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Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Unknown

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. CRUZ. Madam President, I rise to deliver my first official speech on the floor of the Senate on an issue which I believe is the most urgent issue facing the country; namely, the dire need to restore economic growth to our Nation.

I will note at the outset this is the second opportunity I have had to speak on the Senate floor. The first was last week during the historic filibuster led by the junior Senator from Kentucky for nearly 13 hours.

I will note a particular debt of gratitude I owe to Senator Paul. The very first time I spoke on this floor was in a colloquy with Senator Paul. I had the opportunity to read Travis's letter from the Alamo, to read Shakespeare's ``St. Crispin's Day Speech,'' to read the opening monolog from ``Patton,'' and to read Ronald Reagan's 1964 speech, ``A Time to Choose.'' This is a debt I will always owe Senator Paul. As they say in the beer commercial: ``It don't get no better than that.''

Sadly, I promise my colleagues in the rest of my tenure, I am confident we will not have an opportunity to rival those glorious words William Barret Travis penned as he was standing for principle 177 years ago.

This being said, the topic of the day is, in my judgment, a topic of exceptional importance. Every elected Member of Congress, whether Republican or Democratic, should have as their very first priority restoring economic growth in this country. In the last 4 years we have seen stagnant growth. In the last 4 years our economy has averaged 0.8 percent growth each year. To put that in context, this is a fraction of historical levels. Since World War II, our economy has enjoyed 3.3 percent growth per year.

Last quarter the economy was struggling along and grew 0.1 percent. It was effectively stagnant.

If we want to solve the great many fiscal and economic challenges facing this country, growth is the critical precondition. If we want the 23 million people who are struggling to find jobs to get back to work--and I know every one of us wants those 23 million people to get back to work--we must restore economic growth. If we want to turn around the train wreck which is the balance sheet of the Federal Government, our perennial recurring deficits and debts, this can't be done without restoring growth.

In my view we should be working across the aisle in a bipartisan way to focus on bringing growth back. This should be our No. 1 priority. Given that, the purpose of this amendment is to advance economic growth and, in particular, to delay funding of ObamaCare until economic growth returns.

Let me be clear. In my view ObamaCare should be repealed in its entirety, which was the very first bill I introduced in the Senate. At a minimum, in my judgment, ObamaCare should not be funded and implemented at a time when our economy is gasping for breath, at a time when our economy is struggling to such a degree that implementing it right now could well force us into a recession.

It seems to me every Member of this body should stand together in acting decisively to prevent this economy from being pushed into a recession. Implementing ObamaCare at a time when the economy is so weak could do just that. ObamaCare hurts the economy. It hurts jobs. It hurts young people. It hurts Hispanics. It hurts African Americans. It hurts single moms. It hurts everybody struggling to climb the economic ladder.

I would like to initially talk about four promises which were made when ObamaCare was passed and the reality we have seen as it has begun to be implemented. It is ironic the law is called the Affordable Care Act. In the 3 years it has begun to be implemented, it has proven to be neither affordable nor caring.

No. 1, before ObamaCare was adopted, President Obama promised the American people ObamaCare would reduce the cost of insurance. In particular, the President said American families would pay $2,500 less for their insurance premiums by the end of his first term. I would note his first term ended not long ago. Today, American families are not paying $2,500 less in health insurance premiums. They are not paying a penny less. Indeed, today American families are paying $3,000 more in health insurance premiums than they were. That is a $5,500 swing out of the pockets of hard-working Americans who are struggling make ends meet. The reality has not lived up to the promise.

The management consulting firm Oliver Wyman issued a new study recently which predicted people aged 21 to 29 could see a 42-percent hike in premium costs. The higher premiums in particular are hitting young people. Indeed, I would point out, if you are a young person, this law going into effect right now when the economy is struggling is particularly problematic. If you are a young person coming out of school today, you are facing: No. 1, fewer jobs. If you didn't graduate from high school, you are facing an unemployment rate today of over 12 percent. You have less opportunity. If you are between 16 to 19, you are facing an unemployment rate of over 25 percent.

