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Mr. BARRASSO. Madam President, never in my life would I expect to see the U.S. Department of Agriculture come out against farming, ranching, agriculture, and its products.
I was talking to a radio station this morning in Afton, WY. They were astonished. They had not heard the news of this yet, and they are now fully aware of it. They are grateful to the Senator from Kansas because one of those involved actually had heard the Senator on the floor last night talking about Meatless Mondays and then the USDA linking ranching and farming to climate change. It is not just cattle or beef producers--and beef is clearly the No. 1 cash crop for Wyoming--but the USDA has gone after dairy products, such as milk and cheese, as part of a climate change issue.
So this does seem to be an assault against a way of life, a significant part of our country's heritage, as well as our economic future. We see this assault on our products through the Department of Agriculture. We see it as an assault on family values of young families working together, as we have seen with the Department of Labor. And now yesterday, with a vote on this Senate floor, there was an attack by a reinstitution of the death tax. People are trying to keep a family operation within the family, a ranch or a farm, all across rural America. These small businesses in communities all across the country are finding that it is going to be much more difficult, under what the Democrats voted for yesterday, to keep their ranches and farms in the family.
I know farmers and ranchers in Wyoming where a member of the family works in town just to make the money to pay the expenses of keeping the operation of the farm or the ranch going. They know full well that under the Democratic proposal, if someone were to die, once that becomes the case, their chances of being able to hold on to that operation are reduced to almost nothing. Bringing back the costs of the death tax to the levels of the Clinton administration, anything over $1 million in assessed value would be taxed at 55 percent. The only solution for many is to sell.
There are three specific attacks: the death tax attack, the Meatless Monday attack, and the attack on children helping out on the family or neighbor farm or ranch. There are values that they learn through the FFA. All of those things make me wonder in what direction the country is heading. I guess that is no surprise when only one in three Americans all across the country think the country is heading in the right direction.
I am happy to join my colleague from Kansas who came to the Senate floor yesterday to bring this to the attention of the Senate. He and I are working together to now address the Secretary of Agriculture to make sure that something like this doesn't happen again and to make sure that the Secretary does insist that farmers and ranchers across this country--and the products that they make and should be promoted by the Department of Agriculture--receive the proper honor that is deserved by them for what they do to continue to put food on the table and continue to bring forth the values from those who built this great country.
I thank my friend and colleague, the Senator from Kansas, for bringing this to the attention of the Nation.
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Mr. BARRASSO. Madam President, I come to the floor today, as I do week after week since the health care law was passed, to give a doctor's second opinion about the health care law that I believe is bad for patients, bad for the providers, the nurses and the doctors who take care of those patients, and terrible for the American taxpayers.
I come to the floor today reminding myself and the Senate of some promises the President made during the health care debate. The President had a couple of key promises. The first was he stated that health insurance premiums would go down. The second promise he made was that if a person likes their insurance plan, they can keep it.
The President actually reiterated the second point after the Supreme Court issued its decision regarding the health care law a few weeks ago. From the East Room of the White House, the President proclaimed:
If you're one of the 250 million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance.
Perhaps the President does not know that his health care law has already forced many colleges and universities to stop offering their student health plans or perhaps the President is unaware that one can no longer purchase a child-only health insurance policy in many States, including my home State of Wyoming.
Apparently, the President has not spoken to businesses across the country that must actually deal with the ramifications of his health care law. I speak with business owners around Wyoming every weekend as I travel around the State, and the people with whom I speak believe the law will increase the cost of their insurance, increase the cost of their care, and make it more difficult for them to provide insurance for their employees.
Now we have a new study--a report that has come out from the Deloitte consulting firm--and it has spoken to businesses all across the country about the law. The results were compiled in their 2012 survey of employers. In this report, the company did random surveys of 560 companies with 50 or more employees. These results are only from companies that currently offer health insurance to their employees.
