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Public Statements

Health Care Reform

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I wish to note, in the context of my remarks, the announcement yesterday that the deficit for the first 9 months of this year is now $1.1 trillion, headed for, at the end of this year, $1.8 trillion, perhaps the highest percentage of GDP in the history of this country outside of wartime. We are now in the process of adding amendment after amendment in the HELP Committee without any idea of the cost. As one of my colleagues who proposed a massive expansion of women's health care yesterday said in the committee: It is not the cost that is important; it is the cause. A remarkable approach to the fact that we are mortgaging our children and grandchildren's futures in a fashion which is the commission of generational theft.

Chairman Dodd received a new score on his bill last week by hiding the real cost of the bill. A few weeks ago, the preliminary cost was over $1 trillion. Now it is at $900 billion--same bill, just different numbers. On the one hand, we are told reform is urgent and, at the same time, they don't implement the bill for 4 years; conveniently, after the next Presidential election. Then they will tax employers with a job-killing employer health mandate, collect $52 billion from small employers, the engine that will take us out of our recession. Nobody disagrees about the role of small business in our economy. Then this latest proposal hides the cost of the additional hundreds of billions of dollars of Medicaid expansion.

The State of California is offering IOUs to pay their bills. They have a $26 billion deficit. We are going to increase Medicaid's burden on the States to the tune, in the case of California, of several more billion dollars. How are they going to pay for it? It is an impossible task.

I am told that is not about the cost, but it is about the cost. Just as the stimulus package was about the cost, just as the continued bailout of industries such as the automotive industry, banks, financial institutions and anybody who is ``too big to fail,'' when small business people all over America are closing their doors because they are too small to save.

For the first 9 months, the deficit is $1.1 trillion. That is $800 billion greater than the deficit recorded last year. The American people have a right to know what this health care bill will cost, what it will cost now and what it will cost our grandchildren.

The Washington Post today tells us how not to reform health care, in opposing the government insurance President Obama now says is so critical. According to today's Washington Post:

..... it would be tragic if this issue were to drag down health reform or make it impossible to secure Republican votes. Restructuring the health-care system is risky enough that Democrats would be wise not to try to accomplish it entirely on their own.

I certainly hope my friends on the other side of the aisle pay attention to that comment. It has turned into a partisan effort, and it is too bad.

From today's Wall Street Journal, ``Democrats Hoodwinked the Health Lobby. Americans's health-care CEOs are being taken for a ride by Congress and their own lobbyists.''

It is a very interesting article by Kimberly Strassel.

The industry's calculation is that by cutting deals, it can set the terms of its contributions to ``reform'' and even wangle upsides. The insurers came first, promising to squeeze $2 trillion in costs out of the system. Democrats are letting Ms. Ignagni believe that in return she will get a mandate to require all Americans to carry insurance (which her members will supply) and be spared a public option (which would decimate her industry).

It goes on to talk about Mr. Tauzin who:

..... came along pledging that drug makers would cough up $80 billion to narrow a gap in Medicare drug coverage. He's been led to think that Washington will forgo its plans to allow drug reimportation or give him a hand on generics.

The word is that the administration is now saying drug reimportation is not important, in exchange for this deal with Mr. Tauzin. How unsavory is that. Drug reimportation will save the American people $50 billion a year. It is a fact. PhRMA, the large prescription drug lobby--a very powerful one here in our Nation's capital--in return for saying they will save $80 billion, the administration in return will give up their support for what would save the American people $50 billion, when the $80 billion they are talking about is purely illusory, to say the least.

The Wall Street Journal article goes on to say:

Democrats have complemented their smiling encouragements with behind-the-scene threats. After retaking the House in 2006, the party made clear that companies that did not hire Democratic lobbyists would not get a hearing in Washington. The ruling party is now seeing the fruits of its bullying. These days a meeting of health-care lobbyists is better described as a reunion of Senate finance Chairman Max Baucus's former aides. Health-care lobbying has been turned on its head: The new cabal of Democratic lobbyists does not exist to protect the industry from Congress. It exists to present Democratic ultimatums to business.

When Senate Republicans last month hosted a meeting to discuss reform ideas, Mr. Baucus's office called in a block of these Democratic lobbyists to deliver a message. ``They said, 'Republicans are having this meeting and you need to let all of your clients know if they have someone there, that will be viewed as a hostile act,'' reported one attendee to the Baucus caucus.


All these actions--the White House meetings, the strung-out negotiations, the muzzling--have been taken with one aim: To buy silence. President Barack Obama is committed to a public option. Liberal Democrats intend to make the private sector fund their plans. They figure by the time they drop a bill that contains odius elements, it'll be too late for any industry player--big or small--to cut a Harry & Louise ad.

Industry players this week got a glimpse of how they will be treated. House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman dismissed the $80 billion drug deal, claiming it did not have House support, and moreover that the White House ``told us they are not bound to that agreement.''

The question is just how long it is going to take for America's health-care CEOs to realize they are being taken for a ride both by Congress and their own lobbyists. Americans are wary enough about ObamaCare to maybe appreciate some straight talk from corporate America. If only corporate America can find the smarts to give it.

The debate and discussion continues in the House and the Senate. They still haven't found a way to pay for the health care reforms they want to make. It is still around a trillion dollars. We hear everything from a 10-cent tax on soft drinks to the employer benefit proposal which was so strongly derided and attacked during the last campaign. So far we are talking about laying another trillion or two of debt on the American people, in addition to the $1.8 trillion deficit we have already amassed this year.

Again, I urge colleagues and the administration to sit down in true negotiations, in bipartisan fashion together, and maybe we can solve this issue. We all know the quality of health care in America is the highest in the world. But the costs of health care in America and the inflation associated with it are something we must address so that health care is affordable and available to all Americans.

I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.

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