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Floor Speech

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Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, I wish to start by acknowledging the work of my colleague, the junior the Senator from Texas, who held the floor for nearly a day speaking passionately about an issue that unites every single Republican: ObamaCare is wrong for America and needs to be repealed. The Senator from Texas has focused on the dangers of this law, explaining once again why we are all on this side of the aisle committed to overturning it. Later this week every Republican will unite to vote against any amendment to add funding for ObamaCare.

This afternoon I would like to call on my colleagues across the aisle to once again listen to their constituents and actually join us in this effort. I would like to ask Senators to take their minds back to Christmas Eve 2009. Some of us remember it very, very well. In the early hours of the morning, the majority leader rammed through a massive 2,700-page takeover of the U.S. health care system against the will of the American people, against the principles of open and accountable government, and, I would argue, against their better judgment because the people who voted for this bill didn't have to listen to all the speeches I was giving back then to realize it would never, ever do what the President said it would. But they in the end obeyed the orders of the Washington Democratic leadership anyway, and now our friends on the other side are seeing the results of their votes.

ObamaCare is just as bad as many of us said it would be, and it is about to get a lot worse. This train is picking up speed, and there is a bridge out ahead. It is sort of like one of those Wile E. Coyote cartoons, except this isn't funny because these are people's lives we are talking about. We are talking about the college graduate who is faced with a choice between exorbitant premiums and government tax penalties. We are talking about the working mom forced to scrape by with less hours and smaller paychecks. We are talking about the small businesses that are unable to grow and hire more Americans. And that is not even getting into the concerns about glitches that could expose personal information to fraud or about Americans losing the health care they like and want to keep.

Even the administration is having a terrible time spinning this law. Just look at the cherry-picked report they released today. About the best they could claim was that some premiums would be lower than projected. Let me say that again: Some premiums would be lower than projected. Note that I didn't say ``lower'' but ``lower than projected.'' Basically, this law is a complete mess.

So Washington Democrats may have been able to brush the American people off back in 2009--just brushed them off--but they have no choice but to deal with reality now. We have seen how this has worked out over the last 4 years.

It is hard to blame them for looking back at their ObamaCare vote with a lot of regret. But here is the good news. Later this week the Senate will take up the House-passed CR. If the House-passed CR passes, it will keep the government from shutting down without increasing government spending by a penny and--and--defund ObamaCare.

So for all those Democrats who shanked it back in 2006, here is your opportunity for a mulligan. Here is your chance to finally get on the same page with the American people because the American people overwhelmingly oppose this law, and you can't open a newspaper these days without being struck by some new reason you should be opposed to it too.

Remember, it is more than just our constituents who are opposed to ObamaCare. Small businesses are opposed. Even big labor bosses are souring on it. All we need is five Democrats to show enough courage to stand against their party and with the American people on this vote. That is enough to pass the bill--enough to keep the government open and to keep ObamaCare funding out of it--before this train collides with reality.

I urge my Democratic colleagues to join us, the members of my conference who are already united in our opposition to ObamaCare. Democrats, on the other side of the aisle, can help us get this job done.

I yield the floor.

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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senator from Kentucky and I be allowed to participate in a colloquy.

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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I would say to my friend from Kentucky, I have had over 50 hospital town hall meetings in our State over the last year and a half. The Senator and I have done a couple of these together. As a health care professional yourself, looking at it from a hospital and health care provider's point of view--which the Senator and I both had, either he in his profession or me by being in these hospitals a lot the last couple of years, and have learned a good bit--what does the Senator think is the most devastating impact of ObamaCare on the provider world?

Mr. PAUL. I talk to a lot of doctors. I have been in town halls with the Senator at the different hospitals. The hospitals are concerned that if everybody goes on Medicaid they will go out of business. Many hospitals' bottom line is driven by--they can take care of the poor through Medicaid, but they rely on private insurance to make a profit. Hospitals in most communities have to make a profit to stay in business. So the rural hospitals, particularly in small areas, some of them have already gone bankrupt in Kentucky. But they are very concerned about people being shifted from private insurance to public assistance.

