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Mr. BARRASSO. Madam President, I come to the floor today to speak in support of the Cruz amendment and I do that as a doctor, as someone who has practiced medicine for 25 years taking care of families all around the State of Wyoming.
When we entered into the discussion about health care, and then ultimately the discussion of what became the Obama health care law, I would come to the floor and say, yes, we need to do health care reform. Patients know what they want. They want the care they need, from a doctor they choose, at lower cost. Because cost was the driver of all of this.
Then we got into the debate and into the discussions and what we ended up with was a health care law over 2,000 pages long. I said then: Does that make a lot of sense? Let's go back to what one of our Founding Fathers said. James Madison, the father of the Constitution, said: Congress shall pass no laws so voluminous they cannot be read nor so incoherent they cannot be understood. Regrettably, that is exactly what we got with this health care law--a law so voluminous it cannot be read and so incoherent it cannot be understood.
And when you say: Well, how do we know it is so long that it could not be read, how voluminous, well, Nancy Pelosi said it herself. She said: First you have to pass it before you get to find out what is in it. Well, the American people now know what is in the health care law. They know it, and they don't like it.
I have had townhall meetings all around the State of Wyoming. When you go to a community and talk about the health care law and ask the simple question, Do you believe that under the President's health care law you will be paying more for your health care, all the hands go up. And then you ask the question, Do you believe that under the President's health care law the quality of your care and the availability of your care will actually go down, and again all the hands go up. That is why as of today this health care law continues to be very unpopular. Nationwide, more people think the health care law is doing harm than believe it is doing well.
Let's take a look at what the President promised during the discussion and why some people supported it.
First of all, the President said that under the health care law, if you like the plan you have, if you like the care you have, you can keep it.
We now know from many studies and reports that is not the case. It seemed in having just read the law as it was being discussed that you weren't going to be able to keep it, but it wasn't until now that people realize more and more that they are not able to keep what they had if they liked it.
The other thing the President promised is that under his health care law, insurance premiums for a family would drop by $2,500, he said, by the end of his first term in office. The first term has come and gone, and what families around the country are seeing is that health care premiums didn't go down, they actually went up--up quite a bit, up by over $3,000 per family.
Why is it that the law is so unpopular? There are many reasons, but part of it is this so-called individual mandate--the mandate that the government can come into your home and tell you that you have to buy a government-approved product. Many people around the country believe it is unconstitutional. It actually went to the Supreme Court, and the Court ruled. The Court ruled that it was not unconstitutional. But it is still unworkable, it is still very unpopular, and it is absolutely unaffordable for us as a nation.
I talk to physicians and I talk to the nurses who take care of patients. This health care law is bad for patients, it is bad for providers--the nurses and doctors who take care of those patients--and it is terrible for the American taxpayers.
The most interesting thing to me in the last week has been the report called the ``Beige Book,'' which the Federal Reserve comes out with every month. They travel around the country and ask their Federal Reserve people what is happening in this community, that community, in this part of the country, in that region of the country. And what is happening to the economy? In this past month's report, it said that specifically as a result of the health care law, businesses aren't hiring. The Federal Reserve has called this a drag on the economy--the health care law.
How can that be? Well, there are a couple of things. One is the huge uncertainty--businesses not knowing what the impacts of the health care law specifically in terms of dollars and cents are going to be. But there are a couple of components of the health care law that are really hurting in terms of businesses hiring people. One is that things kick in for businesses once a business has 50 employees. So if a business has 49 full-time employees and they are trying to expand and they have more business and they want to hire more people, they have to decide, what is the cost of that additional 50th employee?
Well, the costs are dramatic because it then kicks that business into the huge expenses of supplying government-approved health care--not necessarily health care or insurance at a level that those employees might need or want or that business can afford, no; a government level of approved health care that may be much more than that individual needs or wants or can afford because the government is saying: We know what is best, the government knows what is best for you, the family in this community or that community and people working for that business. So that is part of it. So those folks aren't hiring.
Remember, I said full-time employees. They define full time as 30 hours or more a week. So we have the businesses known as the 29ers, where they are, for purposes of not having additional full-time employees, hiring people for 29 hours a week. There have been reports in the press of different businesses where people are working two different jobs at two different businesses because they can only get part-time work, and the reason they can only get part-time work is because when they are part-time workers, the businesses aren't mandated to pay for very expensive health care which makes it much more difficult to be successful as a business and to keep hiring more people.
There was a report of a Five Guys hamburger chain in one community. They said: We are not going to expand, we are not going to build another, we are not hiring any more full-time people, and we are going to cut the hours of the people we have. We are putting in more part-time people.
This is one of the unintended consequences of the health care law--hurting the economy directly through impacting jobs.
The President says he wants to improve the economy, get people back to work, get America on the road to recovery. Yet the health care law is--according to the Federal Reserve in this month's ``Beige Book''--hurting the economy, dragging down the economy.
So I come to the floor today to support the amendment by Senator Cruz because the American people know what they were looking for in health care reform, which was, of course, the care they need from a doctor they choose at lower cost, and that was not at all provided under the President's health care law.
Madam President, I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a quorum.
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