Imposing a Minimum Effective Tax Rate for High-Income Taxpayers - Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

By:  Lindsey Graham
Date: March 28, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. GRAHAM. I will be glad to discuss that. I have enjoyed the opportunity to create legislation that would allow States to opt out of Medicaid's expansion under this bill. About 30 percent of the people in South Carolina will be eligible for Medicaid by 2014 when this law is fully implemented. It is the second largest expense in South Carolina. With the matching requirement, we get three Federal dollars for every State dollar you put on the table dealing with Medicaid. That sounds like a good deal until Medicaid explodes in costs and becomes the No. 1 driver of the budget in South Carolina, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Arizona. Under this bill, the problem we have today with Medicaid becomes Medicaid on steroids.

I am confident that there are plenty of Democrats who have Governors who are Democrats who will say: Wait a minute, before you expand Medicaid and put additional burden on my State's budget, see if we can find more creative ways of dealing with it and give people the ability to opt out of that. That would be good policy.

I want to comment about this. One rule of thumb is that any bill passed on Christmas Eve on a party-line vote is probably no good to the country. And that is what happened.

As Senator McCain would say, this was a party-line vote, 60 to 40, on something dealing with one-sixth of the economy.

This was supposed to happen on C SPAN. President Obama said: I am coming and we are going to change the way Washington works.

If I had to offer exhibit A of what is wrong with Washington, it would be the ObamaCare process. Everything that people hate about Washington resulted in this bill being passed. There was absolutely no bipartisanship; there were behind-closed-door negotiations, beating people over the head to get their support; there was buying votes based on special interest deals for their States. That is not exactly what the American people had in mind. Is it any surprise that something that came out of that process is going over like a lead balloon?

One of the problems with health care is getting doctors to take Medicare and Medicaid patients. What did we do with Medicare? We took $500 billion out of a system that is $33 trillion underfunded to help the uninsured. We have an uninsured problem, but we have a Medicare problem that will be an absolute nightmare.

What I wanted to do on malpractice is to tell a doctor: If you will take a Medicare or Medicaid patient, doing the country a service, and you get sued, we will go to arbitration--require arbitration--and let the panel render their judgment. And if you want to go to court, you can.

That is fair. I want people to have their chance to litigate differences on alleged malpractice. I also want doctors to feel there is an incentive to serve Medicare and Medicaid patients.

What was promised in this bill--the remedies to our health care system--none of them have come true. What you see 2 years later are our worst fears being realized at a faster pace.

The President promised: If you like your health care, you will be able to keep it.

What is going on in this country is that employers are dropping health care for their employees because it is cheaper to pay the fine. What is happening in this country is that the idea of being able to expand Medicaid without bankrupting the budgets of this country at the State level, when you look at the consequences, is a nightmare in the making.

We were promised this bill would reduce the deficit. Well, to me, health care includes doctors, and in the bill itself we never dealt with the problem that doctors face of having their budgets, their reimbursements cut. That was not even addressed in ObamaCare. That is a couple hundred billion dollar liability. So the idea this thing has been paid for, as promised, no longer exists. It is adding to the deficit. It was projected to be $900 billion in cost; now it is about $1.7 trillion. So the basic promises around what this bill would do for our budget, what it would do for our choices in health care, have not come true.

I am here to say to our Democratic friends, fix this before it is too late. You will find people on our side willing to meet you in the middle when it comes to reforming health care because it needs to be reformed. But the model you have created--centralized health care--that is going to damage State budgets beyond belief, that will drive private sector insurance out of the market, and it is going to have a budget consequence on top of what we already have is not the right model.

I say to my colleagues here today, I will work with you to do two things: Educate the public about what awaits us if we don't change this bill quickly, and work with our Democratic friends to find a better alternative. I think that is what America wants. When 67 percent of the people, 2 years later, feel this is not the way to go, responsible leadership would say let's alter course.

The Supreme Court may strike down the mandate. They may say Medicaid expansion is a violation of the tenth amendment. I hope they do. But I can say one thing with certainty: Because nine judges, five of whom say it is legal to do something, doesn't make it smart to do something. What is smart is to fix health care in a sustainable way. And what is smart is for Republicans and Democrats to work together in a transparent, open fashion. We haven't done anything smart about health care yet, and I hope that changes.

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