More Government Won't Work
Ms. FOXX. Mr. Speaker, today I had the great pleasure of holding a town hall meeting in one of the towns in the Fifth District in North Carolina, Statesville, North Carolina.
I didn't count the number of folks there, and I haven't had a chance to ask my staff exactly how many were there, but I think probably about 175 people were there.
We let these folks put in questions or their names into a box, and we pull their names out randomly and let them speak about the health care bill. This was a health care town hall. And to a person who spoke, and there were probably about a dozen who had a chance to speak for about 2 minutes, and I answered their questions, they all are very upset about what is going on here in Congress. They are upset about many, many things, but they are particularly upset about this government takeover of our health care system, and they just don't understand why the folks in the majority continue to push this issue knowing that the majority of the people in this country are very much opposed to it.
They very much are concerned about what they have heard and read about the way this is going to be pushed through this week. They hate it when bills are put together that aren't germane to each other or that aren't related. They heard about the education bill being put on the health care bill, and they are very concerned about that. They just don't like that.
They said over and over again they know that the government does not do things more efficiently and effectively than the private sector. One businessman talked about how he has been struggling for the last year. He has used up all his savings, all his equity in the last year to keep his business going because the economy is so bad, and he wants to know, where is that stimulus that he thought that we were getting?
So it was a great town hall, because they talked about what was on their mind and got a chance to ask me questions.
When I told them about the plan to do this reconciliation bill, where the folks on the majority side are going to go from passing bills without reading them to passing bills without voting for them, they understood what a threat that is to our entire way of life. They understand that that is a threat to the rule of law, and they are very much concerned about that.
I told them of the President meeting with us at our retreat and saying, You know, I was wrong when I said over and over again that you can keep your health insurance if you like it. But, he said, I made a mistake by saying that, because some cats and dogs got into that Senate bill that we weren't planning to get into that bill. But we are going to take care of that.
But guess what. That is not going to get taken care of. And the President, I understand, made that comment again this week, saying out on the stump, If you like your plan you can keep it--when he told the Republicans at our retreat that is absolutely not true.
We have a major problem, Mr. Speaker, in this country. We have people trying to establish a takeover of our lives from birth to death. They want the government to run our lives and to make all of our decisions for us.
I have an article, Mr. Speaker, from The Washington Times, Wednesday, January 20, 2010, that says ``More Government Won't Work.''
[From the Washington Times, Jan. 20, 2010]
Editorial: More Government Won't Work
Government is bigger than ever and controls more aspects of American life than at any time in U.S. history. Last year, the federal government ate $3.52 trillion out of a $13.2 trillion economy. With the current trajectory of big government under the Democrats, the federal bureaucracy will devour as much as 50 percent of this nation's economic activity by midcentury. To illustrate how wasteful that is, take a look at the empty space above this editorial. That's what government creates--nothing.
A basic problem with a future dominated by ever-expanding government is that bureaucracies are hobbled by waste, fraud and abuse. Government simply does not work well. Freedom works, but the more government that exists, the less freedom we have. Under President Obama and the Democratic Congress, the United States is heading in the wrong direction. The big spenders are on a joy ride, and we're stuck in the back seat on the road to dramatically less freedom.
The main battleground of the war between freedom and government is the marketplace. Markets work for a simple reason: They give people choice. Consumers know what they want, and businesses try to figure out how to produce and deliver the goods and services the best way, considering price, quality and service. Only the best firms survive.
Today is the first anniversary of the start of Mr. Obama's term in the Oval Office. For the past year, Americans have been told that government is smarter than private industry and that more government intervention is needed to fix problems in the market. Central to this agenda is the canard that private for-profit companies have to charge higher prices than nonprofits to recoup enough to earn profits, thus making for-profit firms less competitive. This explanation is wrongheaded because it ignores that profits give an incentive to lower costs and improve quality. The greater the incentive to reduce costs, the less waste there is. That is why, despite all the tax advantages given to nonprofits, the economy is dominated by for-profit firms.