The President said, though, that it will be free, but it has a cost. We all pay for it through higher taxes. The other way we pay for it is we have to ration care or ration what we pay for care, so we have to limit what we pay hospitals.

Hospitals are already being forced to see less. They have been for a while. But even more so now. It is the same with doctors. How do doctors respond? Doctors, some respond by saying: I am maybe only going to see a couple of Medicaid patients or no Medicaid patient. Then when everybody is on Medicaid or the vast majority is on Medicaid, they are going to be waiting in to see a doctor.

Mr. McCONNELL. Speaking of Medicaid, I remember reading that our Governor got teared up when he announced that he had decided to accept the additional Medicaid mandate, which the Supreme Court actually had said was optional. I remember having a teared-up feeling too, but for a different reason. I gather what will happen in our State is there are going to be between 3- and 400,000 new people with free health care cards rushing toward the emergency rooms. What I have heard in a number of my town hall meetings is they cannot handle the Medicaid load that they have now, not to mention all of those new people who are headed their way, coupled with the $750 billion in health care provider cuts over the next 10 years to help provide a subsidy for people who are not old.

I mean, it is coming out of Medicare. It can provide subsidies for people who are not old. What is the Senator's take on where this all heads?

Mr. PAUL. When you look at the big picture of this, when we say: Well, we want to provide health insurance for everybody, which I think is a noble cause, you look at what we have. The government already provides Medicare for everybody over 65. But Medicare is $35 to $40 trillion short.

Why? It is nobody's fault really. We are living longer and a lot of people are retiring. So we have a big baby boomer generation. But Medicare is $35 trillion short. So we are instituting a brand new entitlement. It is very big, the biggest we have had in 50 years. But we are going to pay for it by shifting money from Medicare that is already $35 trillion short. That alone should give people pause.

The other thing that I think should give people pause is we cannot get people to sign up for this free program. The President is going to spend tens of millions of dollars on TV promoting it, hiring people to come knock on your door to sign up for something that is free.

You know something is disorganized when people will not take something that is free.

Mr. McCONNELL. This bill was also sold, as we both recall, as doing something about health care costs. I was just noticing here that HHS's own actuaries revised their projections just last week to say that ObamaCare will actually increase health care costs by $621 billion out across the economy. Is there any way, I would say to my colleague, Dr. Rand Paul, how this could possibly hold down costs?

Mr. PAUL. No. In fact, I think there were problems in health care. But as a physician for 20 years, what I heard most was about the cost of health care. People came to me and said it is so expensive. Or if they are a small business owner they said: Our insurance costs too much. That was their main complaint. This does nothing to control costs. In fact, Obama does the opposite. ObamaCare is a collection of mandates. I was talking earlier. It is the difference between freedom and coercion. We will coerce insurance companies and customers to buy only certain kinds of insurance. People say: It is good. My kids will be covered when they are in college and when they get out of college. That is good. But it is not free. It is going to cost you more money. So if you are the working class or the working poor, you are struggling to buy insurance, it is going to cost you more.

We always hear he is for the middle class. The middle class are going to pay more for their insurance. They already had insurance, and they are going to pay more across the board. So really there are a host of problems and this bill does nothing to control costs.

Mr. McCONNELL. One of our constituents--I was going to mention here a letter--the Senator probably got it from the same constituent I did--to underscore how the rising cost is impacting people outside the health care provider world, regular people in business. This from a follow constituent of ours who writes:

My father began his Kentucky Fried Chicken business with the colonel himself, and with the colonel's family. We proudly served Colonel Sander's original recipe for 40 years. It saddens me, however well intentioned, that this law will undermine my ability to provide employment. It will deplete resources that could otherwise be used to grow my business.

The Senator and I both have heard from a lot of Kentucky business people indicating, as this KFC franchisee underscores, the impact of this on the private sector.