If you are a minority, if you are Hispanic, you are facing an unemployment rate of nearly 10 percent. If you are African American, you are facing an unemployment rate of over 14 percent.

What are you seeing actually in the job market if you are lucky enough to get a job? More and more employers are dropping health care coverage because of the burdens of ObamaCare. More and more employers are forcing employees to work fewer hours because of the burdens of ObamaCare. More and more individuals are seeing their premiums climb, especially young people.

If you are a young person coming out of school today, you may not find a job.

It is harder to find a job because of economic growth right now. If you do find a job, there is a real possibility that job will not have health insurance and you will find your hours reduced. If you do have health insurance, you will pay higher premiums. The promises have not lived up to the reality.

The second differential between promise and reality is President Obama repeatedly told Americans, ``If you like your health plan, you can keep it.'' This unfortunately has not proven to be the case.

The latest forecast from the Congressional Budget Office estimates some 7 million people are expected to lose or be dropped from their employer-provided health insurance by the year 2020. Indeed, health insurers in 34 States have stopped carrying child-only insurance policies. In my home State of Texas, one of the largest insurance markets in the country, every single carrier has dropped its child-only health insurance coverage. The same is true for other large States such as Florida and Illinois. The promise, if you like your health care coverage, you will be able to keep it, has not lived up to reality, as more and more Americans are losing their health insurance.

No. 3, President Obama pledged repeatedly not to raise taxes on families making less than $250,000 a year. That promise has not materialized. Within ObamaCare, there is a tax on those who do not maintain government-approved health insurance. There are increases on the threshold of the deduction for unreimbursed medical expenses. There is an increase in taxes on distributions from Health Savings Accounts and from flexible spending arrangements. Indeed, in total, over $1 trillion in tax increases are contained within ObamaCare. The promise has not lived up to the reality.

The fourth promise which has not lived up to the reality is in February of 2010, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said ObamaCare would create 4 million jobs, 400,000 jobs almost immediately.

This was in 2010. By 2011, the CBO Budget Director testified before a House Budget Committee that ObamaCare would result in an estimated 800,000 fewer jobs in the United States by 2021. The promises have not lived up to reality.

I wish to talk about five distinct harms which have come from ObamaCare and made life more difficult for Americans.

No. 1, ObamaCare harms the poor and those who are struggling to climb the economic ladder. Right now, 60 million people are enrolled in Medicaid. Medicaid is a program which is struggling, which is challenged and desperately in need of reform to improve how it operates. ObamaCare, by raising the eligibility age and trying to incentivize and pressure States into expanding Medicaid, is designed to move at least an additional 18 million people onto Medicaid over the next 10 years.

The data demonstrates Medicaid beneficiaries face worse health outcomes than just about anybody else in the marketplace.

In 2010, the ``Annals of Surgery'' issued a landmark study which examined the outcomes from nearly 900,000 individuals undergoing surgery from 2003 to 2007. The conclusion of this study was Medicaid patients were almost twice as likely to die as those with private insurance. Medicaid patients' hospital stays were 42 percent longer and cost 26 percent more.

Even more striking, Medicaid patients, when compared to people without health insurance, people who were uninsured, Medicaid patients were 13 percent more likely to die. They stayed in the hospital for 50 percent longer and cost 20 percent more.

In 2011, Johns Hopkins did a study of patients undergoing lung transplantation. Their conclusions were very much the same.

They found that Medicaid patients were 8.1 percent less likely to be alive 10 years after the transplant compared with those with private insurance and also compared to those without any insurance at all. Overall, the Johns Hopkins study found that Medicaid patients faced a 29-percent greater risk of death, and yet ObamaCare is moving more and more of the economically disadvantaged onto Medicaid, which subjects them to those worse health care outcomes.

