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Public Statements

Health Care Week XII, Day 1

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. MCCONNELL. Mr. President, the American people have made their voices heard in the health care debate. Their message is clear. They want reforms that bring down the staggering cost of health care and increase access,
and they do not want insurers turning people away.

In short, Americans are not happy with the status quo. But they are just as concerned, if not more so, with the alternatives that the White House and a handful of Democrats on Capitol Hill are pushing through Congress.

Soon, the last of the five committees involved in this debate will finish its work. After that, a handful of Democratic Senators will get together in a closed conference room somewhere in the Capitol to hash out a final product. Their proceedings may be private, but based on their stated preferences we have got a good sense of the basics.

We know that the bill they send to the Senate floor will cut seniors' Medicare by half a trillion dollars; we know that it will raise taxes on virtually everyone; we know it will limit the health care choices Americans now enjoy. And we know it will be a big government bonanza: a $1 trillion pricetag and 1,000 pages of indecipherable text.

For the past 2 weeks, Americans have been focused on the Senate Finance Committee. The real focus should be on the conference room where the final bill will be decided. That is because it is in that room that the Democratic leadership from the White House and Congress will attempt to decide the fate of health care for everyone. Their deliberations will be secret. And there is only one direction these Senators plan to take this legislation, and that is to the left.

We have seen what happens in these kinds of closed deliberations before. Over the summer, members of the HELP Committee discovered after a month-long markup that a wellness measure they had agreed to unanimously in front of the cameras in July was mysteriously taken out away from the cameras sometime after a final vote was taken on the bill.

And we all remember how executives at AIG ended up with multimillion dollar bonuses after nearly driving the company off a cliff. Those bonuses were blessed in a closed-door meeting somewhere in the Capitol after a final vote on the stimulus bill had already taken place.

This bill already starts out with a flawed foundation of Medicare cuts, more taxes, more debt, and fewer health care choices. That is reason enough for Americans to oppose it. Now the finishing touches will be added on in secret before a rush to the finish.

Proponents of the administration's health care plan have been working hard over the past 2 weeks to convince the American people their concerns are being heard. We will see if that has just been window dressing. The fact is, the final bill will be worked out, out of sight, by a mere few whose decisions will affect everyone in America. Away from the cameras, they will make decisions that affect every single American and one-sixth of our entire economy.

Americans want commonsense reform. Reshaping the entire economy, limiting their choices, expanding government control over health care, cutting Medicare, and raising taxes in the middle of the worst economy in memory, and then pushing it through with as little public scrutiny as possible is not what they would call reform.

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