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Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008 --Continued--

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. I appreciate the applause.

Mr. Chairman, I think it is important that we do everything we can to save money in light of the fact that we are creating a massive new entitlement program later this week with this bill that is coming to the floor. I think it is important that we show leadership at every facet of the Federal government. That is why this amendment, which now I believe saves $100,000 from the USDA Administrative Account Budget, is worth supporting, simply because of the fact that the new SCHIP bill opens a whole new open-ended entitlement.

In the past, SCHIP has always been a program that was capped, that had an authorization. Now we have a program that has no income limits, that requires people to actually self-certify. If they say they are eligible, they are eligible. Anybody can get it. Warren Buffett's child could get SCHIP.

More important to the fact is this, Mr. Chairman. The reason that it is important to save $100,000 from the USDA budget is it is going to cost a lot of money when this SCHIP bill passes and it pushes people out of private health insurance onto government health insurance. That is precisely what this will do.

Eighty-nine percent of the children in families with incomes between 300 percent and 400 percent of poverty and 95 percent of families above 400 percent of poverty have private health insurance. What this bill will do is push those children out of the private health insurance that their parents and their employers are paying for and make taxpayers pay for that health insurance. This is an enormous, enormous expansion of our government program, which takes choice away from patients on health insurance and makes them take this government one-size-fits-all, bureaucratic-driven health care. And that is why we need to support removing $100,000 from the administrative budget from the USDA, because we have a long ways to go to save the money to pay for this bill.

This bill, as it left the Ways and Means Committee, was $76 billion over the budget in that it violated the majority's PAYGO by $76 billion. The bill that was brought to the Energy and Commerce Committee that wasn't reported out was $91 billion PAYGO noncompliant.

Why is this, Mr. Chairman? Well, another reason why I think we need to save money by cutting $100,000 from the USDA's administrative budget is that they cut Medicare. Not just a little bit, but deeply. They raid the Medicare trust fund, and they cut and eviscerate the Medicare Advantage program.

Mr. Chairman, I bet every one of us has done a town hall meeting whereby we have heard constituents when we are talking about Medicare say: You know what? You people in Congress ought to give us the same health insurance that you have.

Mr. Chairman, that is exactly what Medicare Advantage is. Just like we as Members of Congress have, just like we in the Federal employment health benefit, we have the ability to choose among providers who are competing against each other for our benefit. We get to choose among providers. We have choice. That is exactly what we are giving to Medicare beneficiaries with the Medicare Advantage program.

These plans compete against each other for the beneficiary's business, and each Medicare beneficiary gets to choose traditional Medicare or Medicare Advantage plan, and that active choice has driven down prices and has driven up quality and customer satisfaction.

The bill coming to the floor this week will cut 3 million people off the Medicare Advantage program. It will say to all those people who chose to have this plan that gives them comprehensive Medicare coverage: No, you have to have the one-size-fits-all government monopoly plan. You can't have this choice that looks like what Members of Congress have.

That is why we need to cut $100,000 from the USDA budget, because all these deep Medicare cuts to pay for a massive expansion of a new entitlement program at a time when all these other programs are going bankrupt is a step in the wrong direction. That is why I urge adoption the gentleman's second-degree amendment, and I thank him for yielding me time.


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