Mr. PAUL. I met with a group today. I have here today 68,000 American senior citizens who signed a petition from Conservative 50-plus Alliance, saying they want to delay it, dismantle it, defund it, do anything, just try to slow down this monstrosity.

We have also heard from folks who work for UPS, one of our biggest employers in Louisville and Kentucky. Some 15,000 spouses are losing their insurance coverage from UPS that they had chosen. It was great coverage. UPS is a great company. Great benefits. But they are forced to cut back because of ObamaCare.

We hear from individuals throughout the State. We have received thousands and thousands of letters. One couple I met recently was actually profiled on Fox News, the Anionic family, where they said: We have to buy our insurance. We are self-employed, we do consulting work, we were paying $300 a month, and we are going to $900 a month. This is exactly the opposite. One of the real things that we had that was working in our health care that should be expanded, if we were in charge of talking about this, is health savings accounts. People could save for things that were not covered by their insurance, straightening your kid's teeth, cosmetic, elective kind of surgery, your deductible, meeting a lot of things for your tax-free account.

We had made it bigger and bigger over time. ObamaCare makes it smaller. If you have got a kid with autism or spina bifida, or special needs, you need to save that money tax free so you can help your child with all of extra stuff you need to do for your child.

The President has narrowed that. Also health savings accounts helped to bid prices down. Because when you have a higher deductible, you call up the doctor and you say: How much will that be? Or you ask the pharmacist: How much does that cost? That simple question, of asking how much something costs is concern on the part of the consumer and drives prices down. But we have gotten rid of that.

Mr. McCONNELL. The other thing that is clearly happening here is that all indications are, we have a record number of part-time employees in our country now. Employers are downsizing in order to try to get below the 50-employee threshold. Of course, even as they do that, they are not necessarily unaffected by the rising costs of health insurance premiums. But we are looking around at some way to try to prevent the worst case scenario here, all of this disruption in our economy is actually the reason we have so many part-time workers; is it not?

Mr. PAUL. Yes. The thing is, there was a French philosopher by the name of Bastiat. He talked about the seen and the unseen. You may be able to--I am sure the President is going to show us the person who gets insurance. That is the ``seen.'' That will be the good effect of this. The unseen will be the person who does not get the job. But you do not know their name because they never got the job--the person that was going to be the 51st employee or the 52nd employee or the part-time worker that had 34 hours going to 29 hours. That is the unseen.

I do not question the motives of the President or the other side. I think they want to help people, but they did not think this thing through. So even their side now is scratching their head. The author of the bill is calling it a train wreck. The Teamsters said, ``We did not know we are going to have to pay all of those taxes on our health insurance. Warren Buffet, former President Clinton, all of these people are questioning. This is really going to hurt some of the people you tried to help.

That is one of my concerns. I know there has been a lot of talk about procedure around here. So we ought to have the ability to amend this to make it less bad--that is the way I like to describe it--and make this bill less bad for the American people. There has been a lot of dialogue on our side but there has not been much on theirs. Are they willing to talk about fixing ObamaCare and making it less bad for the American people.

Mr. McCONNELL. The Senator was not here yet, but is the Senator fully aware of how this bill passed in the first place? Not a single member of our party in either the House or Senate voted for it. They brought us into session the day after Thanksgiving in 2009 and we were not allowed to leave for a month. We were here 7 days a week for a month. And we managed to eke it out. They had 60 Democrats, there were 40 Republicans. They eked it out with not a vote to spare on Christmas Eve, as a result of things like the Cornhusker Kickback, a special deal for Nebraska, the Louisiana Purchase, a special deal for Louisiana, the Gator Aid, a special deal for Florida, all while the President, the Vice President, and former President Clinton were up here telling me: Believe me. They are going to love it by the fall.

Here we are 4 years later. It is more unpopular today--I would say to my friend from Kentucky--than it was on the day it was passed. Is it not reasonable to conclude that is because of what it does?

