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Public Statements

FAA Air Transportation Modernization And Safety Improvement Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. McCONNELL. Would the Senator from Tennessee yield for a question?

Mr. ALEXANDER. Of course.

Mr. McCONNELL. I was not here for the beginning of the discussion between the Senator from New Hampshire and the Senator from Tennessee, but I recently had an opportunity to speak to the National State Legislators convention, which happened to have been in my hometown of Louisville. Speaker Pelosi was there as well. My staff, in doing research and putting together my remarks, discovered that currently the single biggest source of revenue for State governments is to borrow money that is coming down from Washington. They are getting more from us than their sales taxes, their income taxes, and their property taxes. The States are simply becoming completely dependent upon us.

As I have heard both of my colleagues point out, we are sending this borrowed money down essentially so they do not have to make the tough decisions they would otherwise have to make. So I would ask my friends: When does it end? When does this dependency come to an end? I thought last year it was supposed to be timely, temporary, and targeted.

Mr. GREGG. The Senator's point is very important because 41 cents of every dollar we are sending back to the States--and as the Senator says, the majority of State money is now Federal money that we are sending down, as the Senator outlined--is borrowed from China or from the Middle East. Our people are going to have to pay all this back. We don't have that money to be sending to the States.

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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I thank my friends from Tennessee and New Hampshire. I was going to make some opening comments, but I would also add that my opening comments are somewhat related to the colloquy my colleagues were just having about the bill we will be voting on shortly.

We also heard an expression from the voters of Missouri yesterday who voted on a referendum on the issue of whether it is a good idea for the Federal Government to require individuals to retain health insurance, and 70 percent in Missouri, just yesterday, expressed their opposition to the notion. I know that is in court being litigated right now, as to whether it is appropriate for the Federal Government or constitutional for the Federal Government to require everyone to have a government-prescribed health care policy, but we had an expression of the people from Missouri yesterday as well on that aspect of what the Federal Government has been doing in the last year and a half. I thank my colleagues for their enlightened comments.

As I was just indicating, this morning's paper carried an important message for us in Washington--a message that many of us have been trying to get across for more than a year. If there was any doubt that Americans are tired of being told their views are irrelevant by the people they elected to represent them in Washington, last night's vote in Missouri should dispel it.

All throughout the health care debate, Democratic leaders in Washington told themselves they could do what they wanted and then persuade Americans after the fact that it was OK. Last night, the voters in Missouri overwhelmingly rejected that notion. The people of Missouri have sent a message to Washington: Enough is enough.

They rejected the apparent belief by the current administration and Democratic leaders in Congress that they know best--that distant bureaucrats and lawmakers inside the beltway have a better grasp of what ails people in places such as St. Louis than they do, and that lawmakers here have a right to impose their prescriptions on the people out there whether those people like it or not.

More specifically, the voters of Missouri sent a clear message that the Federal Government has no business forcing people to buy health insurance against their will. I applaud them for it. Throughout the health care debate, Republicans heard the concerns of our constituents and insisted on the kind of commonsense solutions they were asking for--solutions that would actually do something to lower the cost of care. Democrats preferred to do their own thing.

They said: Let's raise taxes and cut Medicare to expand government and then try to convince people it is in their best interest.

Well, the voters of Missouri showed us last night that Americans will not allow this blatant power grab to stand without a fight. They don't think bureaucrats in Washington have a right to force them to buy government-designed health insurance, and they don't think States should be forced to put millions of new people into Medicaid--as our colleagues from New Hampshire and Tennessee were just discussing--any more than they think we should bail out the States again this week with billions more in spending at a time when neither we nor the States can afford it.

Washington needs to take care of its own fiscal mess, not deepen it by bailing out the States. We need to start listening to the concerns of the American people rather than trying to force them to go along with far-reaching laws they do not want, either through unpopular legislation or misleading PR campaigns like the one we saw earlier this week in which the administration sought to convince seniors their health care plan wouldn't do what we all know it will do.

Americans weren't kidding when they said they opposed the health care bill, and they are not going away. This is just the beginning. Some of us have been saying it for more than a year. The American people will be heard. Whether it is the failed stimulus, the health care bill, or the financial regulatory bill, Americans are more intent than ever on reversing the trend of centralizing more and more power in Washington. They are alarmed at the fact the Federal Government is now, for the first time in our history, the single largest source of revenue for the States. For the first time in our history, the Federal Government is the single largest source of revenue for the States. They know that with more power in Washington comes less accountability, and they are fighting back.

The lesson is clear: Americans expect the people they elect to put their interests and the interests of the country first. It is time to follow through on the kinds of changes Americans actually want to see. It is about solving the crisis in front of us instead of using them to force a vision of America that Americans don't share.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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