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Public Statements

Health Care

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, D.C.

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, the debate over health care continues to be a top concern for most Americans, but it is important to realize that this debate is not taking place in a vacuum. It is taking place in the context of a nation that is increasingly concerned about the size and the scope of government.

Over the past year, Americans have seen the government take over automakers and insurance companies. They have seen government spend hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out banks and other financial institutions. They have seen government run up unprecedented debt. And now they are seeing the government trying to take over health care.

If the White House wants an explanation for all the unrest it is witnessing across the country, all the worry and concerns Americans have about their health care plans, this is a crucial piece. Democrats in Washington may see all these government programs and interventions as separate, individual events. But to most Americans who are weathering a recession, it seems as if every time they pick up a newspaper or turn on the television, Democrats in Washington are pushing another trillion-dollar bill, calling for more spending, more taxes, and more debt. That is why people are becoming more vocal, and that is why they have been delivering a consistent message for weeks: no more government takeovers, no more spending money we do not have, no more tax increases, and no more debt. Americans are concerned about government running their lives and ruining their livelihoods, and they do not get the sense that either the administration or Democrats on Capitol Hill are listening.

Nowhere is this disconnect between the people and the politicians in Washington more apparent than in the debate over health care. Americans do not think a bigger role for government in health care would improve the system. Yet despite this, every single proposal we have seen would lead to a vast expansion of the government's role in the health care system.

It is not that the Democrats in Congress do not sense the public's unease about a new government plan for health care. I think they do. It is the primary reason some of them are backing away from proposals that include it. What some Americans do not realize, however, is that even without a government plan, the health care plans Democrats are proposing would still vastly expand the government's role in our health care. That is what I would like to discuss in a little more detail this morning.

Let me list just a few examples of how government's role in health care would expand even without a government-run plan.

Even without a government plan, the proposals we have seen would force employers to pay a tax if they cannot afford insurance for their employees. Employers have warned that this provision would kill jobs. At a time when the Nation's unemployment rate stands at a 25-year high of 9.7 percent, we should help businesses create jobs not kill them.

Even without a government plan, these proposals would require all Americans to choose only from health insurance plans with standards set by the government and would let government bureaucrats dictate what benefits are available to families. On this point, Americans have been equally clear. People want more choice and competition in the health care market so they can pick a plan that will work for their family, not one dictated by politicians in Washington. Yet even without a government plan, that is what they would get under the proposals we have seen. Anyone who saw any of the townhall meetings last month knows this idea is about as popular as chicken pox.

Even without a government plan, these health care proposals would require States to expand their Medicaid Programs, something the Senator from Tennessee, who is here on the floor, has spoken about frequently. Governors from both political parties have expressed serious concerns about the effect this particular proposal would have on their State budgets. They think these kinds of decisions should be left up to them, the States, not the Federal Government, and, frankly, so do most Americans.

Even without a government plan, these health care proposals would impose new taxes on small businesses and on individuals. Under the House bill, for example, taxes on some small businesses could rise as high as roughly 45 percent, a rate that is approximately 30 percent higher than the rate for big corporations. Under the same House bill, the average combined Federal and State top tax rate for some individuals would be about 52 percent--more than half of their paychecks.

Finally, the President has said his plan will not require any Americans to give up the health insurance they have and like. But what about the 11 million seniors who are currently enrolled in Medicare Advantage? Nearly 90 percent of them say they are satisfied with it. This program has given seniors more options and more choices when it comes to their health care. Yet under the administration's plan the government would make massive cuts to Medicare Advantage, forcing some seniors off this plan that so many of them have and like. When it comes to Medicare Advantage, Democratic rhetoric just does not square with reality.

Let me sum it up. While getting rid of the government plan would be a good start, the Democratic bills we have seen would still grant the government far too much control over the health care system.

Over the past few months, Americans have been saying they have had enough of spending, enough of debt, and enough of government expansion. How are the Democrats in Washington responding? By trying to rush through another trillion-dollar bill Americans do not even want and cannot afford.

The American people do want health care reform--not with more government but with less. They do not want a new government-run system; they want us to repair the system we have.

On all of these points, the American people are sending a clear and persistent message. It is time we in Congress started to listen.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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