Mr. PAUL. Absolutely. It is the content. But it is because there has been no input. ObamaCare is 100 percent the President's bill, 100 percent the work of the Democrats, with no input from our side. I think people actually do--when you go home, they do want to establish dialogue. They do want us to work together a little bit. There has been no working together on ObamaCare. It is theirs. The President got it exactly wrong the other day. It is hard to inform the people this way.

He said: Republicans want 100 percent of what they want or they are going to shut down government. I think it is the opposite. He wants 100 percent of what he wants. He doesn't want any compromise. We have a bill before us. There is a discussion about ObamaCare. Why not? Nearly 80 percent of us voted and said the medical devices tax is going to be a disaster for innovation in the medical industry. It is a bad piece of this bill. We should repeal it.

Why not have a vote on that? To my understanding there will be no vote on any amendments to make ObamaCare any better.

Mr. McCONNELL. The President himself seems to be kind of conceding that some things aren't working out well. He decided to delay the employer mandate for a year. Apparently, he has been meeting with some of his union allies to figure out what he can try to do for them.

I believe the 100 percent view of the Republicans is that if we are going to have a delay for business, why not have a delay for everybody? Obviously, we would like to defund the law entirely. There is a math problem on that in the Senate. There are 54 Democrats and 46 Republicans. But couldn't we all agree on delaying this train wreck? The train wreck, by the way, was what the Democratic chairman of the Finance Committee in the Senate, one of the authors of the bill, called it.

Mr. PAUL. I think there is also something important about how we change ObamaCare. If a law has problems and we incorrectly pass the law that has the least blemishes, it should come back and we should re-debate and fix it or try to make it less bad. I think it is the best way to put it.

The thing is that it is illegal, it is unconstitutional, and it is unprecedented to do this on his own.

To my mind, win or lose this week, this is an important philosophical battle, bigger than ObamaCare. It is as big and as broad as the country is. That is whether or not the Congress writes the law and the President executes the law.

If the President gets to vote, write, and execute, that is a type of tyranny. Montesquieu talked about the separation of powers. He said when the legislative power becomes the executive power, that is a type of executive tyranny.

We have to do something that says to the President--and that is why I think this needs to be pursued all the way to the Supreme Court--rebukes the President and says you are not a king. You are the President, and the legislation comes from Congress, not from you.

Mr. McCONNELL. We have another example of this that affects our State. The President, even when he had a 40-seat majority in the House and 60 votes in the Senate, couldn't get cap and trade through the Congress.

Yet last Friday he has announced he is going to do it anyway. All indications are there won't be another coal-fired generation plant built ever.

It is a perfect example of what the Senator is talking about, a kind of executive arrogance, that if I can't get what I want through Congress, I will just do it on my own and see you in court, or whatever limited options we have left.

If he really believes he has the power to delay ObamaCare, why not delay it for everyone, not just businesses.

Mr. PAUL. I think that is what people see as unseemly. They see: Well, gosh, if there are problems, is it right for him to just give exemptions to his friends?

You see a line of people going to the White House that were big contributors of his. It is as if you can buy access to good law.

The President changed the law only for people who gave him money. Can he give out grants and loans to people who are his contributors? I think this is what sort of belies this tale when he says: I am for the middle class.

Well, I don't see the middle class. I don't see my neighbors or any of my friends getting any special deals at the White House. In fact, I see them bearing the brunt of people who do get special deals.

I don't like, if you have really good health insurance, placing a tax on you, a special tax. Many of the unions will get that. I will stand here and fight tooth and nail not to have a special tax on the unions.

Some might be surprised by that. It is not for me a union-nonunion thing. It is about is it good for America, is it good for Americans.

Some executives have good insurance, too. Should we have a special tax on something that is good? It doesn't seem like the right thing to do.

