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Public Statements

Expansion of Federal Government

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. DUNCAN of Tennessee. Mr. Speaker, one thing that President Obama mentioned in his State of the Union speech the other night, which I hope he follows up on, is his effort to stop the cost of college tuition and fees from going up at such a rapid rate.

I spoke to a class at the University of Tennessee last week--and I've done that many times--and whenever I speak to classes, it shocks the students when I tell them that in my first year at the University of Tennessee it cost $90 per quarter in our tuition. In other words, I went to school for $270. It went up to $105, and then $120, and then $135 a quarter my senior year, so it went up $405. But this was shortly after the Federal student loan program had come in.

Until that program came in, college tuition and fees went up at just the rate of inflation. It went up very slowly--in fact, sometimes less than inflation. But now, and ever since that program has come in, tuition and fees have gone up at three or four or five times the rate of inflation, so that today colleges and universities cost 300, 400, and 500 percent higher than they would have if we had just left things alone. Anything the Federal Government subsidizes, the costs just explode.

When I went to the University of Tennessee--my senior year in high school I had been a bag boy at the A&P making $1.10 an hour--I got a big raise. As a freshman at the university, I became a salesman at Sears and worked there my first 2 years, and I made $1.25 an hour.

Almost everybody who needed to could work part-time and pay all of their expenses and fees in college. Nobody had to borrow money to go to colleges or universities; nobody got out of school with a debt. Then the Federal Government decided to help. And now, what it has resulted in is almost everybody has to borrow money to pay their tuition and fees, and almost everybody gets out of school with some kind of huge debt.

We've seen the same thing happen in medical care. The Federal Government decided to help out. Before the Federal Government got involved in medical care, medical care was cheap and affordable to almost everybody. Doctors even made house calls. We took what was a very minor problem for a very few people and now we've turned it into a massive, major problem for everyone. That seems to be the history of the Federal Government.

I just came from a hearing in the Oversight and the Government Reform Committee, and I will return to that shortly. But in the GAO report on the New York Medicaid program--which is the largest in the country--it tells about a daily payment method resulting in a $5,000 daily rate for institutional residents in the State of New York--$5,000 daily payments. The New York program is paying over twice as much as the average around the country.

We sometimes hear that Medicare and Medicaid can't be cut. We certainly don't want to hurt any lower-income people, but there are some people and companies getting ridiculously, fabulously wealthy off of Medicare and Medicaid. And almost every government program ends up being some sort of a sweetheart, insider-type deal, giving contracts to companies who hire former Federal employees. It's just scandalous what is going on in this country and it's really hurting this Nation badly--and especially hurting the middle income people that the President says he's so eager to help, but who he will be hurting worse than ever if he keeps expanding the Federal Government at the rate that he wants to.


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