to pass no plan at all compared with 41 percent who said it is better to pass the plan.

What they are saying is: Don't do this government takeover; don't increase taxes; don't increase spending; don't increase the costs. It is a remarkable shift, thanks to informing the American people.

Could I mention a couple of other points made in this poll in the Wall Street Journal. In September, 45 percent of Americans said they wanted the plan passed; 39 percent wanted to ``keep the current system.'' In December, in polling out today, only 41 percent of the American people want it passed, and 44 percent say keep the current system.

Then, of course, we have another interesting statistic:

Trust that the government will do what is right: 21 percent say always or most of the time; 46 percent say only some of the time; and 32 percent of the American people say almost never.

Of course, the anger and disapproval of this health care plan right now is the centerpiece of Americans' dissatisfaction of the way we do business.

Let me say finally, because my colleagues wish to speak, we don't have a bill. We don't have a bill. Here we have been debating all this time and we do not have legislation. This was one of the bills we were presented with, but we know that significant changes are being made behind closed doors. We don't have a CBO estimate of the cost, do we? We understand they keep sending estimates over to CBO and it comes back and so they send them back, which probably is why last week the Senator from Illinois, the No. 2 ranking Democrat, said to me, I don't know what is in the bill either. I have the exact quote:

I would say to the Senator from Arizona that I am in the dark almost as much as he is, and I am in the leadership.

That is an interesting commentary.

Of course, the issue of the protection of the rights of the unborn is still unclear. That is a big issue for a lot of Americans. It is a big issue with me, and I know it is a big issue with my colleagues.

So here we are back, off of the bill itself, and apparently we are going to have some kind of vote on Christmas Eve or something such as that.

What the American people are saying now is, when they say keep the status quo, they are saying: Stop. Go back to the beginning. Sit down on a bipartisan basis and let's get this done, but let's get it done right.

Americans know that Medicare is going broke. Americans know that costs are rising too quickly, but Americans want us to do this right and not in a partisan fashion and not with a bill that costs too much, taxes too much, and deprives people of their benefits.

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Mr. McCAIN. Madam President, isn't that a violation of the commitment that was made that for 72 hours any legislation would be online, not just for us to see but for all Americans to see?

Could I ask the Senator from Kentucky, the Republican leader: Is it not the perception now that this bill is probably going to be pushed through? Through various parliamentary procedures, the majority will try to force a final vote on this legislation, no matter what, before we leave? Isn't that in contradiction to what the majority of the American people are saying, that they want us to do nothing? Is this a responsible way to govern, to have the Senate in round the clock, 24 hours, people on the floor, quorum calls and all this kind of stuff; and there would also be no amendments allowed at that time for us to at least address some of the issues of this bill that begins cutting Medicare by $500 billion, increases taxes by $500 billion on January 1, and in 4 years begins spending $2.5 trillion? Is this a process the American people are reacting to in a negative fashion, obviously, by polling data?

By the way, I ask unanimous consent that the Wall Street Journal article entitled ``Democrats' Blues Grow Deeper in New Poll'' and ``Support for Health Overhaul Wanes'' be printed in the Record.

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

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Mr. McCAIN. May I mention to my colleague that maybe the reason why they don't want it to be online for 72 hours is because when they examined what we have--on page 324 in this bill is an $8 billion tax on individuals who have nongovernment approved plans. On page 348 is a $28 billion tax on businesses that cannot afford to offer insurance to their employees. On page 1979: Raises an almost $150 billion tax on many middle-class workers using so-called Cadillac health insurance plans. Page 1997: Will cost families and individuals an additional $5 billion by prohibiting the use of savings set aside for health care expenses through health savings accounts. Page 2010: Will make the cost of lifesaving medicine more expensive by taxing pharmaceutical research firms an additional $22 billion. The list goes on and on, including on page 2040: Increasing Medicare payroll taxes by $53.8 billion.

That may be a reason why it is going to be difficult for them to win passage of this after 72 hours of examining this bill.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. McCAIN. Well, I don't think that is being added today. Again, I also point out that Americans are now against passage of this legislation. But in that polling data, it is very interesting, also, the majority of seniors, by much larger numbers--the actual beneficiaries of Medicare--are turning against it, and the intensity of Americans against it--which is harder to gauge in a poll--is incredible.

If the responses that our efforts are getting are anything close to indicative of the mood of the American people, and the intensity of it, it is probably as great as I have ever seen in the years that I have had the privilege of serving in the Congress of the United States.