So what are the results? Well, the results are not encouraging. They found that approximately 1 in 10 employers is considering dropping the health coverage they currently supply to their employees over the next few years. Specifically, they found that 9 percent of companies expect to drop their insurance coverage, while another 10 percent of respondents said they weren't sure about how they would proceed. The survey revealed that small businesses--those with between 50 and 100 workers--are going to be hit especially hard by this new health care law.
Thirteen percent of the businesses in this category stated they would drop their insurance coverage in the next 1 to 3 years. Thirteen percent of all of those small businesses with between 50 and 100 employees plan to drop their insurance within 1 to 3 years.
Keep in mind that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office did some evaluations and thought that only 7 percent of workers would lose their employer-provided health insurance starting in 2014 because the President, looking straight into the camera straight from the White House, said, ``If you like what you have, you can keep it.''
Companies also made it clear that how implementation of the health care law moves forward would impact their decisions. How so? Here is an example: Approximately one-third of the companies stated they might decide to stop offering health insurance if they find that the law passed by the Democrats in this Senate, along partisan lines--if these companies find that the health insurance under the law and required by the law requires them to offer more generous benefits than they currently provide, they are likely--one-third--to discontinue providing health insurance.
Why is that? Well, it is because the President's health care law actually mandates what kind of insurance companies must give to their employees. This is what is called the essential health benefits package or, as most Americans refer to it, government-approved insurance. It may not be the insurance you want or the insurance you like; it may not be the insurance you need or it may not be the insurance you can afford. No matter how we look at it, the President and those who supported this law say they know better than American consumers, American workers, and people in need of insurance.
So instead of allowing businesses and workers to decide what kind of insurance they need, the health care law empowers Federal bureaucrats to make this decision.
In an article that recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the chief financial officer of McDonald's stated that he thought implementing the health care law could cost his company more than $400 million a year. So businesses that decide they can't afford to offer this government-approved insurance are going to be forced to pay a penalty.
How big is the penalty? That is a legitimate question. The Supreme Court says it is a tax--a tax. So they are going to have to pay a tax. So for companies with over 50 employees, they will have to pay, starting at $2,000 per worker. That sounds like a lot of money, but keep this in mind: In 2011 the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the average cost of employer-provided health insurance for families was over $15,000. So they can decide: Do they pay the government $2,000, that tax, or do they pay $15,000 for the insurance? This means many companies would have a sizable financial incentive to simply drop the insurance.
So then what happens? What happens to these folks who previously had the insurance the President said they could keep? Of course, we all know they can't because, once again, the President misled the American people--I believe intentionally. Well, then these employees who were dropped would have to enroll in a government-run exchange. So what happens in the exchange? Well, many of these individuals would qualify for subsidies from the Federal Government to help them purchase insurance--subsidies from the Federal Government to help them pay for insurance that they were previously getting at work, but now because of the health care law they can't get it anymore.
So who is going to end up subsidizing this? The American taxpayers are now going to be paying for the health insurance instead of the employer. This is not only going to cause many Americans to lose their health insurance, but it will also make the $1 trillion health care law even more expensive than the Congressional Budget Office said this past week.
Many businesses surveyed stated they do not intend on dumping the health insurance plans, but they said something else. They said they are not going to stop providing it. Instead, employers are saying to workers: If you want to keep this, you are going to have to pick up the additional cost of your insurance coverage, and you are going to have to do it by helping to pay higher copays, higher deductibles, or participating and contributing to the higher premiums we are going to have to pay.
So for those Americans lucky enough to keep their employer-provided coverage, they will now be paying more money for that privilege. This means employees have essentially two alternatives under this health care law. Either they will lose their employer-provided coverage or they will be facing higher insurance premiums.
For over 150 million Americans who receive their insurance through their employer, neither of these choices is a good one. It didn't have to be this way. That is why I remain committed to repealing the President's health care law and replacing it with patient-centered reforms that will allow patients to get the care they need from a doctor they choose at lower cost.
Thank you, Madam President. I yield the floor.
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