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Public Statements

Misplaced Priorities of the Tea Party Republicans

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. Mr. Speaker, let me begin by joining my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in praising President Obama and our military and our intelligence teams for their extraordinary work in the culmination of the killing of Osama bin Laden. His death is a very positive step for U.S. counterterrorism efforts. Bin Laden's death will not erase the pain he caused by his evil acts, nor does it mean that Americans are not still the targets of others bent on doing us harm, but hopefully his elimination will offer some comfort to the grieving families all over the world who have suffered at his hand and will diminish the capacity of his network to do us harm.

Mr. Speaker, while Americans are expressing their appreciation over the death of bin Laden, they remain deeply anxious about our economy. They are suffering from high unemployment and high gas prices and they expect and need relief. That is why Americans must be really scratching their heads in disbelief over the choices being made here in the House of Representatives.

While Americans remain focused on jobs and the economy, the tea party Republican majority has voted to end Medicare and to cut taxes for the richest Americans and the largest oil companies. And this week they will vote to make it harder for students and low-income workers across the country to have access to health care by bringing up two bills to end the funding for new school-based health care centers and for State-based exchanges where workers and small business employees who cannot get insurance through their jobs will be able to look for health care benefits.

Mr. Speaker, they are also bringing up a third bill, a sweeping measure that would, in effect, make abortion inaccessible to most women, despite the fact that the Supreme Court has ruled that women in the United States of America have a constitutional right to receive an abortion if they so choose.

With sky-high gas prices and continued high unemployment, the Republicans must wake up in the morning and think the most important thing to do today is to take away health care from kids and hardworking Americans and trample on women's rights.

Really? Time out, America. Time out.

This Congress, under the control of the tea party, is making the wrong choices for our economy and for our future. They have accomplished nothing for the American people in more than 3 months that they have been in charge. No bill to help create jobs. Not one. Instead, what have they done? They voted to end Medicare. That is right. They voted to end Medicare and shift the cost of health care of current and future seniors onto seniors themselves, in some cases adding nearly $7,000 more in costs per senior starting in the year 2022. They voted to reduce nursing home care for seniors and for the disabled. And they voted to make prescription drugs for senior citizens more expensive.

To make it all worse, at the same time they voted to end Medicare, they voted to cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires and give tax breaks to the largest oil companies and to extend tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas and in fact pay no taxes to the American people, no sense of patriotism for the benefit these companies receive by being American corporations. They chose to give them additional tax breaks, even though they pay no taxes under current law.

Their choices are clear--dangerously clear. End Medicare and make seniors pay more for health care, but give giant oil companies and the wealthiest in our country more tax breaks.

One of the bills that they will bring up this week will eliminate the ability of Americans without insurance, including small business employees, to shop and to compare health plans in the State-based exchanges. They have determined to pursue policies to harm working families in order to cater to their insurance industry friends and radical right-wing supporters. They don't believe that every American should have access to affordable health coverage.

Health exchanges are one of the most popular and important provisions of the health care law. They are vital for families and small businesses to be able to have access to affordable health care. These exchanges are market based, they foster competition, they reduce costs, and they provide access to health insurance for millions of Americans.

Yes, Mr. Speaker, Americans must scratch their heads every day and wonder why the priorities of the tea party Republicans are not consistent with the needs of their families, their children, their job opportunities, their small businesses' vitality. They must wonder every day: Why can't this Congress start serving the American public?

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