This polling data says more Americans now believe it is better to keep the current health system than to pass President Obama's plan. That is a message being sent, and the intensity is higher than any I have ever observed in my years of service. I thank them for that.

There is a chance that we can stop this, and we start in January. We would be willing to come back and sit down and negotiate, with the C-SPAN cameras on--as the President said or committed he would do as a candidate. We would sit down together here, at the White House, or anywhere, and we can fix this system that we all know needs fixing.

As the Senator from Oklahoma said, it is the cost that has to be addressed, not the quality.

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Mr. McCAIN. I ask the Senator from Oklahoma, would that aspect of this bill come to light if it hadn't been for the recommendation that was made by another similarly acting policymaking body? In other words, that is what triggered the investigation of what was in this bill, which would have had exactly the same effect. So if we hadn't had that information of a recommendation by another government policymaking bureaucracy, we would not have known about this until the bill would have taken effect.

Mr. COBURN. So there is no transparency. What we do know is that we are going to have three organizations, the Medicare Advisory Commission, the Cost Comparative Effectiveness Panel, and the U.S. Preventive Health Task Force that will tell everybody in America what they are going to receive.

Mr. McCAIN. This example wouldn't have been known if it hadn't been for the actions of the bureaucracy. Doesn't that bring into question what else is buried in this 2,000-page piece of legislation?

Mr. COBURN. What are the unintended consequences of this that they don't know? What we do know is there are 70 new Government programs that will require over 20,000 new Federal employees, and there are 1,690 different times when the Secretary of HHS will write rules and regulations about your health care in America--the Secretary, not your doctor; your doctor isn't going to write the regulations. The Secretary of HHS is going to write the rules.

Mr. McCAIN. Let me point out again that we don't know what the CBO estimate is, because we know the majority leader keeps bouncing proposals back and forth to CBO. That is why we haven't had CBO information now for many days. But there is the Commission for Medicare and Medicaid, which clearly points out that this legislation would increase taxes dramatically, increase costs dramatically, decrease care, and it would have the effect of forcing people not only out of the system, but even if they are in the Medicare system, they would not have physicians to provide the care, because more and more physicians would fail to treat Medicare patients.

Mr. COBURN. So we go back to the 72 hours. We are going to get a new bill, but we will not have the opportunity to amend it. We are not going to be able to read it and study it, nor are the American people. What do you think the outcome of that will be?

Mr. McCAIN. I think we know what the outcome will be. We will either be able to reflect the feelings and intense feelings of the majority of the American people about this legislation and say let's go back to square one and all commit to a bipartisan approach to this issue or we will see jammed through on Christmas Eve legislation that will have the most far-reaching effects and devastating effects, I think, not only on our ability to provide much-needed medical care to all of our citizens, but also an impact that would be devastating on the debt and deficit, upon which we have laid an unconscionable burden already.

We have two choices--to go back to the beginning and enact many reforms we can agree on--and there are many we could agree on immediately on a bipartisan basis; as the Senator from Tennessee pointed out, there has never been a fundamental reform made in modern history that was not bipartisan--or we are going to see jammed through, over the objections of a majority of Americans, legislation that they have never seen, read, or understand.

That is the choice we have. That is what it is boiling down to. I think that, frankly, the American people should be heard, not a majority over on the other side.

Mr. BARRASSO. The American people are saying: Don't cut my Medicare, don't raise my taxes, don't make things worse than they are right now, and this bill cuts Medicare, raises taxes, and for people depending on a health care system in this country this makes things worse.

Mr. McCAIN. By the way, could I mention, if you live long enough, all things can happen. I now find myself in complete agreement with Dr. Howard Dean, who says we should stop this bill in its tracks; we should go back to the beginning and have an overall bipartisan agreement. Dr. Dean, I am with you.

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Mr. McCAIN. Yes. I have been around here 20-some years. It is the first time I have ever seen a Member denied an extra minute or two to finish his remarks. I must say that I don't know what is happening here in this body, but I think it is wrong.

It is fine with me that it be 10 minutes.

I will tell you, I have never seen a Member denied an extra minute or so, as the Chair just did.

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Mr. McCAIN. Madam President, I thank my friend from Michigan. I thank him for his leadership of the Armed Services Committee.

The train is about to leave the station on the last of the appropriations bills for 2010 and, unfortunately, nothing has changed. Everything is the same--earmarking, porkbarrel, excessive and unnecessary spending. Billions in wasteful earmarks again have found their way into this bill which could otherwise be spent for the priorities that our men and women, our military leaders, as well as the Secretary of Defense, has asked for.