Mr. McCONNELL. Here at some point, regardless of differences of opinion that we have had on our side over procedure, what is likely to happen here at some point is we are going to have a 51-vote vote on defunding ObamaCare, something we have not been able to achieve here in the last 4 years. Four Democrats, who had second thoughts, who had an opportunity to take a look at the carnage of the last 4 years, could actually pass a bill that defunds ObamaCare.

I remember, I say to my friend and colleague, standing at this very chair, 4 years ago, looking at the other side and saying if only one of you, only one, would come with us, this bill wouldn't pass.

I also said, however, if none of you do, every single one of you is responsible for its passage. Had any Democrat on the other side, any one of them, said this is a bridge too far, I am not going to do it, it wouldn't have passed.

Consequently, every single one of them is responsible for its passage, but they have a second chance now, an opportunity for a do-over. At some point here this week they will have a chance to cast a real vote on an up-or-down basis. I have watched this for 4 years, and I don't think we ought to go forward.

It will be interesting to see if party loyalty will be so great that none of these folks will be able to bring themselves to admit that they made a mistake 4 years ago.

Mr. PAUL. I think one of the disappointing things about the debate both then and now is that we are talking about something all Americans want. They want affordable health care. They want most people to have insurance. They want everybody to have insurance if we can do it.

But we have made it a partisan battle--not we--but Congress and the deliberative process has become very partisan, when in reality there are probably things on which we could agree, even the problems with ObamaCare.

I think half of the other side half agrees that there are problems and they ought to be fixed.

Because of some kind of stubbornness that we are getting 100 percent of what we want or we are willing to risk shutting down the government, that is what we get from the other side. It is their way or the highway. They want all of ObamaCare or they want the government to shut down.

I think in reality there are a lot of good things that we could actually come together and work on because ObamaCare never addressed price. Eighty-five percent of the public had insurance and their price is going up. We do need to get together and talk about how to try to bring cheaper health care to people in our country.

Mr. McCONNELL. The tragedy of this, correct me if I am wrong, but we passed a 2,700 page bill on a totally partisan basis. We have about 20,000 pages of regulations now issued.

I used them in a speech recently. They were 7 feet tall. We had to put them on a dolly to get it out on the podium.

I would ask my friend and colleague from Kentucky, didn't I read the other day, that even after we do all of the 2,700 page bill, the 20,000 pages of regulations, there still may be 25 or 30 million people uninsured?

Mr. PAUL. Yes. I don't think it has actually fixed the problem. I think we were at 45, so I don't think it fixed half the problem.

The other interesting thing is of the people who didn't have health insurance, a third of the people without health insurance were young, healthy, and actually made more than $50,000 a year. They weren't getting health insurance because it was too expensive.

What did we do to help them? We made health care more expensive.

Mr. McCONNELL. I think this law has no chance of working. I don't believe that, even if we are unable to defund it here in the next few days, that we are necessarily stuck with it. I have been here a while, and you have been a long-time observer through your father's career and your own. I think it is pretty safe to conclude that things that can't work don't stick and don't last. We are, after all, a representative democracy. People complain, discuss, and tell us how they feel.

I don't think this law can possibly stand. It is pretty hard to predict exactly the day upon which it ends, but it is cracking.

We have Jimmy Hoffa, the President of the Teamsters, saying you are destroying the 40-hour work week, and their Cadillac health care plan. Don't you think ObamaCare can't possibly work?

Mr. PAUL. No. I think once the bill has come due at the State level, you are going to have a real uproar on your hands because there is a printing press in Washington that runs 24 hours a day printing money. In the State capitals they don't have a printing press, they are limited--at least to a certain extent--on their borrowing.

When the Medicaid bills come due in Kentucky, our State and other States, I think there will be another war on the question of ObamaCare. The question then will be do we throw out the Governor who increased our Medicaid by 50 percent and bankrupted our State in the process?

Mr. McCONNELL. I thank my colleague from Kentucky for the opportunity to exchange some views here about the impact of this on our State and our country.

I yield the floor.

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