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Public Statements

Health Care Week XII, Day II

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, yesterday morning, our friends across the aisle came to the floor to defend the health care plan that they and their colleagues are pushing through Congress--a plan that has as its foundation a trillion dollars in spending, half a trillion dollars in cuts to Medicare, higher premiums, higher taxes on just about everyone at a time of near double-digit unemployment, and limits on the health care choices that millions of Americans now enjoy. Later in the day, we got a cost estimate. It is irrelevant. The bill it is referring to will never see the light of day.

What matters is that the final bill will cost about a trillion dollars, vastly expand the role of government in people's health care decisions, increase premiums, and limit choice.

For months, Republicans have taken every opportunity to talk about the kinds of commonsense reforms we need and that Americans actually want. Personally, I have spoken just about every day we have been on the floor since June about step-by-step reforms to lower costs, commonsense ideas that we should all agree on like malpractice reform, equalizing the tax treatment for businesses and individuals, and prevention and wellness programs--all of which would get right at the heart of our health care problems.

We have talked about these things because they address the problems we have, problems of cost and access, without limiting the choices Americans now enjoy. We have talked about these things because these are the reforms Americans want.

I have spoken about reform 43 times on the Senate floor. Yet some don't seem to be listening. And this is precisely the problem Americans have identified with some of the advocates of the Democrats' health care plans.

They are not listening to our commonsense proposals any more than they are listening to the concerns of the American people.

In fact, listening to the proponents of these plans, one gets the sense they are more concerned about their legacies than what the American people actually want. ``This is the moment'' ..... ``Be a part of history .....'' These are the kinds of things they say to each other about health care reform. Here is an idea: How about asking the American people what they want instead?

Everyone wants reform. I have said so almost every day on the floor for months. But a 1,000-page, trillion-dollar bill that cuts Medicare by half a trillion dollars, raises taxes on virtually everyone, raises premiums, and limits the health care choices Americans now enjoy is not the kind of reform Americans want. And what matters more than that?

The views of the American people are relevant in a debate about legislation that will have a profound and lasting effect on their lives. And these same Americans overwhelmingly oppose the 1,000-page, trillion-dollar plans they have seen from the administration and Congress. They have been saying so for months.

Take the issue of cost. One of the things Americans are concerned about is how much this legislation will cost. They are asking the question. They are not getting a straight answer.

We have seen a lot of numbers thrown around. As I have already noted, yesterday we got another one from the CBO. It doesn't tell the whole story. The fact is, the bill it is referring to will never see the light of day. That is because the real bill will soon be cobbled together in a secret conference room somewhere in the Capitol by a handful of Democratic Senators and White House officials.

The other numbers we have seen are intended to explain how much this bill will cost over 10 years. What most people do not realize is that the new plans would not go into effect for another 4 1/2 years. So what is being sold as a 10-year cost is really a 5 1/2 year cost. That means you can take the numbers you are getting and nearly double them.

Here is what we know about the true cost of the three bills we have seen so far: The Budget Committee has determined that the Finance Committee Bill, as introduced, will cost $1.8 trillion over 10 years, and we do not expect it to get any better from here on out. The HELP Committee bill will cost $2.2 trillion over 10 years. And the House bill will cost $2.4 trillion over 10 years. So the average cost of these bills, when fully implemented, is more than $2 trillion.

Americans are concerned about all this spending. They want straight answers. Advocates of the administration's health care proposal seem to think that the bigger the proposal, the more complicated, the more expensive, the better. That is not what the American people think. They are making it clear. It is about time we listen.

I yield the floor.

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