There is in this bill--here we go again: an appropriations bill loaded up with earmarks--a 523-page explanatory statement for 1,720 earmarks totaling $4.3 billion. Let's do some simple math: $4.3 billion in pork, $2.5 billion in unauthorized and unrequested C-17s; $500 million in unrequested and unwanted funding for the Joint Strike Fighter alternative engine; and a Presidential helicopter. That is $7.3 billion that neither the military nor the Defense Department requested and does not need--$7.3 billion.

Some people say that is not a lot of money. It is enough to keep the State of Arizonas budget requirements fulfilled for 10 months. States across America are facing great difficulties, as we know, and an additional $7.3 billion would not be so bad.

I wish to say, again, this process of earmarking breeds corruption. That is why we have former Members of Congress in Federal prison. It was not inadequate disclosure requirements that led Duke Cunningham to violate his oath of office and take $2.5 million in bribes in exchange for doling out $70 million to $80 million of the taxpayers' funds to a defense contractor. It was his ability to freely earmark taxpayer funds without question.

I wish to point out, again, the President pledged during the campaign he would work to eliminate earmarks. The President, last March, when we had an omnibus spending bill, said they would not do it anymore. In September, the President spoke in Phoenix, AZ, to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. In that speech, the President's words were quite compelling about waste and porkbarrel spending in Defense bills. In that speech, the President promised--promised--an end to ``special interests and their exotic projects'' and reaffirmed he was leading the charge to kill off programs such as the F-22, the second engine for the Joint Strike Fighter, and the outrageously expensive Presidential helicopter.

The President went on to say:

If a project doesn't support our troops, we will not fund it. If a system doesn't perform well, we will terminate it. And if Congress sends me a bill loaded with that kind of waste, I will veto it. We will do right by our troops and taxpayers.

Mr. President, I can tell you, the President of the United States, that meets your criteria with over $7 billion of unnecessary, unwanted spending. Will the President veto this bill? Not a chance. Not a chance. But the American people are going to demand this obscene process stop. The American people are going to demand it be stopped, wasting $7 billion of their tax dollars on wasteful and earmark spending. I am confident they are aware. They are aware we are spending $7.6 million to fund research in Montana on hypersonic wind tunnels, called MARIAH. This self-licking ice cream cone has been earmarked and unrequested since 1998. The Air Force lost interest in 2004, so the appropriators moved it to the Army. The Army has no requirement for this capability and published a report in 2005 stating their disinterest in the program. In summary, we spent $70 million for some hypersonic wind tunnels nobody wants--$70 million. Unless we demand and receive change, there will be more millions in it next year.

There is $5 million going to the battleship USS Missouri Memorial Association; $18.9 million for a center at the University of Massachusetts ``dedicated to educating the general public, students, teachers, new Senators, and Senate staff about the role and importance of the Senate.'' What does that have to do with defending this Nation? What does that have to do with providing the men and women who are risking their lives, as we speak, with the equipment they need? Madam President, $18.9 million to educate the public about the importance of the Senate? Give me a break.

There is $9.5 million going to the University of Hawaii for a program called the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Raid Response System. The list goes on and on. The Air Force is paying for this, and the Air Force will not be allowed to be getting much in return, since it will only be allowed to use the telescope 5 percent of the time. In other words, in dollar figures, the Air Force pays $10 million to the university and receives $500,000 in return.

What is more, the Air Force has not, in the 9-year life of this earmark, requested a single dollar for this program. Since 2001, the Air Force has been forced to spend more than $75 million of its budget allocation on a program it does not want.

I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record these other porkbarrel earmark programs, such as $1.2 million for the American Museum of Natural History Infectious Disease Research.

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

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Mr. McCAIN. Madam President, the list goes on and on: $2 million for the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's operating room of the future in Los Angeles, CA. That is the second earmark I have seen. The other one is for irritable bowel syndrome. Now we have the operating room of the future. Remarkable.

There is $2.3 million for marine species; $2 million for a marine mammal detection system. There is a threat. Also, $2.4 million for marine mammal awareness alert and response system. The list goes on and on.

I know my time is near to expire.

Here we are with a deficit of $1.4 trillion for this year, a debt of over $12 trillion, unemployment at 10 percent, 900,000 families lost their homes in 2008, and we are spending over $7 billion on earmarks, porkbarrel projects the Department of Defense neither needed nor wants, and there are programs not fully funded because of this that are vital to defending the lives of the men and women who are serving in the military.

Again, this appropriations bill is a disgrace.

Madam President, I yield the floor.

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