No. 2, ObamaCare hurts seniors. ObamaCare took $716 billion from Medicare, a large portion of which came from the Medicare Advantage Program which serves a great many seniors, and especially poor seniors. According to the Office of the Actuary at the Center for Medicaid and Medicaid Services, the Medicare Advantage cuts in ObamaCare will reduce enrollment from 14.8 million to 7.4 million by 2017. It will cut it in half. Seven million people will lose their coverage under Medicare Advantage.

I would remind everyone that the President said, ``If you like your health insurance, you can keep it.'' Yet 7 million seniors are losing Medicare Advantage.

The Heritage Foundation found the substantial cuts to Medicare Advantage in particular hurt seniors in the States of Texas, California, New Mexico, Louisiana, Alaska, New York, Massachusetts, and also in the District of Columbia. Those States are expected to lose more than 50 percent of their enrollees by 2017.

I would suggest that each of us, as we return to our constituents, as we return to address seniors, any in this body who vote today to implement ObamaCare despite the difficult economic times, should be prepared to answer to seniors in our States who say: Why did you vote to damage the Medicare Advantage Program that I was relying upon?

Also, the harm to Medicare Advantage in particular is visited upon minorities. Hispanics are twice as likely to enroll in Medicare Advantage than the average Medicare beneficiary. African Americans are 10 percent more likely. So ObamaCare targets a program that is helping seniors and in particular is helping those seniors who are most vulnerable. In addition, 31 percent of African-American Medicare beneficiaries and 38 percent of Hispanic beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans.

So those of us who return to our States that have substantial minority populations need to be prepared to explain to Hispanic seniors and African-American seniors why this body, why the Federal Government is damaging a program they are relying upon for essential health care.

No. 3, ObamaCare is harming jobs. In March 2013, the Federal Reserve said, in its annual ``beige book''--which analyzes economic data from across the country--that ``employers in several Districts cited the unknown effects of the Affordable Care Act as reasons for planned layoffs and reluctance to hire more staff.''

Added health care costs are making it harder for businesses to hire new workers and especially low-skilled workers. This is a point that is worth underscoring because the detrimental effects of ObamaCare are not uniformly distributed throughout our population. They fall the hardest on those who are most vulnerable among us. The Heritage Foundation found that ``workers who cannot produce at least $20,000 per year'' for a single plan ``or $27,500 per year'' for a family plan ``of value to employers will have serious difficulty finding full-time jobs.''

Madam President, when I read those statistics, those are not simply empty words on a page. Those are data that strike very close to home because 55 years ago that precisely described my father. When my father came as an immigrant from Cuba in 1957, he was 18, he was penniless, and he could not speak English. The very first job my father received in Austin, TX, was washing dishes making 50 cents an hour.

The reason--he told me--he got that job was, he said: Look, I couldn't speak English. I couldn't interact with people as most jobs required, but I could wash dishes. So he worked 7 days a week. The reason he worked 7 days a week is because when you washed dishes, they allowed the employees to eat, and he didn't have the money to buy food. So by working 7 days a week, he ensured he ate 7 days a week.

So when I read statistics like this and the words, ``those who cannot produce $20,000 per year in value to an employer will find themselves unable to find jobs,'' I can't help but think about my dad as that 18-year-old kid just beginning to climb the job ladder, not speaking English, not having yet developed skills, but what he could do was wash dishes. And working at 50 cents an hour is what enabled him to pay his way through the University of Texas. It is what enabled him to graduate, to get a higher paying job, and eventually to start a small business. Then, today, to become a pastor.

My father is here today visiting me, and I think about the impact these burdens would have had on him, and I tell you I am grateful that in 1957 this so-called Affordable Care Act had not been implemented because it could well have shut down the opportunity for him to survive and pay his way through school and begin climbing the economic ladder.

Additionally, ObamaCare keeps small businesses small. ObamaCare is designed so that its principal burdens are triggered when a business has 50 employees or more. As a consequence, there is an incredible deterrent to small businesses hiring more than 50 employees because hiring that 50th employee triggers enormous burdens and expenses. That has particular implications for everyone in this economy struggling to find work because two-thirds of all new jobs come from small businesses. By keeping these businesses small, what we are doing is stifling the ability to grow the economy, and in particular to grow the economy by creating opportunities for those who need to begin and want to begin climbing the economic ladder.

