BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, here we are the day after some elections in various States around the country. I think everybody will draw their own conclusion as a result of those elections, but it is hard to dispute the assertion that the so-called tea party candidates did rather well in the elections around the country.
Those people who believe the disconnect between themselves and their neighbors and their fellow citizens and what we do here in our Nation's capital is clearly disconnected. The anger and dissatisfaction continues to be displayed in poll after poll and election after election. And why are they so upset?
Well, our national debt has just surpassed $13 trillion for the first time. We now, this morning, in a prediction, have predictions that it will surpass $19 trillion in 5 years.
In the first 206 years of this Nation's existence, we were able to accumulate a national debt of $1 trillion. Now it is going to take us 5 years to add $4 more trillion, up to $19 trillion. So what is the response now by the administration and my colleagues across the aisle? Another bill that addresses $10, $20, $30, $40, $50, $100 billion additional to the debt and, of course, not paid for. And here we are, after spending a good part of a $787 billion stimulus package, where we were promised and assured that if we passed that the maximum unemployment in the United States would be 8 percent. As we all know, it is now at 9.7 percent, with the latest job information with a paltry 41,000 new jobs, and 400,000 temporary government Census jobs.
So is it surprising to anyone that there is great anger and dissatisfaction throughout the country? We seem to be not just tone deaf but deaf, which brings me to the issue of the so-called health care reform.
CBO recently came forward and said, the real cost of the reform in its new authorization is over $1 trillion, something we were assured at the time, in the year-long debate, that it would not be over $1 trillion. It will cost over $2.6 trillion over its first 10 years of full implementation.
I guess there was the assumption that either the American people would forget the debate that was held here in the Congress or would forget these promises were made about the benefits of health care reform, but they were wrong. Recent polls show that about 60 percent of the American people still oppose the legislation that was passed through the Congress and signed by the President, to great fanfare.
In the immortal words of the Speaker of the House, who said, ``We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it,'' the American people are finding out what is in it, including medical device makers who assert that the new tax on them will cost jobs because of a 2.3-percent excise tax on companies that supply medical devices such as heart defibrillators and surgical tools to hospitals. It will cost an estimated $20 billion. The list of taxes goes on and on.
The response of those on the other side of the aisle is to launch a $125 million health campaign. They will spend an estimated $25 million a year over 5 years so that, quoting from a Politico story:
The extraordinary campaign, which could provide an unprecedented amount of cover for a White House in a policy debate, reflects urgency among Democrats to explain, defend and depoliticize health care reform now that people are beginning to feel the new law's effects.
To do its bit, the Medicare people have decided to spend--because we have lots of money; there are no worries--$18 million--chicken feed--in Medicare funds to send a mailer to Medicare beneficiaries. The flier is entitled ``Medicare and the New Health Care Law, What it Means for You.'' It was sent to 43 million Medicare beneficiaries under the guise of explaining how the new law will impact them. However, the brochure goes into great detail about provisions of the law that do not even apply to seniors and leaves out any mention of the cuts they will face. For example, 330,000 of my fellow citizens in Arizona are enjoying a program called Medicare Advantage. Medicare Advantage does what the government doesn't want our Medicare recipients to do, and that is to give people choices on dental care, eyeglasses, other decisions they would make. Of course, those people will see the Medicare Advantage program, which is very popular, dismantled under this law.
The flier and the President point out that over $500 billion in Medicare cuts could jeopardize seniors' health care, forcing millions to pay more. The cuts, according to the Obama administration's own Medicare actuaries, will lead to 7.4 million Medicare beneficiaries losing their health plan because of the $206 billion in cuts to Medicare Advantage. The CBO estimates that Medicare prescription drug coverage premiums will increase by 9 percent as a result of that law.
I look forward to continuing this debate with the President and my friends. He took time out from his musical evenings to have a health care townhall yesterday to talk about this great benefit to the American people that his legislation has brought. Unfortunately, seniors and the American people are not fooled.
I quote from a Wall Street Journal article of May 28, 2010:
In the full-circle department, recall the moment last September when Senator Max Baucus and Medicare went after the insurer Humana for having the nerve to criticize one part of ObamaCare. It turns out those same regulators have different standards for their own political advocacy.
This week Medicare sent a flyer to seniors, ostensibly to inform them of what ObamaCare ``means for you.'' Many elderly Americans are worried--and rightly so--about where they'll rank in national health care, given that the new entitlement is funded by nearly a half-trillion dollars in Medicare cuts. They must have been relieved to hear that ``The Affordable Care Act passed by Congress and signed by President Obama this year will provide you and your family greater savings and increased quality health care.''
That's the first sentence of the four-page mailer, and it gives a flavor of the Administration's respect for the public's intelligence. It goes on to mention ``improvements to Medicare Advantage,'' the program that Democrats hate because it gives nearly one out of four seniors private health insurance options. ``If you are in a Medicare Advantage plan, you will still receive guaranteed Medicare benefits.''
But that's not what Medicare's own actuary thinks. In an April memo, Richard Foster estimated that the $206 billion hole in Advantage will reduce benefits, cause insurers to withdraw from the program and reduce overall enrollment by half. Doug Elmendorf and his team at the Congressional Budget Office came to the same conclusion, as did every other honest expert.
I don't know if my colleagues will recall, but the first amendment we had proposed from this side when the bill came to the floor was to prohibit cuts in Medicare. Now we are seeing that there will be a $206 billion hole in Medicare Advantage that will reduce benefits and cause insurers to withdraw from the program and reduce overall enrollment by half, just as we predicted on the floor of the Senate.
I look forward to coming back to the floor with my friend from Tennessee and others as we continue this debate. Perhaps we should have been discussing it more all along. I can assure my colleagues, from the many townhall meetings I am having all over the State of Arizona, the people of Arizona, especially those in programs such as Medicare Advantage and others, are deeply concerned and deeply skeptical.
Our proposal still remains valid. Starting next January, we will make every effort to repeal and replace because we cannot lay this burden on future generations of Americans.
I yield the floor.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT