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Public Statements

Health Care Week IX, Day I

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. MCCONNELL. Mr. President, over the past 2 months, I have come to the floor time and again to talk about one of the most important issues we face as a Nation: and that is the need for commonsense health care reforms which address the serious problems that all Americans see in the system as it is. I have done this in the context of a larger debate about a proposed reform that, in my view, could actually make our current problems worse. And I have had solid support for that view from a number of well-respected sources.

First and foremost is the independent Congressional Budget Office, which has refuted several estimates by the administration about the effect its health care proposals would have on the economy in general and health care costs in particular.

The Director of the CBO has said the Democrat proposals we have seen would not reverse the upward trend of health care costs and would significantly increase the government's share of those costs. The CBO says these proposals would add hundreds of billions of dollars to the national debt. It says that one section of one of the proposals would cause 10 million people to lose their current health plans. And it says a so-called Independent Medicare Advisory Council designed to cut costs probably wouldn't.

These findings have helped clarify the debate over health care--and they have added to a growing perception that, though the administration is trying very hard, economic estimates are not the administration's strong suit.

First there was the stimulus. In trying to account for rising unemployment after a stimulus bill that was meant to arrest it, the administration said it misread the economy. It also said the stimulus would ``create or save'' between 3 and 4 million jobs, though now it says it can't measure how many jobs are created or saved. Meanwhile we have lost 2 million of them since the stimulus was passed.

Last week we saw the administration's tendency to miss the mark on economic estimates again with the so-called cash for clunkers program.

We were told this program would last for several months. As it turned out, it ran out of money in a week, prompting the House to rush a $2 billion dollar extension before anybody even had time to figure out what happened with the first billion.

There is a pattern here, a pattern that amounts to an argument--and a very strong argument at that: when the administration comes bearing estimates, it is not a bad idea to look for a second opinion. All the more so if they say they are in a hurry.

Americans are telling us that health care is too important to rush. They are saying it is too important to base our decisions on this issue solely on the estimates that we are getting from the same people who brought us the stimulus and cash for clunkers.

The American people want to know what they are getting into when it comes to changing health care in this country. And while I have no doubt the administration is trying, Americans need some assurance that the estimates they are getting are accurate. And if recent experience is any guide, they have reason to be as skeptical as the car dealer who said this to a reporter last week:

If they can't administer a program like this, I'd be a little concerned about my health insurance.

I suggest the absence of a quorum.

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