By hiring the 50th employee, if a small business does not provide government-approved insurance, it faces a penalty of up to $3,000 for each uncovered worker beyond 30 employees. Thus, as the Wall Street Journal explained:

If a company with 50 employees hires a new worker for $12 an hour for 29 hours a week, there is no health insurance requirement. But suppose that worker moves to 30 hours a week. This triggers a $2,000 Federal penalty. So to get 50 more hours of work a year from that employee, the extra cost to the employer rises to about $52 an hour--the $12 salary and an ObamaCare tax of what works out to be $40 an hour. Moving to 33 hours a week costs the employer about $10 more in ObamaCare tax.

The result is small businesses are staying smaller, and the opportunities for those struggling to achieve the American dream are limited. That leads to the fourth harm:

ObamaCare hurts workers.

One of the consequences we are seeing over and over is that in order to avoid the crushing costs of ObamaCare, employers are limiting the hours employees can work. So, for example, in January, a Wendy's franchise in Nebraska announced it would cut the hours of nonmanagement employees to 28 hours a week. As a result, about 100 employees' hours were cut. That is a direct impact of ObamaCare for those 100 employees who were working at Wendy's.

Now, some may say: Well, is Wendy's a career? So many kids, so many young people, so many Hispanics and African Americans begin, as my father did, washing dishes or flipping burgers, and they use those jobs to gain skills and advance up the economic ladder. To have a law that forces small business owners to reduce those hours, to limit the hours those workers can work, is particularly harmful.

A Taco Bell in Guthrie, OK, has also cut worker hours. A single mother of three told Oklahoma News 9:

They informed everybody that nobody was considered full time any longer, that everybody was now considered part-time, and [they] would be cutting hours back to 28 hours or less due to ObamaCare.

She went on:

Several of the people I work with, some of them are single parents, and we do the best we can, and 28 hours a week just isn't going to cut it for the bills.

For those who are struggling, for the single moms in this country who are working as hard as they can to provide for their kids, seeing their hours reduced because of the consequences of this law is a real and material hardship, and that, sadly, is happening all over the country.

Stephen Caldeira, president of the International Franchise Association, predicts that ``many stores will have to cut worker hours out of necessity.''

Let me point out, by the way, it is not hard-heartedness on the part of those small business owners. It is the simple reality of trying to survive in this economy. As Caldeira continues, it could be the difference between staying in business or going out of business.

Indeed, a 2011 Hudson Institute study estimates that the insurance mandate will cost the franchise industry $6.4 billion and put 3.1 million jobs at risk. That is worth underscoring: 3.1 million jobs at risk of kids flipping burgers, of single moms struggling to provide for their kids who are facing hard times because of ObamaCare. It is those who are most vulnerable who are hit the worst.

Indeed, if we look at the premium increases, in particular for young people, they have been significant. If ObamaCare is fully implemented, they are likely to be extraordinary. According to a 2013 staff report from the Senate Finance Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the ObamaCare impact on young adults in the individual market is expected to be staggering.

If we look at the city of Austin--a city I have lived in for many years, a terrific city, a city whose slogan unofficially is ``Keep Austin Weird.'' It is a young, hip, vibrant----

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Mr. CRUZ. Weird, which in Austin is very fitting. It is a young, hip, vibrant city. It is referred to as the ``Live music capital of the world.'' Right now, a young adult in Austin in the individual health insurance market pays an average premium of $648. Under ObamaCare, that is anticipated to rise to $1,836. That is a 183-percent increase.

I wish to repeat that, to underscore it. Today, they are paying $648. That is expected to rise to $1,836. An additional $1,200 out of the pocket of a young person struggling to survive is substantial. And, indeed, nationally, that is consistent with the pattern that is expected all over the country. That is the average annual increase. It is parallel to what is expected in Chicago, Phoenix, Atlanta, and Milwaukee.

