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Public Statements

Executive Session

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. LEE. Madam President, 2 weeks ago, while most Americans were busy getting ready for the Fourth of July holiday, the Obama administration made a stunning announcement about the President's signature legislative accomplishment, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The President admitted to the American people that because ObamaCare was so poorly crafted, he was delaying the enforcement of the employer mandate and would not assess fines and penalties to big companies that refused to provide insurance to their employees. The President explained that businesses could not handle ``the complexity of the requirements,'' and government bureaucrats would spend the next year simplifying the reporting rules so companies could comply.

I expected that in the next paragraph he would acknowledge that American families also deserve relief because, as polls consistently reflect, they have very big problems with the requirements as well. They have concerns about the government-run health care scheme known as the exchanges.

Henry Chao, the chief technical officer in charge of implementing the ObamaCare exchanges, has said:

I'm pretty nervous. ..... Let's just make sure it's not a third-world experience.

American families also have very grave concerns about how much ObamaCare is going to add to our national debt. The Congressional Budget Office now estimates that the cost to taxpayers over the next 10 years will be $1.8 trillion. Young Americans are particularly concerned about ObamaCare because it is becoming clear that they will see the highest increases in health care premiums.

One study published in the magazine of the American Academy of Actuaries shows that middle- and low-income single adults between 21 and 29 years of age will see their premiums rise by 46 percent even after they take the ObamaCare subsidy.

A joint report by Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce, Senate Finance, and Senate HELP Committees that looked at over 30 different studies concluded that:

Recent college graduates with entry-level jobs who are struggling to pay off student loan debt could see their premiums increase on average between 145 and 189 percent. Some studies estimate young adults could experience premium increases as high as 203 percent.

In my State, the State of Utah, premiums for young people will jump anywhere from 56 to 90 percent. As I read this statement from the Treasury Department, I was shocked to find no mention of these people. Parents, families, students, employees, taxpayers, hard-working Americans in general were totally left out, along with their concerns about the complexity of the requirements imposed by ObamaCare.

A senior adviser to the President took to the White House blog to spin the administration's announcement before long. She said:

In our ongoing discussions with businesses, we have heard that you need time to get this right.

But why aren't American families part of these same ongoing discussions? Isn't the White House obligated to get this right for them too, before assessing fines and penalties and forcing them into a government-run third-world experience?

We knew ObamaCare would be unaffordable, but now we know it is also going to be unfair. It is fundamentally unfair for the President to exempt businesses from the onerous burdens of his law while forcing American families and individuals into ObamaCare's unsound and unstable system. It is unfair to protect the bottom lines of big business while making hard-working Americans pay the price through higher premiums, stiff penalties, cutbacks in worker hours, and job losses.

It is unfair to give businesses more time to figure out complex regulations but force everyone else to figure out equally complex mandates and requirements applicable to individuals. This administration has chosen to put its own political preferences and the interests of various government cronies ahead of those of the American people.

Republicans in Congress must now stand up for the individuals and families who do not have the money, who do not have the lobbyists, who do not have the connections to get this administration's attention on this important issue. We should do so using one of the few constitutional powers that Congress still carefully guards: its power of the purse.

As long as President Obama selectively enforces ObamaCare, no annual appropriations bill and no continuing resolution should fund further implementation of this law. In other words, if the President will not follow it, the American people should not fund it.

Last week's admission by the administration means that after more than 3 years of preparation and trial and error, the best case scenario for ObamaCare will be rampant dysfunction, waste, and injustice to taxpayers and working families. Even the President himself is now admitting that ObamaCare will not work. It is unaffordable and unfair.

If he will not follow it, we should not fund it. The only reasonable choice now is to protect the country from ObamaCare's looming disaster, start over, and finally begin

work on real health care reform that works for everyone.

I would like to shift topics and speak briefly in opposition to the confirmation of Fred Hochberg to continue as Chairman and President of the Export-Import Bank. By confirming Mr. Hochberg, we would perpetuate the existence of an organization whose sole purpose is to dispense corporate welfare and political privileges to well-connected special interests.

The Export-Import Bank, or Ex-Im as it is commonly known, is an example of everything that is wrong with Washington today. It is big government serving the interests of big corporations at the expense of individuals, families, and small businesses throughout America.

I am, of course, not alone in this view. I have good company. In 2008, while campaigning for the office of President of the United States, then-Senator Barack Obama referred to Ex-Im as ``little more than a fund for corporate welfare.'' So it is. After all, in fiscal year 2012, $12.2 billion of Ex-Im's $14.7 billion in loan guarantees went to a single company--one company. Our free enterprise system may not be perfect, but it is fair. Crony capitalism which is promoted by the Export-Import Bank is neither.

Abraham Lincoln once said that the leading object of government was to ``lift artificial weights from all shoulders, to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all, to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life.''

Crony capitalism is the opposite of this noble vision. It lays on artificial waste, obstructs paths of laudable pursuit, and makes the race of life fettered and unfair. We may have honest disagreements about when and whether and to what extent and under what circumstances it is a good idea for the government to redistribute wealth from the rich and give it to the poor, but can't we all agree it is always a bad idea to redistribute wealth from the poor and the middle class and give it to large corporations?

The saddest part is it is not even clear the bank actually helps U.S. firms to outperform their foreign competitors. Ex-Im's convoluted financing has been accused of pricing at least one U.S. airline out of being able to compete with foreign firms, and at least one court has agreed.

Cronyism is a cancer. It undermines public trust in our economy and in our political system. Ordinary Americans who have the gnawing sense that the game seems rigged against them unfortunately have good reason to feel that way. It is not the free market that serves the middle men at the expense of the middle class. It is the crony cartels of big government, big business, and big special interests conspiring against the American dream, helping each other to American taxpayers' money. The Ex-Im Bank is part of this graft.

I urge all of my colleagues to join me in opposing this nominee and the crony capitalist organization that he leads.


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