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Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, before my colleagues begin, I think it is important for us to point out where we are here on December 16, 2009. We are now almost a year into the discussion and debate about ``reforming health care in America'' and we still do not know what is in the bill. We still do not know the specifics of what we are considering here.
I have had the honor of serving here for a long period of time, but I have never seen a process like this. I have never seen a situation where a major piece of legislation is not before the body and is somehow being negotiated and renegotiated amongst the other side. Meanwhile, according to the Washington Post this morning, a newspaper I always have the utmost trust and confidence in--I wish to say the title is ``Public cooling to health-care reform as debate drags on, poll finds.''
As the Senate struggles to meet a self-imposed, year-end deadline to complete work on legislation to overhaul the nation's health-care system, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds the public generally fearful that a revamped system would bring higher costs while worsening the quality of their care.
A remarkable commentary about where we are in this legislation. One of the interesting things is this poll goes back to April, where in April, 57 percent of the American people approved and 29 disapproved of the President's handling of health care. Today it is 53 disapprove and 44 approve, which means the American people, the more they find out about this, the less they like it and the more concerned they are. According to this poll again:
Medicare is the Government health insurance program for people 65 and older. Do you think health-care reform would strengthen the Medicare program, weaken Medicare or have no effect on it?
American people have figured it out. Amongst seniors, those who are in Medicare, 12 percent say it would strengthen, 22 percent no effect, and 57 percent of seniors in America believe--and they are correct--that this proposal would weaken Medicare, the benefit they paid into and that they have earned.
Let me say it again: I plead with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle and the majority leader. Let's stop this. The American people do not approve of it. Let's sit down and work together; let's have real negotiations; let's even have the C-SPAN cameras in, as the President promised October a year ago. This present legislation spends too much, taxes too much, and reduces benefits for American citizens as far as overall health care is concerned, including Medicare, as the American people have figured out.
I welcome my colleagues here. I see Dr. Coburn is here. Let me restate: It is time to say stop. It is time to start listening to the American people. It is time to start being straightforward with the American people because the American people need to know what we are doing and they do not. The distinguished Senator from Illinois, last Friday when I asked him what is in the bill, said none of us know what is in the bill.
I ask my friend from Oklahoma, isn't what is happening--we have a proposal, we send it to CBO, CBO sends back numbers they do not like so they try to fix it, send it back to CBO, they send it back again. That is why only one Senator, the majority leader, knows what is going on.
Mrs. HUTCHISON. Mr. President, parliamentary inquiry.
Mr. McCAIN. What is the parliamentary situation, I ask the President?
Mrs. HUTCHISON. Mr. President, I was under the impression there would be a 30-minute allocation for colloquy for our side. I am not sure when we start that process.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Republican side has 25 minutes 15 seconds.
Mrs. HUTCHISON. How many?
The PRESIDING OFFICER. There is 25 minutes 15 seconds.
Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I thank the Chair. I think I have made my point here. I wish to yield. I ask unanimous consent to have a colloquy with the Senator from South Dakota, the Senator from Texas, the Senator from Oklahoma, and the Senator from Wyoming.
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