Madam President, I have been informed that the Senator from Utah has a time issue. I ask unanimous consent to yield to the Senator from Utah, and thank him for joining me.

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Mr. CRUZ. The fifth impact of ObamaCare is that it imposes a substantial harm on the economy. On the economy altogether, ObamaCare includes more than 20 tax increases. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that over the next 10 years ObamaCare will raise $1 trillion in taxes. That is $1 trillion from the private sector that is not going to be available to be used to hire new workers.

Job losses just in the medical device industry, as a result of the medical device excise tax, could total as much as 47,100 or 10 percent of the medical device industry employment. Those jobs are needed. Those job losses are not driven by market conditions. Those job losses are driven by one thing, which is the policy decisions of the Federal Government to implement ObamaCare.

On March 5, 2013, Russell George, the inspector general for the IRS, testified in the House Committee on Appropriations:

It is unprecedented in recent history the amount of responsibility the IRS is being given in an area that most people don't think of as an IRS function.

He went on, ``This is going to lead to problems.''

The Congressional Budget Office expects ObamaCare penalties to total $130 billion over the next 10 years. That is up $13 billion from previous forecasts. And more taxpayers will be hit with ObamaCare taxes as time goes on. There is a 0.9-percent tax surcharge on individuals' earned income, and a 3.8-percent surcharge on investment income for individuals making more than $200,000.

But those taxes are not indexed for inflation. And so as inflation raises the nominal income of Americans, it will push more and more from the middle class into paying those taxes. The Tax Policy Center estimates that by 2013, 2.4 percent of households will pay one or both of those taxes; by 2022, 4.6 percent of households will pay; by 2032, 9 percent of households will pay. That is a significant additional tax burden falling on Americans.

In addition, one of the most problematic short-term and long-term implications of ObamaCare is less innovation. The United States has enjoyed tremendous advantages because our free-market system encourages investment in innovation. In health care in particular we have seen incredible innovation--whether in medical devices or whether in pharmaceuticals--because the incentives are there to invest in new health care treatment. As a result, millions have lived better lives, have lived longer lives, have not died from diseases that previously were incurable and previously were untreatable. Because of the innovation we have had in the medical field, it has led to the United States enjoying a world-class health care system. ObamaCare is substantially diminishing innovation in health care.

Venture capital, the seed money that funds new research and development in health care, has dropped precipitously. In 2010, venture capital in health care services was $1.2 billion. By 2011, it had dropped more than in half, to $541 million. According to Dr. Scott Gottlieb of the American Enterprise Institute, only about 30 venture stage health care services companies got funded last year, compared to hundreds from previous years.

If we want to continue the incredible medical innovation we have seen over the last century, we can't be drying up the capital that is devoted to research and development, that is devoted to new and innovative companies. And that is exactly what ObamaCare is doing.

Then there are the compliance costs. The compliance costs from ObamaCare are, quite simply, massive. ObamaCare will require American businesses, families, health care providers to spend more than 127 million hours per year in compliance costs. What could be done with 127 million hours? The problem with big numbers is it is hard to get your mind around them. What does it mean that 127 million hours are being spent on complying with ObamaCare?

To put that into perspective, Mount Rushmore--which took 14 years to build--could be completed over 1,000 times, and that is each and every year. That underscores how staggering; we are talking about 1,000 Mount Rushmores each and every year. I would note there may be some Members of this august body who would like to see themselves on those 1,000 or more Mount Rushmores.

But rather than needless compliance, we should be putting that energy into productive endeavors. None of that compliance cost is productive. As we say in Texas, it produces neither trucks nor tortillas. It is simply wasted time dealing with the burdens of government.

To give you a sense of the volume of burdens, as of today the administration has created more than 19,000 pages of regulations, bulletins, and guidance since ObamaCare became law. If the IRS and HHS and the Department of Labor continue at their current pace, we can expect an additional 3,000 pages of rules--which is what I have here, 3,000 pages--in the next 6 months, the period covered by this continuing resolution.