Politicians and bureaucrats in Washington don't know what individual consumers want and certainly shouldn't be the ones to decide what individuals need. If the government decides everything, elections will determine what businesses can produce and what options consumers will have. In a healthy market system, consumers wouldn't have to persuade their neighbors to use the ballot box to determine what type of toys, computers, books, houses or cars they can buy. Those products will be produced as long as the value consumers get is greater than the costs of producing them. The government should stay out of the way of these inherently private everyday decisions.
A common justification for government intervention is based on the notion that individuals and firms don't bear the full costs and benefits of their actions and that taxes and regulations are needed to correct the imbalance. The debate over global warming is an example of this idea. Climate-change activists argue that markets don't take into account damage purportedly caused by carbon dioxide. Yet even if they were right that carbon emissions cause global warming (which is unlikely), there are many stumbling blocks that prevent effective government intervention. First, there is the pure numbers-crunching aspect: Government must figure out how much to tax carbon emissions to alter behavior, which is a difficult and error-plagued challenge. Other than taking wealth out of private hands, all the negative impact of higher taxation is rarely clear, and it's a fair question whether the outcome is likely to cause more damage than the original problem.
Second, politics is a dirty business. Special interests twist programs into dole-outs for favored groups. Political machinations are behind every dollar of federal spending, and the interest of the taxpayer usually doesn't have a seat at the table when the spoils are divvied up. Consider all the special favors to unions and particular constituencies in everything from last year's $787 billion stimulus package to the Democrats' government health care bills. So much of federal spending amounts to nothing more than a big slush fund.
Regulations are the second edge on the knife government uses to cut the heart out of private initiative. Bureaucratic red tape ties up markets with little consideration about its impact. Take the health care debate. Amidst government's attempt to take over health care, politicians are telling American families that the suits in Washington know how to run health care at a lower cost and with better quality than what is currently being produced. If that were true, government wouldn't need to pass a regulation. If Democratic ideas had any merit, companies would pay Mr. Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for advice to help provide customers a better product at a lower price. Democrats wouldn't have to scheme behind closed doors to figure out how to ram through legislation to force Americans to accept a system they don't want.
This gets to the heart of the matter. Markets are fundamentally different from government programs in that market transactions are voluntary. Government's main tool is coercion. Consumers don't buy a product unless they think it makes them better off. Firms don't sell a product unless they think they can make profits. Telling people what to do doesn't make them want to do it or like doing it. There's no question which way works best. Countries with the most market-based economies have enjoyed the largest growth in wealth. The innovations generated in these places benefit the entire world. Messing with the market-based model slows the pace of progress for our children and grandchildren.
The massive ``tea party'' protests all across the land reveal how outraged Americans are by the direction of government. President Obama and Democrats in Congress are making government bigger than ever because they think bureaucracies make smarter decisions than individuals and the government is better than private business. But taxpayers aren't hitting the streets for so-called smarter or better government--they want less government. A lot less. A new Congress will be seated a year from now. Hopefully that will bring real change to the nation's capital.
The Senate bill that the House is about to pass this week under a very, very, shaky rule is going to let people vote on the rule and then say the bill is passed. It has major problems with it. It is not addressing the cost of insurance and health care. It has a tax on hiring low-income workers. It funds abortions. It has the Cornhusker kickback, the Louisiana purchase, the Gatorade. It has a new Federal mandate to buy insurance. There is a penalty enforced by the IRS that is going to require an additional 40,000 IRS agents if we don't buy insurance. And there will be a job-killing 8 percent tax on employers who don't offer government-approved health insurance. This is wrong, Mr. Speaker.
The people in my district want jobs. They want to be able to work. And they want to see our country continue to operate the way it always has, under the rule of law, not with the majority abusing the rules. They want us to do the right kind of thing here.
What do Republicans support? We want legislation that will reduce the cost of health care. We want to force insurance companies to compete with each other across State lines and let people buy insurance across State lines if they choose. We want to cover preexisting conditions. We want medical liability reform, which would save tens of billions of dollars each year. And we want to expand health savings accounts, which put Americans in charge of their health care and their health dollars. We can do that, Mr. Speaker.
We passed a bill the other day in a bipartisan fashion, a 1 1/2 page bill taking away the antitrust exemption for insurance companies. Folks on the other side said we couldn't do it, but we can.
Mr. Speaker, I yield back.