This is 3,000 pages right here. I will tell you, I am very glad I don't have to sit down and read these 3,000 pages. But I will tell you also, yesterday I held a tele-townhall with thousands of Texans. A small business owner asked a question. She said, Look, in our small business, we are struggling to make ends meet. How do we ascertain what these regulations contain? I will tell you, I was very frustrated that I could not give her a good answer, because on my desk here is 3,000 pages, and yet what has already been promulgated is over 19,000 pages. So take this stack and send it six times up in the air. It would reach nearly into the gallery.

I told her, I don't have a good answer for how you, struggling to make payroll, to make sure your employees keep their jobs, possibly digest 19,000 pages of regulations, with new pages coming out without ceasing.

Why is our economy struggling? It is not hard to figure out why our economy is struggling when you think about the compliance costs and regulations that are being heaped on small businesses, when they are told, Figure out what is in the 19,000 pages of regulations, and if you get it wrong, you can be assured the hammer of the Federal Government will come down upon you.

That is why I am introducing this amendment today. This amendment to the continuing resolution is a very simple amendment. It simply provides that none of the funds within the continuing resolution shall be spent to implement ObamaCare or to engage in rulemaking under ObamaCare.

Let me be clear. In my view, ObamaCare should be repealed altogether. I think the harms from ObamaCare--and particularly the harms of the most vulnerable among us--are significant enough that we should repeal it in its entirety. I recognize that is not a view shared by every Member of this body. At a minimum, however, I would submit that every Member of this body will agree that restoring economic growth should be a critical priority. And with our economy gasping for breath--last quarter, we were at 0.1 percent growth--allowing ObamaCare to be fully implemented right now has the potential of pushing this economy into a recession. I know no Member of this body wants to see the economy go into a recession. No Member of this body wants to see the American people pay the price for damaging economic growth. If we allow ObamaCare to be funded and implemented right now, each of us who votes to do so will bear a significant amount of responsibility for the economic damage that comes.

I would submit that every Member of this body, Republican and Democrat, should stand together and say, at a minimum, let's restore growth first; at a minimum, let's wait until we get back to historic levels of growth--3.3 percent--before implementing such an incredibly antigrowth, job-killing omnibus bill.

Let me close with a simple observation of the power of growth. If we could get back to historic averages, 3 percent to 5 percent, every other problem this body wrestles with becomes much simpler to resolve. Four percent growth for a decade would create over 10 million new jobs. Four percent growth for a decade would produce over $3 trillion in additional tax revenue. I would note, that exceeds the tax increases. The revenue from the tax increases that have been proposed by President Obama exceeds the revenue from the tax increases that, my understanding is, the Budget Committee will include in its budget before this body.

I am all for new revenue to pay down our debt. I just believe the revenue should come from economic growth and not from higher taxes that hammer small businesses, kill jobs, and restrict growth.

Most importantly, 4 percent growth over a decade would lift over 3 million out of poverty and into the middle class. Growth sometimes seems to be an abstract number that only economists worry about, but sustained growth is what has led to the unprecedented prosperity of our great Nation. It is the reason why for centuries millions of people have come to America seeking a better life, because there has been no country on Earth that has allowed so many people to start with nothing and achieve anything.

A stagnant economy hurts, first and foremost, those struggling to climb the economic ladder. And, in my opinion, every one of us should come in to work every day fighting for those struggling to climb the economic ladder to make sure we remain the land of opportunity; to make sure we remain the hope and beacon to the world; to make sure that every American has a fair chance to achieve the American dream. With stagnant growth, millions are shut off from that American dream. And I know no Member of this body wants to see that happen.

Respectfully, I would urge my colleagues to restore growth first. Do not allow this bill to be implemented, to kill economic growth, to kill jobs, and to potentially push this economy into a recession. Instead, let's get growth back, let's maintain our economic strength and security, and let's make sure opportunity remains--not just for us but for the next generation and the generations after that.

I yield the floor.

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